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CBowen

No grave for British soldier that died as POW?

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CBowen

 

My wife’s Great Grandfather, Frank Haynes, served with the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters in 1917 -18 and was posted missing on 21-23rd March 1918.

The family had always thought that he was killed during the German breakthrough of those dates and his name appears on the Arras memorial. However, having recently got hold of his service record it seems that he was captured and actually died of wounds in a prisoner of war camp hospital at Munster on 6.6.18.

He is not listed anywhere by the CWGC other than as being on the Arras memorial. I checked and it seems that all Commonwealth graves were re-located to the four main cemeteries after the war (in Munster’s case probably Cologne, or Hamburg), but there is no grave at either place for him.

Is his body likely to be in an unmarked grave at Munster? Was he actually captured, or is this an error on his service record and his body was actually lost on the battlefield?

Would anyone be able to shed any light on any records, or sources that may help identify his last resting place please?

 

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voltaire60

 

    Well, let's set the ball rolling  with this enigma. Here is the  ICRC Prisoner of War card for him. It does not mention that he had died as a POW. Normally, a card would have details of what lists  from the German Government to the ICRC  he would be named on. As you can see, there are 2 references to "negatif"- which means that  on 2 specific enquiries  to the German Government, it reported that nothing was known.  If he had died in German captivity, this would almost certainly have been notified.

     This may need some more work on his service record to read what it says in greater detail

 

file front side

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charlie962

I post the service file note for Frank Oliver Haynes in case anyone can make sense of the references. I think it says 6/4/18 for date of death ?

 

              22335267_HaynesFOextractsvcfile.JPG.ad1574054686d4d80d2c4fd26484e3ff.JPG

 

That was from Ancestry. Perhaps FMP's version is clearer ?

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

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voltaire60

Hi Charlie- thought you would be on it-  To me, looks like the answer might possibly be on a German list of 3. July 1918    List 451????   

   I agree that at the moment it looks as though he died of a gunshot would to the thigh    - and that reference is dated  6th April 1918   It possibly reads (last line)  that notification of death is on List 451 of 3/7/18-and that the date of death was 5th May (which is what the date on the line above may be as well)

 

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DavidOwen

Gunshot or Shrapnel wound?

Edited by DavidOwen
Duplicated for some reason

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voltaire60

Either!     Last time I had an "SW" on a record and thought it was shrapnel, other evidence turned up to show it was gunshot wound.  So, yes, open to debate.

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charlie962

A couple of thoughts.

 

1)  I note that the CWGC Panel List says this:

 

     These are lists of individuals commemorated on memorials or screen walls and reflect the details and layout inscribed on the panels. Individuals are commemorated in this way when their loss has been officially declared by their relevant service but there is no known burial for the individual, or in circumstances where graves cannot be individually marked, or where the grave site has become inaccessible and unmaintainable.  (my italics)

 

Could he be in the latter group ?Have you tried contacting CWGC ?

 

2)  Could the War Office source quoted in his service file come from a mention in another prisoner's letter ( which were always monitored) that was never fully verified and thus not good enough for formal recording purposes ?

 

But as you say, what happened to the body ?

 

Charlie

 

 

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charlie2

As regards concentration, if his body was found it would depend on which Munster he died at. There is a Munster in Lower Saxony and there is also one in Alsace, which was at the time part of Germany. It could also be a mis-spelling of Münster. 

 

Charlie2

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CBowen

Hi Both,

 

Wow, thank you for getting back to me. That is a lot of information in one go.

 

Thank you for interpreting the Service Record more than we could. It does look as though the report of his death is on list 451 as you mention and I had assumed a shrapnel wound, but sounds like it could equally be a gunshot wound (I was going to post a question on the battlefield subject line about what may have happened to him on 21st-23rd March when his battalion were right in the path of the German offensive).

