Unknown ..believed to be.

Discussion in 'Durham Light Infantry' started by Verrieres, May 29, 2011.

  1. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    I`m not sure if this is the right heading for this item but I could not find one that really fitted this item.

    A few weeks ago I was very fortunate to be sent two pages from a file released by the National archives .Dated from 1946 it is the discovery of a British Soldier buried as an unknown at Catania.Please read the document and initially post your comments on what you believe would be my next course of action and if you feel this should have come to light sooner.There is more to this story but I need to have your opinions which I value highly.Thank You
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    JIm
    this is all very odd as he appears to have all sorts of strange bits and pieces with him such as the press studs - Zipper - in 1943 - that is odd as it was all buttons in those days - would expect Americans to have Zippers but they were not even close at that time on Primosole - hard to advise your next move on this - it's a bit weird having the dental records sent out - so there has to be more records - somewhere - which might be the next move to find them- the field dressing and trenching tool were standard issue and the makers are well known - Smith and Nephew make all sorts of bandages with factories all over the Uk - used to visit one of them near Manchester in the 50's - and the arrow is the War Office mark...
    Cheers
     
  3. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    M.E.C. The Mills Co of USA, set up in GB 1890' produced the 1908 pattern webbing for the British Army used into the start of WW2 - the later 37 pattern webbing and '44' pattern (tropical) the machinery was sold post war to India where these later patterns were continued for some years. I can remember using blocks of blanco KG103 (Khaki Green 103)


    Newey Pat (ent) 201-420-22 I will look this patent No up, - Newey Bros' 105/127 Brearley St Birmingham among many things - suppliers of buttons,studs,fasteners and 'zips' to the military.



    NeweySnaps1.jpg
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Sounds like a Denision Smock with all the press studs and zip.

    Whilst the Para's may not have been in the area (I know nowt about the Italian campaign) could he have been attached to some SF unit and jumped into the area?

    I've got a British Army uniform book that covers most bits of kit that was issued, if you have no joy Jim I'll look through it in a week or so if you remind me.

    A
     
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Jim
    Could you try to trace any living relatives of the suspected identity of the man? It'd be interesting first of all to know if the family were ever told of this possibility.

    Also, in respect of CWGC, I wonder if they hold similar information in their records? I shouldn't think they'd discuss it with non-relatives though.

    Was this from a 'Missing Personnel' file by any chance, or something else? Recently I've been wondering if there is any paperwork at Kew relating to Grave Units as I have a book written by an officer who post hostilities conducted 'concentration' disinterments in North Africa and in Germany. His comments about conditions were quite interesting though he discussed the logistics rather than the details; been a while since I read it.
     
  6. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hello,
    Thank you to those who have put forward views on this issue they mirror my own initial thoughts on the whole but one thing I was convinced of is something Tom hit on in the first reply;-

    it's a bit weird having the dental records sent out - so there has to be more records - somewhere -

    I agree 100% Thanks Tom.More on this will become apparent I promise:)

    The equipment issue as Wills and Drew have touched on is also very interesting (Andy the Paras were at Primosole by the way) but I was told by an old soldier that if you came across a bit of kit that was better than yours(irrespective of Nationality) you would have it! I don`t know if this is true or not our veterans will be able to supply the answer I`m sure.This might explain the miss match?Thanks again for the input :)

    Diane,We are thinking along the same lines I have been in contact with the CWGC and will put our correspondence down in my next post. The file itself is also referred to during the correspondence its a `Searcher Team File` I`m told.

    Thanks Again
     
  7. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Observations on the file pages are these and I confess I may be looking too deeply into this and drawing on the wrong conclusions but here goes;-

