CWGC project to resolve unrecorded war casualties

Discussion in 'Non-Commemorated War Dead' started by ritsonvaljos, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    In case anyone has not yet heard of the initiative by the CWGC to resolve allegedly unrecorded WW1 and WW2 casualties, this is a link to the CWGC press release (January 2014):

    The three bodies involved in the process are:

    the CWGC;
    the National Army Museum;
    the Army.

    From this, one can assume the Army will adjudicate not just when the alleged unrecorded casualty was a soldier but also those who served in the RAF, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and civilian casualties.

    The reasoning behind the project is as follows:

    "National Project to Honour Unrecorded World War Casualties
    07 January 2014

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will be working with the National Army Museum and the Army to investigate cases of First and Second World War Soldiers and officers who are currently not commemorated as war casualties.

    Every year, the Army receives a steady stream of claims from descendants and others who believe their loved ones names should be recognised. These missing names predominately relate to soldiers and officers who died of their injuries away from the battlefield. Many of these casualties died whilst still in service, but casualties who were discharged as unfit because of their injuries and subsequently died may also be eligible for commemoration.

    The CWGC will be working with the Museum and the Army to establish the individual's eligibility for official recognition of their sacrifice.

    The Commission's Commemorations Policy Manager, Nic Andrews said, "The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is looking forward to working with the National Army Museum and to ensuring those servicemen and women who died in the two world wars are commemorated in a manner befitting their sacrifice."

    David Bownes, Assistant Director of the National Army Museum, said: "Restoring honour to the casualties of the World Wars is a deserving enterprise and one that the National Army Museum's experts are well-equipped to investigate and substantiate."

    The British Army: "We are committed to ensuring all those who died as a result of their Service in the World Wars receive the recognition they deserve for their sacrifice and bravery. The partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the National Army Museum will ensure that all those in the Army who gave their lives will be honoured.

    All three organisations are involved and committed to ensuring that the courage and sacrifice of soldiers and officers who died as a result of their service in the First or Second World Wars is not forgotten."
  2. chrisharley9

    chrisharley9 Senior Member

    The NAM will look after all army casualties of both world wars.

    The RAF, RN & MN already have their own systems in place

    Civilian war dead the responsibility sits with CWGC itself
  3. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    This press release unaccountably fails to mention the wonderful 'In From the Cold' project whereby a group of volunteers have researched scores of unrecorded men and had nearly 2,000 of them accepted for commemoration by the CWCC over the past few years. See their website for details. I have nothing to do with the project, incidentally.
    geoff501 likes this.
  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Since the Army have not moved forward on the for around 2 years, I will watch with interest. There are over 470 cases in the queue, and many are probably army.
  5. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Not surprising that IFTC is not mentioned since this is a NAM release.

    And I don't think the statement about most of the missing are soldiers/officers who died away from the battlefield is accurate. We (IFTC) found hundreds of overseas deaths, with no known burial.
    I think there may be a much larger group of missing from home deaths who qualify. Due to the destruction of records, few of these will ever be found.
    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  7. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Over the years I have contacted the CWGC regarding a number of 'unrecorded' WW1 or WW2 casualties, or some where the details were incomplete or incorrect. Obviously this has not been any where near as many as the "In From The Cold" volunteers have submitted. I am sure there are other forum members who have also submitted details of omissions and discrepancies to the Commission.

    From my own experience of the process, such as it has been prior to this new one, sometimes it has been resolved quickly ... and some are still not yet resolved. For example, in one case I know of, a soldier in WW1 was badly injured pulling a Field Gun on the Western Front (broken pelvis and other serious complications). This fellow was eventually sent back to hospital in Britain and finally discharged (with a small disability pension) at the end of February 1917, then died of wounds in early April 1917. This fellow has currently has no headstone of any kind. His case was submitted to the CWGC in June 2012, apparently passed on to the M.O.D. (Army), and he is still not commemorated. After more than 18 months, one wonders where the case is within the process .... or has it been sent back to the start under the new procedure?

    In a couple of other cases, the person at the CWGC said baptism / marriage / burial documents were unacceptable (because they were in Latin) even though a translation into English was provided. The reason these official records were in Latin was because the casualty was a Roman Catholic and official Catholic Church registers (where I had obtained part of the case evidence) were all written in Latin at that time. Eventually, after questioning this reasoning, they did eventually accept some acceptable official records could be written in a language other than English. Thus, one assumes documentation written in Welsh, Gaelic, French, Latin etc would all now be acceptable.