 

I did contact CWGC recently and they replied with the following "Casualties that died at the Munster Hospital (POW) were in general buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery and we have graves for  twenty four unidentified soldiers buried there. There is a possibility that Private F O Haynes is one of them, but there is no way of proving that." I took that to be that the 24 unidentified soldiers were at Cologne rather than all 24 had come from Munster. I know there was a lot of chaos at the end of the war, but it still seems odd that he was clearly identified by the Germans and presumably buried, but then vanished.

 

Craig

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CBowen

Thanks Charlie,

 

That is a good point about which Munster, I just assumed that it was the one with the 4 POW camps, but I suppose he may not have been moved that far if he was badly wounded. If there any German records then they may be able to help, but I wouldn't have a clue how to access them.

 

Craig

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johnboy

If you hve Ancestry oldiers effects might help

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charlie2

Soldiers Effects records death presumed between 21 & 23 March, no mention of him being a PoW.

Charlie

 

 

FC7A0284-9963-443A-862B-2E1A49F475F9.jpeg

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johnboy

Thanks Charlie, 

24,11,11 is a lot of pay owed, could this be a period of being POW?

the War Gratuity is also a lot for a private

Edited by johnboy

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clk

Hi,

 

A couple of my long shot thoughts:

 

I wonder if buried in their records the National Archives, they might have the War Office record/report noted in his service record. Presumably, it mentioned several men, and might have been retained centrally, rather than against a specific service record. Might be worth an ask?

 

I also wondered if you did a CWGC search using just the search term "Country (commemorated in)" =  Germany; and setting a date range of say +/- month from his service file DoD (06.04.1918?), you could then look up the men in the ICRC records and using the PA references find their "Totenliste" records (also going back/forward a couple of pages) to see if he appears - perhaps under a mis-spelling of his surname.

 

58 minutes ago, johnboy said:

24,11,11 is a lot o pay owed, could this be a period of being POW?

 

I don't know for sure, but my thought was that despite the service file apparent DoD, his outstanding wages and War Gratuity would have been paid out to his NoK based on the earlier presumed DoD shown in his Soldiers' Effects record, and his length of service. My guess would be that he hadn't drawn on his pay due for a considerable time, if at all. Hopefully Craig will pick up, and make a more informed comment than mine.

 

Regards

Chris

 

Edited by clk

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johnboy

The high amount of untouched pay made mr think of why he had not used much and wondered if this was because he was unable as a POW

Will be interesting what light Craig can shed on the gratuity. 

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voltaire60

   Some small observations.  

1) If his service file has an anomaly, then it would have been chased at the time. POW letters often  have info. on the deaths of others and  who is a fellow POW-This was not only allowed by the Germans but encouraged-it was a far quicker way to get details of British dead back to the War Office than by the agency of ICRC. BUT, such references would usually be kept in the service file- usually small bits of paper, giving the source and date of the information. I cannot see any in his service file, which suggests there are none.

 

2)  I have looked through the rest of the Haynes/Haines on ICRC but cannot see any likely candidates with whom to be confused.  I note that the POW card is from a family member, with the "negatif" responses-the second of which is October 1918-so beyond any reasonable doubt about times for holding POWs. I think he is on a death list-probably from July (which would fit the Michael casualties generally)  The 5 July date tallies with a German government list coming in.  We may have to look at some of the other Sherwood Forester casualties of that date for ICRC cards and see if it leads to any PA listing.

 

3)  Cologne Southern. I do not think camp conditions and registration by the civil authorities were that chaotic. Conditions were very poor but not administratively chaotic. Did CWGC specify soldiers or just personel that were unidentified?. My view is that a body would be unidentified if it came into the ambit of the German government, not that it was anonymised post mortem. There is no reason to suspect that German civil cemetery registers were not kept in good order at all times.  The most obvious reason for asking if they were specifically referred to as "soldiers" is that anonymous bodies would most usually be RN/MM washed up on the German coast  ( I have a local casualty who may have been affected- CWGC may be able to tell you where the unidentified 24 were originally. Hopefully, one at least will be Munster and prove the rest of this bit wrong!)

 

(There is a small chance that information in his file came from another source- one possibility is via the Foreign Office, whose printed lists on the shelves at Kew contain stuff not listed in Discovery. I will check for you on my next visit.)

