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Presumed dead and family Hardship

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by PAUL STEPHENSON, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Our granddad was attached to the 106 Lancashire fusiliers and killed during the evacuation of Athens 1n 1941. as his body was never found, his record at the time was presumed dead. because of this his wife and three young sons in England endured severe hardship and relied on hand outs from the local church. My question is, was this common practice, did bereaved family's of troops killed in action receive better benefits than family's of troops presumed dead?
     
  2. HA96

    HA96 Member

    Hi,
    I am totally with you and the family about the hardship and I am sure one or more of our members can help.
    Stefan.
     
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  3. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi,

    I think you mean he served with 106 Lancashire Hussars, Royal Horse Artillery?

    Lancashire Hussars - Wikipedia

    If you post his name members will likely be able to show his progression through the official Casualty Lists - likely from Missing In Action to Missing In Action Presumed Killed to a final classification of Killed.

    The Army were very careful in their classification of casualties - both for official purposes and to ensure that family received accurate information. If no information was forthcoming either from other soldiers in post action reports or from German sources via Swiss Red Cross then extensive enquiries were made via the War Office unit based in the Bluecoat School, Wavertree, Liverpool. Those enquiries could take time - have a look at the numerous missing personnel files in the Forum Gallery section.

    My understanding - both from WW1 rules and the application of WW2 rules to Air Force Personnel - is that soldiers would usually be officially recorded as dead if no news was heard after 6 months.

    In your case I would’ve thought his wife would’ve retained her allowance from her husband’s pay (if it had been allotted by her husband) until confirmation of his death and then would in due course have received a pension for herself and the children.

    You need to be remember that there was no “welfare state” at that time so reliance was often made on “means tested” local resources ie Church, Parish Commissioners etc in the absence of state assistance.

    My father told the tale of being in the Western Desert in 1940/41 and receiving a letter from the local Parish Commissioners asking him to increase his allowance for his widowed mother to support his younger siblings after she made a means tested local application for relief. As paper was rare in his location he said he didn’t reply but used the communication for his own personal hygiene.

    Steve
     
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Afraid I don't know about benefits but perhaps this background might be interesting.

    (I recall reading in another file that, while some widows wished the procedure to be speeded up because of hardship, others even fought the presumption of death, preferring instead their hope of a safe return.)

    This was the procedure as set out in 1939.

    General procedure for dealing with Casualties in War, 1939
    "After four months from the date of a Missing list, those accounted for will be deleted and a fresh list (2nd issue) compiled which will - in the case of Other Ranks - be issued to Record Offices whose duty it is to approach next-of-kin (This Section will approach next-of-kin of Officers). The Section will thus make full investigation e.g. enquiries addressed to 2nd Echelon, Depots, Red Cross Society, enemy countries, the various card sections. At the end of 7 months if the Theatre of War is near, or 10 months in an Eastern Theatre of War, names still unaccounted or will be submitted to A.U.S. for the acceptance of death for official purposes, together with a summary of evidence (both submission and summary of evidence will be made on Forms which will be printed after mobilisation). If approved, 2nd Echelon, Card Sections, Record Offices (for Other Ranks) and next-of-kin will be informed (Officers)."

    As you can see by the statists set out in the table below, Casualty Branch was pretty relentless in dealing with the Missing status.
    WW2. Remarkable Statistics.
    Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 02.25.56_zps4508dbvd.png~original.png


    Categories of proof of death discussed in these links
    Casualty: 'Cat C' ...
    Casualty: 'Cat C' ...
    Screenshot 2019-09-15 at 09.43.03.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
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  5. CL1

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

    From dbf thread

    Missing and Presumption of Death Section.

    Enquiries regarding presumption of death will be passed to this Section (in a B.M. bearing a serial number) by the Officers Correspondence Section and the Other Ranks Correspondence Section. If it is considered desirable to register any of these enquiries in the War Office Registry the Officers or Other Ranks Correspondence sections must be notified.

    The form of replies to enquiries will generally be dealt with on the lines of APPENDICES 1 to 12 to this enclosure.

    This Section will be in charge of the two Missing indexes in the Officers and Other Ranks Sections respectively - see Enclosures 23 and 26. It will be responsible for the compilation of lists of Missing to be supplied to the Red Cross Society, Record Offices, etc, for enquiries to be made.

