Protocol - Removal of ID and dog-tags from military personnel

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by Philip W, May 26, 2023.

  1. Philip W

    Philip W Member

    What was the protocol for removing ID and 'dog tags' from a junior British naval rating in WW2. This person was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in France in 1940 and was taken to a local hospital. The Germans were about to occupy the town and his colleagues awaiting immediate evacuation.

    1) Were his colleagues allowed to remove his ID/tags if he was alive but not expected to survive his injuries?

    2) Or did protocol require that his ID/tags remain on his person until he was pronounced dead?

    3) If ID was removed, what were the requirements for reporting same/subsequent disposal?

    Many thanks,

    Lindele likes this.
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The basic principle was that one disc of the pair would stay with the body, the other acting as a physical token for reporting the death. In the circumstances, taking the latter was a reasonable course of action. The Germans would still have been able to ID him from the other disc.
  3. Philip W

    Philip W Member

    Thanks for this. Were they always issued in identical pairs? And was there a protocol for reporting a death. eg. report and tags to be given to your commanding officer, immediate superior, etc.?

  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I have to state the obvious: just because there was a procedure doesn't mean that it was always followed. As stated in the first link: Responsibility for burial lay with those who 'held the ground'.

    Locals and/or German personnel for example may not have known what to do, or didn't care to do things correctly.

    Is there a specific reason why you're asking?
    Last edited: May 26, 2023
  5. Philip W

    Philip W Member

    I am researching the case of an RN rating killed in a motorcycle accident (or who died in hospital as a result of his injuries) in France in 1940. His ID was removed by British servicemen at the time and when he was buried two days later, there was no record as to the body's identity - except for a 'matricule' with a number 123.107 The death certificate from the hospital detailed his appearance, height, RN coat size and clothing but had no name. I cannot find any RN service numbers in the format 123.107 and am trying to understand why both his dog tag(s) were absent and his ID never returned to Naval HQ for recording. As a result he was declared missing presumed killed and then eventually missing with no known grave. In fact he had been buried in a cemetery as an 'unknown sailor'.

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