WO361 - Missing Personnel Files - Database Discussion

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Drew5233, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Free Canadian war diaries are mentioned on this thread:

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54438-war-diaries-through-heritage-canadiana/?hl=%2Bcanadian+%2Bwar+%2Bdiaries

    Unit Missing Men files in the WO 361 Series are a gamble but can hold gold regarding the death of an individual soldier. There's a thread on the forum somewhere that identified through the units missing men file not only how a man died for a relative seeking information on him, but where he was killed and what Company he was in via eye witness accounts from the soldiers that were fighting with him at the time. For the life of me I can't find the thread now.


    [hr]

    edit dbf:
    n.b.
    part of this thread was moved from this link http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54959-ww2-commonwealth-army-war-diaries/page-2
    and then afterwards merged with another thread continuing on from the original discussion.
     
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  2. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Andy

    On one of my first postings on the forum,
    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/40740-help-required-regarding-soldier-killed-in-italy/

    you pointed me in the direction of the WO 361 Missing personnel files.

    Although when i got the file it didn't solve the mystery totally of why my relative didn't have a known grave, it confirmed he was
    in 'B' Coy, and along with the war diary i was able to identify (within about 100 yrds) of where he was likely KIA/MIA.

    In post 23 of the above thread there are some of the documents/testimonies that were found in the Missing Personnel File.

    I've read a fair few WO 361 files since and agree that some of the info in them can be absolute gold with regard to the death of an individual soldier or how they were taken POW. Also, although they can be quite macabre in places, they make compelling reading.
     
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  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Andy,

    WO361 was the door through which I found information about my grandfather and his last few weeks of freedom before becoming a POW in 1943. The WO361 file for the 13th King's is the basis on which my website is built. As you rightly say, these are always worth a gamble for researchers. I've found that even if the man in question is not mentioned in the files, with a wee bit of cross-referencing, especially dates, you can often find what was happeneing to the unit and possibly draw an informed conclusion on a casualties fate.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    So... who fancies doing a thread about WO 361 then? :D
     
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  5. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    I would consider doing one, as (not wanting to sound too morbid) they are probably my favourite WW2 documents.

    The only problem is that i am working away at the moment, and all my WO 361 files are on my computer at home.

    If i get time over the weekend (and no one else starts a thread) i will see what i can put together.
     
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  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Scott, glad you've picked up the baton, there's no mad rush ... looking forward to reading it.
    If started I'm sure others would add too.
    eg Cat A, B C. - http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54184-casualty-cat-c/
     
    daisy1942 likes this.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Scott, glad you've picked up the baton, there's no mad rush ... looking forward to reading it.
    If started I'm sure others would add too.
    eg Cat A, B C. - http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54184-casualty-cat-c/



    I'll send you some extra Missing Men files to help you from the BEF, a couple of sunken ships and some of the other campaigns to give you a good broad feel on them and if they changed as the war went on.
     
  8. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Scott, glad you've picked up the baton, there's no mad rush ... looking forward to reading it.
    If started I'm sure others would add too.
    eg Cat A, B C. - http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54184-casualty-cat-c/



    I'll send you some extra Missing Men files to help you from the BEF, a couple of sunken ships and some of the other campaigns to give you a good broad feel on them and if they changed as the war went on.


    Cheers Andy

    I've already got a few Missing at Sea files from the Salerno Landings, and nearly all of the other WO 361 files i've got are for North Africa and Italy, so a NWE or Far East one would be nice.

    Thanks Diane for the link.
    My initial plan was to document what you 'typically' get in the files, and then provide examples of the additional information available in them (which say you wouldn't normally get in your average War Diary)
    Also, I've not really looked into the mechanics or administration side of how the files were put together or how their format may have changed over time.
    Therefore, if anyone can point me in the direction of any additional information in this regard it would be appreciated.

    Hmmm. Why am i getting a funny feeling that i may regret sticking my hand up for this.
    Before i know it, i will probably be compiling excel sheets of men that are mentioned in various WO 361 files for reference ;)
     
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  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Bingo! :D
     
  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Phew!! :wink:
     
  11. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Phew!! :wink:


    Ha Ha. Think i've been totally blind sided by you lot.

    So............. in for a Penny then in for a Pound as they say.

    If people are happy to send me any WO 361 files they've got (or info they've extracted from them), then i will be happy to start trawling through them and sticking any names found in them, onto an database.

    I could also do with an agreed format of what info/fields are required, and how they should be organised (i.e. Campaign, regiment etc)

    Also, as my excel skills are just about 'passable' it would be nice if someone would knock up a template for me to use (once a format is agreed on).

    Hmmm. Why does 'foot' & 'shot' spring to mind.