    Procedure will be based on the practice during the Great War which, briefly, was as follows:-

    After four months from the date of a Missing list, those accounted for will be deleted and a fresh list (2nd issue) compiled which will - in the case of Other Ranks - be issued to Record Offices whose duty it is to approach next-of-kin (This Section will approach next-of-kin of Officers). The Section will thus make full investigation e.g. enquiries addressed to 2nd Echelon, Depots, Red Cross Society, enemy countries, the various card sections. At the end of 7 months if the Theatre of War is near, or 10 months in an Eastern Theatre of War, names still unaccounted or will be submitted to A.U.S. for the acceptance of death for official purposes, together with a summary of evidence (both submission and summary of evidence will be made on Forms which will be printed after mobilisation). If approved, 2nd Echelon, Card Sections, Record Offices (for Other Ranks) and next-of-kin will be informed (Officers). (Card Sections will list for distribution
    General procedure for dealing with Casualties in War, 1939
     
  6. Our grandad is named on the Athens memorial. George Edward Welsh 1069930. I recall hearing some of the survivors who were rescued from the sea were interviewed and understand from one statement that George had tried to make it swimming to the coast but was never seen again. George's son (our dad) is still with us and would love to know more.
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: George Welsh
    Given Initials: G E
    Rank: Gunner
    Death Date: 26 Apr 1941
    Number: 1069930
    Birth Place: Newcastle-on-Tyne
    Residence: Durham (County)
    Regiment at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War: Middle East
    Regiment at Death: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death: Royal Artillery

    Casualty
    Gunner
    WELSH, GEORGE EDWARD
    Service Number 1069930
    Died Between 26/04/1941 and 27/04/1941
    Aged 32
    106 (The Lancashire Hussars) Lt A.A. Regt.
    Royal Artillery
    Husband of Margaret Jane Welsh, of Darlington, Co. Durham.

    TD
     
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Your grandfather's name would likely be listed in this Casualty Branch file held at TNA Kew:

    Middle East: Greece, Crete; 106th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery; missing... | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 361/980
    Description: Middle East: Greece, Crete; 106th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery; missing personnel

    These Missing Personnel files are more of a lucky dip than other types. Perhaps it's the source of info already in your possession - about him attempting to swim to shore.
     
  9. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Gew.jpg
     
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  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    My family experienced a similar situation, when my grandfather was reported as missing in Burma on 18th April 1943, my Nan did not receive any monies from the Army until his death as a POW was officially confirmed in May 1945. Fortunately, she was able to return from London to her family home in County Durham, where her family rallied round to help her and her two young children. Through talking with other families, this was not uncommon.
     
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  11. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Extract from List of shipwrecks in April 1941 - Wikipedia

    The troopship Slamat was bombed and sunk in the Argolic Gulf of the Peloponnese (37°01′N 23°10′E) by Junkers Ju 87 aircraft of KG 77 with the immediate loss of 193 of the 843 people aboard. Many survivors were rescued by HMS Diamond and HMS Wryneck but most were killed when those ships were also sunk. Only 5 survived. The combined loss of Slamat, Diamond and Wryneck cost an estimated 983 lives. There were a total of 66 survivors from the three ships.

    These were the main losses for the 26 and 27th April so that George was probably on one of these ships when he was killed.

    If he was on Slamat he was very unlucky to have been bombed twice.

    My father survived a Luftwaffe bombing whilst being evacuated on a ship from Dunkirk. Many of his friends weren't so lucky.

    Hope this helps

    Gus
     
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  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi

    Transcript of letter from one of the RN Wryneck survivors, extracted from HMS Wryneck, destroyer

    "At dawn on the 27th of April H.M.S Wryneck was ordered to sea, and assist in escorting a convoy which was between Greece & Crete. When we were about 2 hours steaming from Crete we sighted the convoy which we were looking for. In the convoy there were the Merchant ship of considerable size, escorted by 3 destroyers & HM Cruiser. We were then told that one of the convoy had already been dive-bombed & hit. We were then at action station, where we had been for the last to days, without any real kind of dinner, but we were even more alert now, that we had heard there were dive bombers in the vicinity. However left the convoy & proceeded to where the badly damaged Ship, was forever dive bombed. We arrived at the scene to find H.M.S Diamond already picking up survivors who were machine-gunned & torn to shreds in the water.

    However, we picked up as many as we could, and then a few of them were already half dead. When we finally satisfied ourselves that there was nothing more to be done, we made up our minds to return to Crete. That was about 12.15, so we put ourselves or rather took up our positions. Diamond then flashed that they were going to torpedo the already badly blazing ship. The Diamond fired one only which hit right amid-ships. We saw the vessel give a great lurch and then begin to sink very quickly. During these operation Dive-Bombers never came near us. Then when they began to think they were saved & all was well, out of nowhere came those Junkers 87, those terrifying dive bombers, with something like vengeance, which they quickly got. All we knew was when we heard the whining of the machine & the machine guns & a second later bombs.