    The body uncovered is stated to be a British Soldier killed near Primosole Bridge in July 1943 the circumstances of his discovery put his death as first two weeks of July 1943 the body was interred at Catania under an `Unknown` headstone date of death 18th JULY 1943 outside of the two weeks initially implied ?
    Over 400 British Soldiers are `Missing or unknown` for this period .How or Why does the report believe this to be 1488974 Pte George Evans The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry formerly of The Royal Artillery,there certainly seems to have been more to this investigation than the brief summary on these pages? Bearing this in mind I thought I would seek the opinion of someone who deals with these things on a daily basis.... the CWGC.(see the Correspondence Post and draw your own conclusions please I will make mine plain at the end of it.) I assuming the CWGC could find out more once I gave them the File number, suggested perhaps with hindsight that this grave could be named or at least have a `Known to be Buried in this Cemetery` headstone?
    The Dental records......My imagination started to run a bit wild here I`m afraid ..This soldiers teeth had been knocked out prior to death and a bullet to the left side of his head near his ear..execution? I know speculation the ricochet from the bullet may have deflected through his head and knocked out his teeth I appreciate that but a possibility none the less?
    The Correspondence Post I`ll put below perhaps I asked too many questions perhaps I expected too much?
     
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Verrieres. Kit, indeed swapping or using kit found, left behind etc, has always been the norm, officially frowned upon. I have known soldiers put in the report for having two or more of an item of kit, the presumption being that somewhere there is a soldier short and you have stolen it, the system - being the army - did not have to prove you did - you had to prove you did not steal. Of course in wartime I imagine this would not have been of much import.
     
  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The attention to detail of these teams is most impressive considering the circumstances. What sort of burden of proof did the war graves commission find necessary at the time ? Was the concern to avoid a mis-identification greater than a higher percentage of 'unknown' graves - there were a lot of those anyway.

    Did they need to find something with a service number or at least initials on ?

    My Dad's service records include a detailed dental treatment chart and presumably that was standard practice but the damage to this skull might make an accurate ID impossible.
     
  10. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Below is the correspondence to date with the CWGC .My questions are plain text the quotes are CWGC replies.Thanks;-

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I would like to draw your attention to a file which was opened at the
    National Archives only last month.The file is WO 361/738 and deals with
    'Searcher Parties' who traced personnel missing from operations, unlocated ex-prisoners of war and located missing graves: (North Africa and Sicily) I have been sent a sample from this file (which I have attached here) this two page document deals with the descovery of the body of a soldier discovered in 1946 and buried at Catania as `British Soldier Killed July 1943` The bottom paragraph indicates this `unknown` may actually have an identity 1488974 Pte G Evans of The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.If this is so would there be a possibility that either the `missing mans` headstone could be replaced with one that identifies him or at least one that recognises that Pte Evans `is believed buried in this cemetery` I notice this poor soul is still commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

    Best Wishes

    Dear Mr
    Thank you very much for sending in the field exhumation reports sourced from the National Archives.

    We are surprised that this sensitive information has ended up in the public domain since it may cause upset should the family become aware of it.

    As with your own observations, hopes may also be raised that identification may be possible at this late stage when it was not possible to do so at the time.

    It is this latter point that I focus on in as much as the Graves Concentration & Registration Units, apart from any physical evidence found with the body, had access to all the service records including medical records, eye witness accounts, war diaries etc when it came to determining the identity of the unknowns.

    Belief does not constitute fact and for whatever reason, it would seem to me that the evidence, relying on partial dental records and first hand accounts alone, was dismissed.

    A search of our records database reveals that there are 427 UK Army personnel who died between the 10 July and the 17 August 1943 (the time of the Sicilian Campaign) who have no known grave and are commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.
    Whilst I agree with your sentiments, it would be necessary to whittle this list down to just the one individual in order to put a name on the grave, either known or “Believed to be”

    Yours sincerely




    Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your reply to my E-Mail regarding the possible new information whilst I can see the difficulties in erecting such a headstone but can I direct you to one fact which you have rightly pointed out ,that there were over 400 men known to be killed in this period, then may I ask how was this record made at the time able to be named to a solitary DLI soldier given that so many were missing? I feel some investigation or evidence must have been found at the time.

    The fact that you were not aware of this record suggests you (CWGC)were never informed at the time of its existance? I do not have the full file which I referenced in our first correspondence perhaps there is more within? My title of `Possible New Information Regarding Missing Casualty`may be misleading as this seems to be old evidence which was never actioned?