    Under the previous process they seemed to expect the 'enquirer' to provide all the documentary evidence for them (at the enquirer's expense). The cost to the enquirer would soon mount up where several casualties are involved and if they are requesting birth / marriage / death certificates (which do not do not get returned!). The enquirer is not necessarily a relative of the casualty but just (like the "IFTC" project) attempting to get official recognition for the ultimate sacrifice of a service man or woman.

    One would hope with staff from the N.A.M. being given the task of researching the cases submitted to them, they will take responsibility of obtaining marriage / death certificates where necessary. Before this new procedure of January 2014 many enquirers will have been put off by the effort and cost of what has sometimes been a difficult and frustrating process.
  8. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

  9. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Very few, if any, army submissions have been processed in the last 2 years, since retirement left the post open.

    Wait and see how the NAM system works out before worrying too much. They are due to start processing submissions from this month.

    EDIT: removed stray quote box.
  10. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    I don't think NAM will be obtaining certificates (at 10 GPB a time), the army did not. Someone has to pay GRO, even though it is between two government departments. In fact I don't think they (or CWGC) will be doing any research, just approving (or rejecting) cases put forward by the public and IFTC.

    Under the IFTC scheme, if you submitted the application through them and it was successful, you got the certificate fee back. Not sure if the pot of cash still exists and this still applies though. Chris Harley may know?
  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    It was left that they require further proof (which forum members have tried to assist) even though we have a death cert.
    As Geoff says I will wait and see and chase up in the coming months.
  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    If the NAM experts are as hot as their press officers, we should see results fairly soon.

    If not, Letters will be written!
  13. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit


    You posted, in the linked thread:

    "I have receive DC and it states service number and death due to war operations."

    Should go through OK
    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  14. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    If this is what is written on the definitive document it is straightforward enough. There should not really be a hold up.

    According to the National Army Museum's press release about its involvement with the project, its is "... tasked with researching the cases to corroborate whether they died as result of their service."

    It may be the interpretation I would give to the phrase "... tasked with researching the cases..." is different to how the N.A.M. interprets it (especially if they are not going to personally obtain the required documentation which may involve a fee).
  15. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Geoff

    yes but they dont believe he died whilst in the RAF.
    They require further proof that he died due to bombing as a civilian casualty.

  16. chrisharley9

    chrisharley9 Senior Member


    There is still some money in the pot & applies to post discharge as well as in service deaths

    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  17. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    In case it is of general interest to understand the current 'state of play' I have now received a reply from the CWGC about the WW1 non-commemoration I submitted in June 2012 (Gunner Mahone). I will not quote all of the reply here. The following should be enough to understand it is basically still waiting for the new procedure to commence:

    "... (it) [SIZE=12pt]is included in the backlog of cases currently with NAM, consequently the Commission must wait for NAM’s adjudication on the case before any action can be taken to commemorate Gunner Mahone.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]It is understood that the delay in the progress of British Army non-commemoration cases is a source of frustration, but it is hoped that the news that arrangements are now in place to address this issue can be seen as a positive development.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=12pt]At present it is not possible to predict how swiftly the backlog will be cleared, but please be reassured that the Commission stands ready to act when a decision about Gunner Mahone’s case is received."[/SIZE]

    If very few (if any) cases have been looked at for going on two years it is going to take some time to clear the inevitable backlog that has built up.
    CL1 likes this.
  18. John L Dixon

    John L Dixon Researcher

    I have just submitted a note to MoD and CWGC regarding the commemoration on Memorials (such as Dunkirk or El Alamein) of men who were captured there and subsequently died as PoWs, but then their graves were unable to be recovered and consolidated - post-War - into CWGC Cemeteries or plots.

    It appears that the International Red Cross sent the details of their burials, which had been supplied by the German authorities, to the War Office at the time but these were not passed on to CWGC at the end of the War - once it was clear that Graves Registration could not access the remains. They are listed as having "no known grave" - but the graves do exist in some cases.

    With the political changes in Eastern Europe the time is surely come when these men deserve appropriate headstones and adequate commemoration?

    The official response to my note is awaited.
    ritsonvaljos and CL1 like this.
  19. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    The WW1 casualty referred to the CWGC for official recognition (Gunner John Joseph Mahone, died 02/04/1917) has eventually been concluded after two years. Henceforth he will be classed as an official war casualty and commemorated by the Commission 'in perpetuity'. It may take a long time but if the appropriate, fact-based evidence can be found then it can sometimes work.
  20. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    There are around 40 - 64 cases being approved per month under the new system. However good months have included Australians and Mercantile Marine, who are not approved by UK army, so 50 a month may be average. There are 330 (IFTC) cases outstanding, I expect it to take longer than 6 months since there will be difficult cases to deal with.
    dbf likes this.

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