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Wexflyer

I would like to throw in the following scenario for consideration - more of a query really.

 

I have long wondered what way the records treated a soldier who was found seriously injured on the battlefield (by the Germans, say). Taken directly into the medical evacuation system, and to hospital. Dies of his wounds, never having left the medical system.  In such a case, where the soldier never made it into the POW system as such, would he have been returned as a POW, or simply as an entry on a list of British dead submitted by the Germans? I presume such lists covered more than POW deaths - such as dead recovered on the battlefield, etc.

Edited by Wexflyer

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AOK4
1 hour ago, Wexflyer said:

I would like to throw in the following scenario for consideration - more of a query really.

 

I have long wondered what was the way the records treated a soldier who was found seriously injured on the battlefield (by the Germans, say). Taken directly into the medical evacuation system, and to hospital. Dies of his wounds, never having left the medical system.  In such a case, where the soldier never made it into the POW system as such, would he have been returned as a POW, or simply as an entry on a list of British dead submitted by the Germans. I presume such lists covered more than POW deaths - such as dead recovered on the battlefield, etc.

 

The information may very well have passed via a POW camp in Germany as well (as has been mentioned before on GWF), which may lead to misinterprations.

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voltaire60

    Thought I would look at any other Sherwood Foresters , 2nd Bn, from March (or so) 1918-who died as POWs in Germany and are buried there. Only a few- but an anomaly. There are not many of them-  none buried in Germany for the period 21-23 March 1918, which might stand comparison with Haynes. BUT there are 2 which suggest Sherwood Foresters casualties were taken to a war hospital at Munster. So it tilts the odds about Haynes more to his service file being correct.

    A letter to CWGC would seem the best way forward.

   

 

 

 

 

image.png.d897cd9c6a682facf1372d49f7dc2d22.png

 

 

 

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familyhistoryman

Hi

I wonder if you have checked the local newspapers to see if his death was reported? It also might be worth checking the newspapers for the anniversary of his death. I have sometime found that the Memorium column gave the place of his death

Tony

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AOK4
2 hours ago, Chris_Baker said:

This has some similarities to a case I recently researched: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/an-unknown-soldier-known-once-more/

 

Great research and a pity CWGC doesn't want to accept the identity...

Just one remark: Givet is in France, not in Belgium.

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Chris_Baker
15 minutes ago, AOK4 said:

 

Great research and a pity CWGC doesn't want to accept the identity...

Just one remark: Givet is in France, not in Belgium.

 

Well spotted. Fixed!

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CBowen

Thank you for all the responses. I'm afraid I haven't had much time to check the site over the last day, or so.

 

Some very interesting ideas which it will take me a while to digest and sort out into courses of action.

 

With regard to the pay and gratuity Frank first joined up in August 1914 as an Army Service Corps Transport Special. I cannot interpret the full phrase on the service record, but he received a special bounty as a collier who owned his own transport business moving coal. He obviously had a tough time and was Court martialed for drunkenness and spent time in military prison on a couple of occasions. He was finally transferred to the infantry in 1917 "for the good of the service", but retained his ASC rates of pay. Might any of this explain the amount of pay he had left over?

 

Chris, your research into William Arthur is great and very interesting. Do you think that the CWGC would have records of any unknown burials from Munster POW cemetery that were then moved to Cologne, or Hamburg? 

 

I am away over the next couple of days without access to the internet, but I'll try and summarise what you have all suggested into some new avenues to pursue for me and post it when I'm back.

 

Craig

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voltaire60
35 minutes ago, CBowen said:

Chris, your research into William Arthur is great and very interesting. Do you think that the CWGC would have records of any unknown burials from Munster POW cemetery that were then moved to Cologne, or Hamburg? 

 

   I will jump in on this- My understanding is that the concentration records for the big war cemeteries like Cologne have not survived (I think it is a polite way of saying they destroyed by RAF bombing in WW2).   But CWGC in Maidenhead may have some other paperwork

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