Not a Battle Casualty

Discussion in 'General' started by AB64, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    A few of the Service books I have in my collection are to men who are initially recorded in the Casualty Returns as Wounded but later amended to "Not a Battle Casualty" - interested in any thoughts suggestions on the meaning behind this? One seems to have been a very clear Battle Casualty and the another was with a Battalion that was heavily engaged when he was wounded. I've shown the examples below
  2. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member


    5950776 Reginald Hassler, 6th Bedford and Herefordshire Regiment attached to the 3rd Gold Coast Regiment - he lost his hand and was badly wounded by an Italian grenade that he was throwing away, detail from the below medical card - another piece of paperwork says he was wounded in the Juba River action - I can't really see why he would be changed to not a battle casualty
    2.JPG 3.JPG 4.jpg 5.jpg
  3. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member


    14810151 John May of the 6th Cameronian's, wounded 8th May 1945, this ties in with the Battalions attack on Alpon, I know that doesn't prove that he was wounded in that action but again it seems likely it was linked

    2.JPG 3.jpg 4.jpg
  4. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member


    14358358 Ernest Barrow Edgley of the 1st York & Lancs, wounded 22 January 1944
    2.jpg 3.jpg
  5. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I think the answer probably lies in the definition of 'Battle casualty'. My interpretation would be that the wounding had to occur during direct engagement with the enemy. Any other incident being recorded as 'not a Battle casualty'.

  6. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member


    843900 James North of 7th Leicester's, serving as 47 Chindit Column - as seen below he suffered a GSW to the leg, not sure the exact date but I believe they were still in action when he was wounded
    4.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From Casualty Branch files, a few instructions referring to battle casualties, non-battle casualties, battle accidents:

    TNA WO 417 - War Office: Army Casualty Lists, 1939-45 War

    Sub. No: 735
    Subject: Casualties - classification of.

    Some confusion exists with regard to the classification of casualties reported from Theatres of War. These classifications are as follows:-

    Section I. "Battle" Casualties.

    Physical exhaustion (i.e. exhaustion brought about by prolonged exertion, lack of food, drink and sleep, occurring on a field of battle due to causes other than disease or inquiry and necessitating admission to hospital).

    Blast Injury
    Concussion due to blast

    Section II. "Non-battle" Casualties.

    Exhaustion (i.e. heat exhaustion, or exhaustion due to cause other than those classified as "battle" casualties - e.g. exhaustion due to disease or injury).

    Anxiety neurosis
    (This term is strictly incorrect, but when employed by reporting authorities it should be regarded as indicating "sickness" and not a "battle" casualty).

    G.H.Q. 2nd Echelon have been instructed that when reporting casualties in Section I the letters "BC" will be shown after the nature of the casualty; the term "Sickness" will similarly be shown when reporting casualties in Section II.

    Officers i/c Records should not report on A.Fs W.3016 those casualties listed in Section II except in cases of death when distinction should be made by insertion of the terms "BC" or "Sickness" as necessary.

    45/Gen/5296 Cas.(L )


    Sub. No: 996
    Subject: Casualties - Classification of.

    In future casualty classifications (additional to the normal) will be as follows:-

    Section I "Battle" Casualties
    Blast Injury
    Concussion due to blast

    Section II "Non-Battle" Casualties
    Exhaustion (all cases of nervous and physical exhaustion will be classified as "Exhaustion.")
    Anxiety Neurosis

    With reference to Field Service Regs, Vol. 1, 1930, Chapter V, Section 26, para 3, the term "Sick (NYDN)" will not be used in future. Such cases will be classified as "Exhaustion".

    On no account will the term "Shell-shock" be used in diagnosis or in describing a casualty or case of sickness.

    The above instructions have been forwarded by the War Office (A.G.1.A ) to Overseas Commands concerned, but it will naturally be some appreciable time before they can be implemented by G.H.Q. 2nd Echelon.

    Officers i/c Records will not report on A.Fs. W.3016 those casualties listed in Section II except in cases of death.

    With effect from 14 February 1944, no cases of "Exhaustion" will be reported to the War Office Casualty Branch on A.F. W.3016 as Battle casualties, even though so reported by G.H.Q. 2nd Echelon. The latter will be notified of any such corrections in order that the records maintained Overseas may be amended.

    Circular Instruction No. 735 dated 24 May 1943 is cancelled.

    45/Gen/5296 A.G.1. (Records)


    Sub. No: 1027
    Subject: The following WOCINDOC which had been issued is republished for general information.

    Battle Accidents.

    Accidental injuries sustained in action or in proximity to the enemy are battle casualties, as are also accidental injuries which are not sustained in action or in proximity to the enemy, provided they were caused by fixed apparatus (e.g. land mines) laid as defences against the enemy, as distinct from those employed for training purposes, and provided the personnel killed or injured were on duty and not to blame. Other accidental injuries sustained in forward areas but not in action or in proximity to the enemy will not be regarded as battle casualties, but as "Battle Accidents".

    "Battle Accidents" will not be reported to Home Authorities except in the case of:-
    Dangerously ill
    Seriously ill
    cases involving the loss of an eye, a limb, hand or foot, when the words "Battle Accident" will be used in the report.

