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serreroad

Telegrams

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serreroad

Hi folks

I had assumed until recently that ALL missing/died in action notifications were delivered by telegram, but is this the case, or were next of kin sometimes notified by "standard" mail? If so, what dictated the method, eg urgency of notification, rank of the subject, location of the next of kin, etc?

Any info appreciated.

Thanks

Mike

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saberhagen427

My great-grandfather was notified missing by mail, not by telegram. You can see a scan of the form here. He was in a Territorial Battalion, and the notification came from the TF Record Office.

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John_Hartley

Mike

I've limited understanding of these things but it is that only officer next of kin were notified by telegram.

My reading of several letters published in the local press suggest that, often, the first notification could come from a comrade or company officer rather than anything more official.

John

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truthergw

My Granny got letters. One for missing and another for DOW.

EDIT

I just thought I would add that there were quite a few deliveries every day.

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serreroad

Thanks folks. The conclusion would seem to be then that only officers' next of kin got telegrams? I can see that being feasible in towns & cities, but do we think that would also have applied in villages and out-of-the-way properties, eg remote farms, crofts, etc? (Did the telegram service operate outside major conurbations???) And what about the families of empire troops, officers or rank? Would they have been notified by letter, or would they not even get that level of courtesy?

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zippo

when my uncle was killed at ypres ,his brother who was also serving sent a telegram to his bank in london asking that an old family friend be notified and requested that he inform the family,which he did.

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Borden Battery

My late Grandfather, a private in the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery, Canadian Expeditionary Force, had his next of kin notified by telegram. I have attached the website with all his letters and the excerpt from this website which includes the text of the telegram.

Borden Battery

=======================================

* Pte. Richard William Mercer - 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade +

The website publishes the personal letters by an ordinary Canadian soldier from 1915 to 1919. The site makes extensive use of footnotes to explain the background and context of the comments of a young private in the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He served at the Battle of Hill 70, Passchendaele, the Luddendorf Offensive and the Last Hundred Days.[Dwight Mercer/Borden Battery website courtesy of Brett Payne][CEF Study Group]

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~b...wm_letters.html

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Canadian Pacific R'Y. CO.'s Telegraph

TELEGRAM

WN-MA-S-850-15

31 MH Ottawa, Ont. Nov. 14-17

Mrs. Georgina Mercer

Theodore

8772 sincerely regret inform you nine one one nought one six Private Richard William Mercer artillery officially reported admitted one field ambulance depot november sixth nineteen seventeen concussion Director of Records

-----------------------------------------------------------------

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Martin Bennitt
Thanks folks. The conclusion would seem to be then that only officers' next of kin got telegrams? I can see that being feasible in towns & cities, but do we think that would also have applied in villages and out-of-the-way properties, eg remote farms, crofts, etc? (Did the telegram service operate outside major conurbations???) And what about the families of empire troops, officers or rank? Would they have been notified by letter, or would they not even get that level of courtesy?

Popular histories tell of people in working class areas dreading the sight of the telegraph boy coming up the street on his red bicycle, hoping he will not call at their house. If he was only for the officers he would have been a rare sight in such areas, and most people would be breathing a sigh of relief.

cheers Martin B

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dycer

This is an extract from my Uncle's Obituary.OR DofW January 1915.I've not got the date of the Newspaper but I would assume February 1915

"Previous to receiving word of his Son's death(my Grandfather),received a letter from his eldest Son,stating he was the first to pick up his Brother when he fell."

Unfortunately the Official Correspondence does not survive but it would appear notification was quicker direct from the trenches than through official channels,certainly earlier in the War.

George

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DaveBrigg

post-7552-1174003257.jpg

Robert Eminson was killed on 20th July 1916, and from the date on the telegram it looks like it was four days before the family were notified. If circumstances allowed it, there was certainly time for the news to arrive unofficially first.

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serreroad

Fascinating insights, esp the personal documents - many thanks. The evidence would suggest that there was certainly no great urgency in informing next of kin, so telegrams may not have been considered necessary in the majority of circumstances?

Martin B - Your quote form the "popular histories" was precisely my view until recently, but is it an urban myth? Do you have any specific sources?

Mike

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Martin Bennitt
Fascinating insights, esp the personal documents - many thanks. The evidence would suggest that there was certainly no great urgency in informing next of kin, so telegrams may not have been considered necessary in the majority of circumstances?

Martin B - Your quote form the "popular histories" was precisely my view until recently, but is it an urban myth? Do you have any specific sources?

Mike

Sorry Mike, only just seen your post. I'm at work at the moment so will have to look later.

Re time it took for telegrams to be delivered: notoriously, Wilfred Owen was killed on November 4, 1918, his parents received the fatal telegram as the bells were ringing for the armistice a week later.

cheers Martin B

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truthergw
Fascinating insights, esp the personal documents - many thanks. The evidence would suggest that there was certainly no great urgency in informing next of kin, ...................

Mike

To be fair, the delay may well have reflected uncertainty and confusion at the front. Men could well be receiving treatment in another unit's facilities, a missing man could be captured or still lying out. After a large battle with the usual casualties, it would be some time before all the reports were in.

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simon2

My Great Grandfather was posted missing in Gallipoli 03/05/1915.

A telegram was sent to the Admiralty Record Office,Royal Naval Division,Victoria Street SW London and a subsequent letter (not a form)signed by a Lt.RNVR O in C records was sent to my Great Grandmother from there. Unfortunately I don't know how long after he was reported missing, found to be missing did they send the telegram to London.

Simon.

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DaveBrigg

Here's an officer who died at Gallipoli, where there was a delay of five days before the telegram was sent. He is listed as KIA, and was one of only two Lincs men to die that day.

post-7552-1174606965.jpg

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serreroad

Dave's copy above would suggest again then (?) that officers' next of kin were advised by telegram. Or is that just because its still early in the war? I am still fascinated to know if the telegram boys really did spend their days riding up & down working class streets during the big battles of 1916/17.

Thanks all.

Mike

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John84

After the Somme 1916, our colliery village Doctor took the unofficial responsibility delivering letters in his horse and trap with the postman anything that looked official to peoples doors...needless to say his horse and trap brought panic when seen in the streets. This has been told to me by several sources, including the Doctors grandson who just happens to be one of our village doctors today.

John.

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alliekiwi

Regarding Commonwealth [Empire] soldiers... I don't know if my great great grandparents recieved a telegram or not, but there could be certainly quick notification - even down to NZ.

My great great uncle died of wounds on February 22, 1917 in France. The Dannevirke Evening News (small provincial newspaper in NZ) stated in their edition of Thursday March 1st:

Word came to hand yesterday afternoon of the death of...

So they found out on February 28th. Admittedly, Uncle Jock was a Lieutenant. Taking into account the International dateline, Uncle Jock would probably have died on the 23rd NZ time, and they received notification 5 days later.

However, sometimes you see notices in the paper months after the event. But I don't know if families might have been notified earlier.

Allie

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DaveBrigg

By way of contrast, the letter below refers to a man who went missing on 27th May 1918 when their position was overun. Faced with no body and a lack of information it was fourteen months before the death was notified and the parents were able to accept that they had lost their son.

post-7552-1175502722.jpg

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Jarvis

There appears to be some difference between a Death Telegram and a Death Notification. I have a scan of Death Telegram dated 12/11/1918 (one day after the war ended) and also a Death Notification dated 27 September 1919 which gives the place of burial. the man in question was KIA on 03/11/1918.

Jarvis

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