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Could a soldier be considered KIA even if the remains were not found? How long were they considered as missing? or possibly declared a POW?

John

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Guest stevebec

In the AIF as soon a possible after the action involving the unit a board of unit officers sat to find out what happened to the men of their unit.

There a soldier who is listed as missing would would be discussed by the officers and evidence drawn from all sorces to find out what happened to him.

Some of these where well detailed while others were not.

At the end the soldier would be declared KIA NKG (no known grave).

S.B

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Two brothers from Fremantle who I've been researching were both posted as missing at the landing of Gallipoli on April 25th 1915.

For the next year their mother was writing to authorities to find out what had happened as she was getting conflicting reports that they were still with the battalion, in hospital, prisoner or they were killed.

It was not until mid 1916 that a board of inquiry sat to find out what had happened to these two. After this happened it was ruled out that they were in hospital, as a prisoner of war or that they were with the battalion after April 25th 1915.

They were still listed as Missing believed killed.

Unfortunately at the time of this inquiry there were not many men left who knew these two or had been with the original battalion at the time of the landing.

As it turns out, one of the brothers was killed on or near Baby 700 and currently has his grave there, and the other brother was never found, though it seems likely he was severely wounded early on and taken to a hospital ship were he died and was buried at sea. Unfortunately it seems that no proper record of this took place, but with the chaos aboard some of these hospital/transport ships after the landing at Anzac & Cape Helles this shouldn't be a surprise.

Regards

Andrew

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Andrew Hesketh

I'll be fascinated by the answers to this. Local research indicates to me that a man was declared dead after being missing for a year, but I don't know if this was a standard procedure.

I don't want to divert this question too much, but I've got serious doubts over the whole issue of cause of death, especially as recorded in SDGW. I won't re-open it here, but I began a debate on the old forum over a year ago which, in essence was about how SDGW records over 50 Coldstream Guards dropping dead on the same day, all with no known graves. A little delving revealed they had been in an attack and thus, almost certainly KIA. So, why record them as 'Died'? The most convincing response put forward (can't remember who now - sorry) suggested that 'Died' might be used when it was unclear whether death was KIA or DOW. However, if this is correct it renders the whole sphere of classification of death somewhat arbitrary and unreliable.

Off the soap box,

breathing calmly,

Andrew B)

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My limited knowledge suggests that soldiers usually were classified DoW if they reached a CCS alive, whereas if they died further forward they were KiA. As for date KiA, again limited experience suggests a 24 hour period ending 9AM was qualification for an entry on the day that the 9AM fell in.

We should not be surprised if all was not as shipshape as we would like ...... look at Heathrow the other day, and no-one was shooting at them [could have been excused if they had, I bet Clint Eastwood would have waved his Magnum around .....]

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Patrick ODwyer

DoW could be pretty soon after being injured. KIA was if you died straightaway. You didn't have to reach a CCS as far as I can tell to be declared DoW.

As far as when you were declared dead, some men of the RHG who were believed KIA, but were missing, in May 1915 were formally recorded as 'presumed dead May 1915' almost exactly a year later.

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Folks, this is a very interesting subject, so could someone come forward with chapter and verse please. As the army took the trouble to distinguish between KiA and DoW and indeeed other categories, the army, in its way, must have had definitions.

So far, with all respect, all contributors have stated what they believe, but could not prove [certainly not me].

Somewhere out there is a definition ......

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Guest Testerchild

Hi,

If it's any help, my research in to my maternal grandfather's unit, 20 Squadron RFC, has revealed a number of cases where aircraft that failed to return were actually seen to go down in flames or to a crash over enemy territory in such circumstances that the squadron immediately recorded them as killed in action.

My grandfather's case was not so clear-cut. His aircraft was last seen in combat between Menin and Wervicq on 28.09.1917, and failed to return. The 20 Squadron Record Book for that day clearly distinguishes between that loss, and another aircraft lost at the same time, but seen to go down in flames. The Record Book states: "Lt's Tomlin and Noble are dead; and Captain Campbell and Driver Tester are missing."