    The time which has lapsed has no bearing on this matter if a positive
    identification,or at least the chance of one is possible do you not feel it is
    worthy of further investigation? To simply dismiss this record seems unfair to both the family and this man who gave his life ,this is not sentiment it is fact.I appreciate the work the commision does and under such financial
    restraints but will you be making an enquiry to the National Archives in
    respect of this file to determine on what basis the identification was made ?

    Yours Faithfully

    Dear Mr
    You asked for my opinion on the evidence which you presented which I was happy to give. I am a little surprised therefore that that you infer that I am being dismissive.

    The records which were passed to us by the relevant Service Authorities after the wars were by no means fulsome, suffice to say that they were sufficient only to enable the Commission to carry out it's Charter task of commemorating the war dead. This was either by provision of a headstone marking a known grave or where there was no known grave on a memorial to the missing.

    I think I should stress that the Commission were not and are not involved in the process of identification. We were never tasked to carry out such investigations. This was and remains the responsibility of the relevant Service Authority.

    I assure you that I do intend making a visit shortly to the National Archives in the course of my normal duties and I shall certainly be interested in this file if only to advise the Service Authorities of its existence and the upset it has quite clearly caused already.

    Yours sincerely




    Sir,
    Thank you once again for your reply.I am being by no means dismissive at all merely enquiring if this was an end to the matter or if the commision would pursue this file? I pointed out clearly,that by your comments , you were unaware of the file that is all.The file has caused no upset at all this is a `Search team` file which is public and this is only one such case.The missing men files and War Crimes files are all freely available and I should think these would cause more upset.I`m sorry but the truth should come out and in this case should have come out in 1946 when this lad was found. Your comment "I think I should stress that the Commission were not and are not involved in the process of identification. We were never tasked to carry out such investigations. This was and remains the responsibility of the relevant Service Authority." clarifies a point I assumed ,obviously wrongly,that any such information should be directed to yourselves.

    From your website another quote "The Commission works closely with Member Governments to aid identification and to arrange burials of these servicemen" by submitting the document I too sought to perhaps `aid identification` I did not imagine an instant recognition of this lads details but what I had hoped was a simple `Thank You for bringing our attention to the matter it is something we will look into` again I seem to be wrong again.

    This File I fear is going to cause you problems and from the tone of your
    replies I assume you would rather it not have been released to the Public but as you said the commision is not involved in the process of identification so I will attempt to find out who exactly who is.

    Best Wishes

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sorry but the last one was me venting a bit of frustration.I fully support the brilliant work of the CWGC but I know when someone is trying to backheel a job.Next course of action...Regimental Association ? MoD ?,Archives? Suggestions and criticisms (Be gentle Please:))

    Thanks for looking


    Jim
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I think the whole file needs to be copied incase it gets closed again-thanks to this chaps possible efforts. I wonder if he is foreseeing an influx of enquiries like yours Jim from said file?

    As for the CWGC I see they are being as helpful with you as they have been with me in the past, sadly I don't bother anymore as I get the impression from them you are just another anorak interferring with the past, just my opinion.

    Andy
     
  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Caused upset, in what respect ? How odd to use that term. I'd think if we were a relative we'd like to know the possibility at least, but no one should assume either way I suppose. I know of others who visit graves of Unknown men, adopting them on an emotional level as representative of their relative's resting place. It's long been a difficulty for me that Unknowns are not listed as such on the Cemetery reports placed online by CWGC. I understand the problems with listing so many with no details, but this means that only those who visit and walk the rows can ever be aware of any extra data noted on the headstone, ie unit, date(s), rank.

    Jim,
    Is the implication here that they will seek to have this file closed again? In which case I'd like to know how they will suppress copies which may already have been made and not brought to their attention. Are these then to be handed in if just such a course of action is to be taken. I hope that this isn't an attempt to suppress, or even sanitise, in the name of sensitivity.

    I am sure that we have all read much more 'upsetting' material in books and first-hand accounts ... with persons being named, or identified through some other means. Some of the members have even experienced such upsetting situations!

    -
    My musings on the injury:

    It'd be difficult to say what might have happened as the trajectory of the bullet is unknown. Looking at the dental chart he has teeth missing from 'around the time of death' from front both lower and upper jaw the upper being more catastrophic on right side and suggestive perhaps of a right side exit, from the entry behind left ear. (I placed my hands on these areas to get an idea.)