    A.F. B.117 will not be used in the case of "Battle Accidents" except where the accident is caused or contributed to by gross negligence of the injured person, or misconduct falling short of wilful self-injury, but the casualty will be published in Part II Orders and entries will be made on individual's documents, the words "Battle Accident" being used in both cases.

    45/Gen/6901 A.G.1 (Records)
    timuk and AB64 like this.
  8. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Thanks for that extra info, I guess the lines could be quite blurred, but the first one above baffles me, the next couple I don't know the type of injury they could have tripped and broken an ankle while forming up for a fight or anything - one day their service records may help.

    I think the entries just catch the eye, there is something about them that seems to be diminishing the original entry, kind of taking away some of the credit -its a lesser thing, which for the first lad who lost a hand and suffered multiple wounds doesn't seem fair.
  9. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    So what is "wounded"? Battle reports list wounded, POW & Killed statistics.
    I think there would be a range of wounds/injuries experienced and at the low end of the scale it needs a wound dressing and the soldier resumes their role and at the other end they are stretchered off the field and evacuated to RAP, then ADS, Hospital etc.
    Is there a clear army definition?
  10. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    On the Casualty Returns its not unusual to see "remained at duty" or similar. I have a book to a man who broke his ankle during the retreat with the BEF, it has his field medical treatment card etc - I'd have thought that may have been an example of "not a battle casualty" but he's not in the returns at all
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    My guess is that someone in authority in the unit would have decided to report some casualties as "Not in battle"#

    The implication is that Hasler's wound did not occur in the middle of a battle. Perhaps he threw the grenade as an act of foolish curiosity after the action.
    AB64 likes this.
  12. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Just a thought.
    Sjt Hasler. I notice here that you say 'throwing back'
    Whereas in #2 you correctly repeat the documentation as 'throwing away'. I would think 'throwing back' indicates an act that happened during battle but 'throwing away' could mean he was merely clearing up or disposing of the grenade after the action when it unfortunately exploded.

    AB64 likes this.
  13. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Its possible, but then the document does describe it as "Battle wounds" - you have prompted me to check as I have a memory of Italian grenades (red devils) being a bit "iffy" and a google does show they had a reputation for going off after the event, but even then if he had been clearing up/disposing of would this not count as Battle Casualty (unless he was messing around and juggling with them or something)
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I think we need to accept that some confusion is due to differences in classification between Cas. Branch and 2nd Echelon (who were the first reporters) but also due to changes for the purposes of statistical reporting during the course of the war,

    eg "With effect from 14 February 1944, no cases of "Exhaustion" will be reported to the War Office Casualty Branch on A.F. W.3016 as Battle casualties, even though so reported by G.H.Q. 2nd Echelon."

    I recall reading in IG History about two men who received severe leg injuries during action in Normandy. They were taking cover when they were run over by a Sherman tank. I'd say that was a Battle Accident, but were they classified as Non-battle Casualties because they weren't injured by the enemy, or were they Battle Casualties because they were injured while the enemy was engaged?

    I've also seen "Wounded, remained on duty". Reporting of the wounded to Casualty Branch (and therefore Casualty Lists) would surely rely entirely on records forwarded to and by 2nd Echelon. (Categories seem to have been amended by Cas. Branch whenever required, before publication on lists, or amended under 'Errata' after the fact.)
    My father was wounded by shrapnel to the face & ordered to report to RAP; a notice later in local newspaper states "twice wounded". And yet he does not appear on any published casualty list.
  15. ecalpald

    ecalpald Chick LaPlace

    Attached is an example of a case where Cpl John S. Phillips, of the 11 Cdn Field Ambulance, was killed accidently after being wounded in action.
    The Unit's War Diary, 8 Aug 1944, reports:
    "Capt Lewis & Capt Fleming & Capt Richardson with #1 & #5 Sections moved to Roquancourt about 1700 hours and commenced to dig in. They had a bulldozer from the R.C.E.s to help them. About 1900 hours, Cpl. Phillips and Pte Edwards were hit by an 88mm shell blast, both minor wounds. Pte MacDonald, H.P., jeep amb driver, was detailed to take them back. On the trip the jeep amb was hit by a Cdn tank, and Pte MacDonald and Cpl Phillips were badly injured. Cpl Phillips died before he reached 18 Cdn Fd Amb ADS."
    The attached PDFs show that he "Died of wounds as the result of enemy action."


    Attached Files:

  16. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    I have found this elsewhere on the site and wonder now if the key word is "non-effective"??
    "Maintenance of statistics of all personnel who become non-effective, either in the theatre of war or elsewhere, owing to wounds in action, other wounds or injuries, sickness, or being shown as prisoners of war, or missing."

    Any comments?
  17. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    I once saw a record book of an RAMC Doctor in Burma. As I am from Leicester I distinctly recall a record of Leicesters being shot in the leg - the entry began "Nearby Cpl. cleaning revolver.......". I wonder if it is the same incident.

    Mule related injuries also featured.

Share This Page