    I never experienced as much in all the war as I did those next five minutes. One bomb landed on the forward gun & wiped out nearly everyone out then one landed on the after gun but lucky only one was hurt, the other one or two were near misses, but they did all the damage. After the Nazis thought they had done a good job which they nearly had, they never bothered us again, which was to my relief. I didn’t fancy having a machine gun bullet in me. However the ship now had a great list to port & was sinking rapidly. My Pal who I owe my life to found me forward in the (galley flat) and these were the words he spoke to me quite calmly. They got us Dolly. Dolly was my nick name in case you want to know . We went out on the Upper Deck together, & he said to me, Have you got a life belt,

    I said no, I didn’t need one, but he gave me one as he had two and we did a bit work together, we untied a Carley Raft & threw it over the side, however the ship was going about 20 knots & we could not hold on to it, that we made our objective. We travelled a bit further on, I should say a few seconds, because all this happened within six minutes. I look over to have a look at the Diamond but it had already gone down. When we finally decided to jump over, me & my pal, we gripped one oar each, before we went. Believe me they came in handy. We made to get clear of the oil-fuel which was now spreading on the water, and then for the rafts which we could not see. When we had swam a couple of miles together, we noticed that someone else had got the whaler free so we made for this, eventually I think we swam about 3 miles before we caught up with the whaler, which we then noticed had collected two rafts, We got to one of these rafts and clambered inboard.

    The time would then be about 2.15 - 2.30. We kept good hearts and I joked with a few of my favourite comrades who were in the whaler. I cannot tell you every little detail, but I’m writing this down to give an idea what I thought was a terrible ordeal.

    It came to dusk & I think we had picked only two more survivors up, then a rough sea sprang up, as I have already told before we were on a raft. However it began to get rougher & rougher every minute. The whaler who was towing us suddenly decided to cut us adrift. We never thought such a thing could happen among English sailors or more so one that you share the same ship & eat with. However when we found to our misfortune that we were actually adrift, we almost gave up. Time wore on hour after hour went by till we thought that we would never be picked up when suddenly about half past three in the morning we sighted a ship but not before they had sighted us, it was a destroyer, one of those dark grey shapes. We realised but it took quite a bit to do so that it was making straight toward us, at least that what we thought, but thank goodness we were wrong. I’ll never forget that night of terror.

    The destroyer finally came along-side us with great skill, and we were pulled up the side of the ship, our legs were numb & we could hardly use them, but we were full of smiles. We were treated splendidly aboard H.M.S. Griffin which was the name of the destroyer. I was only interested about getting something to eat. I didn’t. We got something to drink which did us the world of good. When we arrived at Crete the same morning I was relieved & never wanted to go to sea again. But I'll never forget the splendid behaviour of my ship company."

    Hope this helps

    Gus
     
  13. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    1939 REGISTER
    60 Back King Street, Darlington C.B., Durham

    Name - DOB - Occupation - Marital status
    George E Welsh - 03 Oct 1908 - General Labour - Married - Army Reserve 1069930 Gunner RA
    Margaret J Robinson (Welsh) - 21 Mar 1903 - Unpaid Domestic Duties - Married
    James Welsh - 23 Jan 1934 - At School - Single
    The record for this person is officially closed.
    The record for this person is officially closed.

    Darlington.jpg

    Royal Artillery Attestations:

    Welsh_01.jpg

    Welsh_02.jpg
     
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  14. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Your grandfather was mentioned in 2 army casualty lists:
    1069930 WELSH Gnr GE, 106 Lt A A Regt

    Casualty list No 557 dated 5 July 1941:- Middle East, Greece reported missing 28/4/41
    Casualty list No 1523 dated 12 August 1944:- At Sea, Previously reported missing now presumed killed in action.

    He was also mentioned in the 'List of Missing' dated April 1942, "This list has been compiled by the British War Office for circulation in prisoner of war camps, with a view to obtaining information which prisoners of war may be able to give concerning the fate of missing Army personnel included in the list". It does not indicate that those listed were actually POW.

    Some information on casualty lists here:
    Casualty List No. 1
     
  15. Thanks for all of this amazing information. this is a copy of acknowledgement of George Killed in action, 1946. Question, once a service man or woman were announced dead during ww2, what financial assistance did their next of kit receive?
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi,

    You may find the information you require on the internet if you persist in searching. It will likely be recorded in Hansard - the key is identifying the correct search words:wacko:

    This link will give hopefully you an insight -

    The World Wars

    Steve
     
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  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  18. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

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