    Perhaps one injury then is more likely, given that the cause of death was a head shot.

    Ref. execution: It's surely impossible to say one way or the other just what occurred.
     
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I think the whole file needs to be copied incase it gets closed again-thanks to this chaps possible efforts. I wonder if he is foreseeing an influx of enquiries like yours Jim from said file?

    As for the CWGC I see they are being as helpful with you as they have been with me in the past, sadly I don't bother anymore as I get the impression from them you are just another anorak interferring with the past, just my opinion.

    Andy

    I'd agree about the copying of such files.

    I've had correspondence with CWGC both as a relative and as an 'interested party'. The experience ref the former was excellent, the latter well ... most unsatisfactory. Jim, maybe you could contact Chris Harley for his thoughts.

    I can't think of a better place than this forum for getting such things sorted ... or at least put on record.
     
  14. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Thanks All, Andy Diane I got the impression that they were more concerned in the File being public than the significant help it could give to aid identification.I`m with Rich on this one the brief summary indicates a more thorough investigation..it has to to come up with a single name? Does`nt it? Can they have this file closed again? I may have done more wrong than right if that happens! Wills thanks for clarifying the uniform issue.Thanks to all.


    Jim
     
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Jim,
    How about getting the man's service records? He falls outside the 25 year rule so full disclosure to non-NOK... or is this a step too far what with the time factor. Just thought in this particular case it might be interesting to see exactly what could be filed there along with the usual stuff.
     
  16. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hi Diane,
    Thats a very good suggestion ,you are of course right about the time factor though eight months..plus? Well worth considering I wonder if the Regimental Office in Durham (Now the rifles) have any influence I usually have a chat with them every five weeks or so..perhaps its time for a visit?

    Thanks
    Jim
     
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  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It looks like the National Archives has released a lot of missing files recently if the files are in numerical order.

    This one is WO 361/738 I listed them all earlier this year on Excel and it finished at WO 361/668.

    Looks like Andrea will be doing an update in a bit.
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Jim,

    A bit of info that may be of use, it looks like the investigators were called 'Searcher Parties'.

    Andy

    Edit: Sorry-you already know that-I keep getting called away to pack stuff :(
     
  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Andy he said that in post 10 - quote of his email.

    Have found 6 files in Andrea's super updated WO 361 series spreadsheet. (Looking at their non-descriptive titles, how ever does anyone find anything relevant... oh yeah, by going and looking.)
     
  20. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    ...1488974 Pte George Evans The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry...

    The body uncovered is stated to be a British Soldier killed near Primosole Bridge in July 1943 the circumstances of his discovery put his death as first two weeks of July 1943 the body was interred at Catania under an `Unknown` headstone date of death 18th JULY 1943 outside of the two weeks initially implied ?

    The Dental records......My imagination started to run a bit wild here I`m afraid ..This soldiers teeth had been knocked out prior to death and a bullet to the left side of his head near his ear..execution? I know speculation the ricochet from the bullet may have deflected through his head and knocked out his teeth I appreciate that but a possibility none the less?


    Hello Jim,

    The Gateshead Gurkhas; Moses, shows G Evans date of death as 1 July 1943. I don't believe this can be right as 9DLI were at Port Said on that date i.e. before setting sail, and we have a note earlier in the thread that he was last seen alive on the 17 July 1943.

    As he was found in the area of Primosole Bridge it suggests that he died during the action there i.e. 14 to 17 July 1943. If, however, he died of such a wound - likely an instantaneous death - on the 18 July 1943 then I can only assume that he was, as you suggest, executed. The 9DLI were not in action on the 18 July; the German Paras' - opposite the 9DLI was the 1st Para Pioneer Battalion - had withdrawn during the previous day and the 168th and 69th Brigades were now in the line.

    I'll see what else I can find!

    Questions that may assist understanding the circumstances are: Was he buried alone, or were there others? If others, were they also neck shot? Was the location at or near Primosole Bridge or remote, or further towards the Catania Airfield/ Catania?

    Best,

    Steve.
     

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