As to the time taken to confirm my grandfather's death. I have most of the original correspondence on this, from the Padre's letter to my grandmother on 29.09.1917, through various official replies more or less saying there is no news yet, up to and including a letter dated 4th March 1918 stating that his death has been presumed to have occurred on 28th September 1917. The names of Captain Campbell and my grandfather had by this time appeared in a german list of dead airmen given to the International Red Cross.

So the time lapse could be six months, or in other cases longer or shorter. I don't know how long it would left 'in the air', so to speak, if there was simply no news at all, ever.

Bob

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In the days when I researched Royal Sussex casualties I also found that missing men were officially listed as dead between nine and twelve months later - a full year later not being uncommon.

As for the difference between KIA and DOW, I know of a number of battlefield cemeteries where men are listed as DOW... you didn't have to reach a CCS to die of wounds, I suppose you could die of them in a trench being tended by SBs or die at the RAP - if it was reported as such, then you would be listed as DOW.

I also suspect there is no 'official' ruling on this, as the army - in my experience - was rarely that clear cut, except on certain issues.

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Guest stevebec

In my research there appear to be no hard and fast rules in which to use.

I ve soldier shown DoW on the Battle field without reaching any medical help while KIA for someone who did.

Are we getting hung up on these terms as researchers when there is no logical answers to the questions?

I have inquiries on soldiers start within the month of going missing/injuried while others took longer, these in many case are the ones that are unconfirmed so are left open till some other info comes in.

This happen for an officer in the Camel Corps. Listed after the Battle of Gaza as MIA and PoW by the Turks. All inquiries failed to find him and the Red Cross/Cresent had no luck. For three years he was listed as MIA but the unit had him down as beleived KIA.

It was found post war in interviewing the soldiers captured with the officer that he was in fact KIA on the day and not taken prisoner or if so badly wounded he didn't live. The family had lived with this and had written many letters to anyone involved which are still on file.

S.B

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Was it normal procedure to record a soldiers death on his medal index card, or was there no hard & fast rule to this one. The reason Im asking the man I'm researching was K.I.A. but there is no mention of it on the M.I.C.

Kilty. ;)

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Patrick ODwyer

From the MICs I have seen they may or may not record a man's death or how he died. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to it but perhaps someone else can say more.

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Forgive me if I do not get the names of the forms correct, but it does seem to have taken a year or more to declare someone who was missing KIA, as Paul stated. Pte Robert Stark of the Queens RWS was missing September 28, 1916. His military record states that the Effects form was rendered on July 30, 1917, then processed on August 8, 1917. However, Charles Stark, Robert's father, was not given this form until November 27, 1917. Nothing was returned to the family.

It was at this point that Charlie Stark became involved in the Godstone War Memorial Committee. Up until that time he had persisted in his belief that he would find his son again, and demanded explanations from those in power at Whitehall until they used to shut their doors when they saw him coming!

It must have been absolute agony for families of the missing to believe that their boy would come home again. Robert's fiancee persisted in her belief until she saw the medals his family received in 1920 and 1921. It was then that she knew he would not come back again.

Cynthia

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What I am about to relate is a totally skewed sample: officers' files are easy to access at PRO, soldiers' are very difficult by and large.

I have read about 100 officers' files for RWF. It seems that, where there was a legal Will, there was often pressure from family or solicitors for the War Office to "get on with" the formalities of the presumption of death. This occurs time after time in my notes. I don't have an average time for my officers, but it was usually inside a year, and often less.

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If you look at it from another angle... did anyone turn up latere who they thought was dead, even after a year?

John

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I don't have an average time for my officers, but it was usually inside a year, and often less.

You have answered your own question to some extent; officers very often left money or other form of estate, which had to be dealt with. Thus the confirmation of their death was important, as without it no death certificate and no release of funds etc. This is the reason there were courts of enquiry for missing officers, to establish the liklihood of their death so this information could be passed onto the familiy's solicitors.