    Cheers
     
  12. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Phew!! :wink:


    Ha Ha. Think i've been totally blind sided by you lot.

    So............. in for a Penny then in for a Pound as they say.

    If people are happy to send me any WO 361 files they've got (or info they've extracted from them), then i will be happy to start trawling through them and sticking any names found in them, onto an database.

    I could also do with an agreed format of what info/fields are required, and how they should be organised (i.e. Campaign, regiment etc)

    Also, as my excel skills are just about 'passable' it would be nice if someone would knock up a template for me to use (once a format is agreed on).

    Hmmm. Why does 'foot' & 'shot' spring to mind.

    Cheers


    If you're really up for it, I'm happy to help by copying WO 361 files for free and even creating/hosting/assisting with an online searchable database if needed.
    I'd suggest keeping the list reasonably manageable, Last name, First names or initials, rank, number, battalion, WO 361 reference.

    Sometimes the nominal rolls are almost good enough for OCRing with some thorough proof reading afterwards.

    Lee
     
  13. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Phew!! :wink:


    Ha Ha. Think i've been totally blind sided by you lot.

    So............. in for a Penny then in for a Pound as they say.

    If people are happy to send me any WO 361 files they've got (or info they've extracted from them), then i will be happy to start trawling through them and sticking any names found in them, onto an database.

    I could also do with an agreed format of what info/fields are required, and how they should be organised (i.e. Campaign, regiment etc)

    Also, as my excel skills are just about 'passable' it would be nice if someone would knock up a template for me to use (once a format is agreed on).

    Hmmm. Why does 'foot' & 'shot' spring to mind.

    Cheers


    If you're really up for it, I'm happy to help by copying WO 361 files for free and even creating/hosting/assisting with an online searchable database if needed.
    I'd suggest keeping the list reasonably manageable, Last name, First names or initials, rank, number, battalion, WO 361 reference.

    Sometimes the nominal rolls are almost good enough for OCRing with some thorough proof reading afterwards.

    Lee


    Hi Lee

    Basically, Yes I would be up for it. As previously mentioned WO 361 files are a favourite of mine.

    I am due to finish work in a mo, and will be off back to my digs where i've only got my phone for access (so will not be posting further today due to fat thumbs).

    Therefore, i suggest so as not to sidetrack Diane's excellent thread further (apologies Diane) that tomorrow we create a new (wo 361) thread where we can discuss the mechanics of creating the database along with suggestions regarding required info/ format/ hosting etc.

    Cheers
     
  14. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Scott, glad you've picked up the baton, there's no mad rush ... looking forward to reading it.
    If started I'm sure others would add too.
    eg Cat A, B C. - http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/54184-casualty-cat-c/



    I'll send you some extra Missing Men files to help you from the BEF, a couple of sunken ships and some of the other campaigns to give you a good broad feel on them and if they changed as the war went on.


    Cheers Andy

    I've already got a few Missing at Sea files from the Salerno Landings, and nearly all of the other WO 361 files i've got are for North Africa and Italy, so a NWE or Far East one would be nice.

    Thanks Diane for the link.
    My initial plan was to document what you 'typically' get in the files, and then provide examples of the additional information available in them (which say you wouldn't normally get in your average War Diary)
    Also, I've not really looked into the mechanics or administration side of how the files were put together or how their format may have changed over time.
    Therefore, if anyone can point me in the direction of any additional information in this regard it would be appreciated.

    Hmmm. Why am i getting a funny feeling that i may regret sticking my hand up for this.
    Before i know it, i will probably be compiling excel sheets of men that are mentioned in various WO 361 files for reference ;)

    Scott,

    I think that a database might be a large undertaking. You're original plan outlined above makes more sense in this first instance.
    Start small and build up slowly. I will of course help out with some WO361's from the Burma campaign.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Whilst some of the missing men files can be thin which normally means there is little info in them, some of them I have copied have over 500 pages with names after names in so I do think it would end up being a task you'd hand down to your children and your children's children to complete.
     
  16. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    There are going to be a huge number of names in the Army Casualty files. Most of the men listed are either going to be dead or POWs.

    British Army deaths in the Second World War was around 210,000.

    British Army POWs? Can't find a breakdown of figures for the Army at the moment but probably 50,000+.

    So the missing men files probably contain something like 300,000 names in total.

    However, I have a plan that would result in minimal typing of names.
     
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  17. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    You're name isn't Baldrick is it? :)
     
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  18. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    *

    Okay, let's start on Clanky's epitaph now. I thought:

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    You mean 'He gave them his missing men files'
     
  20. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    It's a cunning plan, a plan as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
     

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