This was normally not the case with the men, who rarely left behind any sizeable amount of money and whose only Will would have been the one in the back of their AB64.

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Guest stevebec

John W.

You pose an interesting question.

I have not seen it in AIF records but that may be the reason soldiers were shown as MIA believed KIA for so long.

I have a number of both privete and officers families requesting confirmation of deaths (death cirtificates) as stated for the clearing of the soldiers will.

These request were on the whole done on behave of an Insurence company who were in no hurry to pay out money.

Also the reason it took so long was, things take time. Letters from the families to the Army office then to other Army offices in France or UK, they then have to contact people who may be still in the front line or POW camp. Then it goes back down the line to the family.

How long in a peice of string?

S.B

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Guest stevebec

John W.

You pose an interesting question.

I have not seen it in AIF records but that may be the reason soldiers were shown as MIA believed KIA for so long.

I have a number of both privete and officers families requesting confirmation of deaths (death cirtificates) as stated for the clearing of the soldiers will.

These request were on the whole done on behave of an Insurence company who were in no hurry to pay out money.

Also the reason it took so long was, things take time. Letters from the families to the Army office then to other Army offices in France or UK, they then have to contact people who may be still in the front line or POW camp. Then it goes back down the line to the family.

How long is a peice of string?

S.B

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Further to this thread, I attach an official notification of a missing soldier sent to the NOK by the War Office. Thankfully this man survived, but spent the rest of the war as POW. The reverse of this document is quite interesting, and I will post that as well. Both are in b/w to reduce file size.

post-1-1059476179.jpg

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Andrew Hesketh

Paul,

Most interesting.

On the reverse it states "Full lists of the missing are prepared in the War Office". I vaguely recall this question cropping up before, but does anyone know if / where such lists still exist?

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Paul (and others),

The question that started this thread some days ago (asked by John) was : "Could a soldier be considered KIA even if his remains were not found ?"

One of the first replies (Steve) : "A board of unit officers as soon as possible would discuss the missing. At the end the soldier would be declared KIA."

Paul later mentioned cases of Missing men officially listed as dead between 9 - 12 months.

What I would like to know, however : could the period of missing and reported KIA be very short, e.g. only 4 days ?

The case I have in mind is of a soldier who must have fallen (or been missing ?) on a certain day, and the news that he was Killed in Action was received 4 days later (Received from Officer Commanding).

1. Yet he has no known grave (I know, that's not exceptional, and it doesn't prove a thing)

2. Like many dozens (even hundreds) of others he must have fallen in the heat of the fight on that particular day.

3. After the action in which he died, the battalion retreated the same day (evening or late afternoon) and never returned

4. The trenches in which he very probably died were captured by the enemy and remained in their hands for a very long period of time afterwards, certainly much longer than 4 days. (Even : years)

5. There were no personal effects.

These five things make me feel inclined to believe that his remains may have been "seen" at the moment of or right after his death, or maybe not, and that they almost certainly were never recovered behind the own lines.

The next of kin were notified that the soldier had died 15 days after his death. Surely, if indeed the remains had not been seen or recovered, or in other words if there was a chance that the soldier was a POW, the risk of informing the NOK that he was killed, would never have been taken after so short a period (4 days).

So : am I right when I think that his remains had been seen by a comrade or officer at least ?

Aurel Sercu

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I have been researching a 2/Lt. who was killed in Gallipoli June 4th 1915.

There are some interesting letters between the man's father and The War Office regarding if the soldier was actually kia or if taken prisoner. There appears to be a problem with witnesses giving statements confirming the death of the 2/Lt. and then those witnesses being killed in subsequent battles. There's also a record of false information being received by the family of him being a POW. By the end of July 1915 the family appear to believe that their son has been killed but not the Army ; the final communication from the Army appears to be a Royal Warrant for Pay on 8th March 1917.

Does this indicate that economic considerations had an effect on how quickly a soldier was considered kia ?

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