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Thread: Post War Losses

  1. #1
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    Default Post War Losses

    My thread regarding personnel losses in 1945 got my grey matter working and made me think about how post war losses in Germany were dealt with.

    I am assuming that at some stage the Government decided that men should be repatriated rather than concentrated in one of the War Cemeteries, so I was wondering if anyone knew if there was a "cut-off date" or whether it just evolved .

    Having checked Reichswald and Rheinberg there are burials for deaths in August 1946 and July 1946 respectively, so it would appear that it was well after the end of hostilities in Europe.

    ...... so I just wondered if anyone has any thoughts

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Repatriation is a modern thing. If I remember rightly from the Falklands war on. So any casualties are buried in german cemeteries. Last CWGC 31/12/1947. Berlin Airlift casualties buried in Limmer Cem., Hanover, Ohlsdorf Mil. Cem., Hamburg & Berlin 1939-45 War Cem. (19/9/1948 - 16/7/1949)

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    Thanks for the feedback John

    Do you know if families were given the option of bringing their relatives back to the UK for burial during that period?

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    As stated, repatriation is a relatively modern thing.

    In the early days of the first war, there were repatriations but these were stopped because of the sheer volumes - bad for home morale!

    The principle then became that one was buried where one fell, although I understand that the Canadians (someone over that side of the pond - please confirm) usually remove their casualties from enemy territory, although clearly not the case with Bomber Command crews, which of course with a 'Collective Grave' is not possible anyway. I also understand that the US does not allow its personnel to remain in enemy territory.

    In the 1960s it was certainly the case that in the event of a death overseas, close members of the family would be flown out for the funeral in the overseas area and this would be at public expense and there would be the full military funeral if this was desired. At sometime - but I don't know when - remains would be repatriated but this then resulted in a private funeral. I understand that cremated remains could be returned also but this implies that the family did not travel for the funeral.

    There is a very good book by Stuart Hadaway which deals with the search for missing aircrew post-war but I can't find my copy to tell you the title!

    In the immediate post war period, I don't think the offer of repatriation would have been commonplace but I cannot find anything which actually forbade it.

    Colin Cummings

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    Hello

    In the immediate postwar years, the U.S. servicemen were removed from their initial places of burial, and temporarily buried in "concentration" cemeteries, usually after some forensic examinations, etc... Then, the U.S. authorities contacted the families and asked if they wanted repatriation to the U.S. of their loved ones, for burial in their community cemetery (or, for a few, in military cemeteries like Arlington), or permanent burial overseas. They then build large cemeteries (Cambridge in U.K., Colleville in Normandy, Neuville-en-Condroz in Belgium, just to name a few) for those who were to be buried overseas.

    The case of Canada is slightly different, as they built immediatly postwar "concentration" cemeteries as well, like the Calais Canadian War Cemetery, Bretteville-sur-Laize in Normandy, Adegem in Belgium, and from what I've seen, families were contacted about the move from the initial burials to these cemeteries. But I have some cases of Bomber Command crew being split, with some RCAF airmen transfered to Calais, and others from the same crew still buried locally in the village where they fell. Sometimes it's the R.A.F. flight engineer in a R.C.A.F. crew who was not transferred with his crewmates, but I have also seen a No. 427 Squadron R.A.F. man being brought to Calais in order not to split the crew ! So we have any cases we can find !!!

    In some cases, graves of R.A.F. airmen were moved, in the second half of the 40es, from the churchyard where they were buried during the war, either for ease of maintenance, or because the lack of proper care (the village was in charge of cleaning the graves). But I have cases in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area of similar cases, in villages not far away from each other, where a Blenheim crew was left in the village churchyard, and another Blenheim crew nearby was moved to Boulogne-sur-Mer ! So, here again, many variations...

    Joss

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    Only loosely related, but thought this might interest some.

    About 20 years ago, while I was living near Fort Erie, Ontario, a building contractor came across some old graves while digging basements. When US Army buttons were found, the US military sent an investigation team who identified the dead as victims of the War of 1812. Another, very well equipped, US military team dug up the whole site, and returned the remains to the US for formal burial.

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    Bill,
    And very right, and proper.
    I suspect that Repatriation may, possibly, have had something to do with the fact that if buried 'where fell' the subsequent grave may - to use CWGC terminology - impossible to maintain? This may have been due to the possible differing religious practices, or customs, likely to be found in current 'Enemy Territory'. The North African campaigns of WW2 may illustrate. There are War Cemeteries all over Cyrenaica. Despite the current local uncertainties the UK(etc), French, German cemeteries/memorials are - as far as I am aware - still kept in good order and are untouched. But at the end of WW2 the Italian graves were dug up by 'The Locals' and chucked into the Med. The politics of tomorrow are difficult enough to discern - let alone 50 years from now!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thanks for all the feedback to date on this subject .... I will have to see if I can find copies of letters sent to relatives 1945 - 1950 to see what offers were made to the families.

    I will certainly add the book "Missing Believed Killed" to my Christmas list (if I can wait that long).

    Regards (and thanks again for your interest in the subject)

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

  9. #9
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    Pete - you'll enjoy that book!! It doesn't give too much in the way of specifics, but it does give an absolutely priceless account of the work of the MRES teams in Europe post-WW2. An invaluable addition to any researcher's library, IMHO :-)

    L/O

    Greg
    "You can take the boy out of Wales,
    But you can't take Wales out of the boy!!"

    Greg Harrison
    100 Squadron and 100 Squadron Association Historian
    100 Squadron Researcher 1917 - present day
    1 Group Researcher 1940 - 1945

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    In the first war, there was a cutoff date set for Canadians who died to be commemorated among the fallen (1921), this was to recognize those who died of wounds or diseases contracted while in the trenches. One fellow I know of is buried in Calgary near the sanatorium he was sent to because of TB. I'm not sure if that happened in 1945, but the CWGC site might be helpful on that point. I know of one Canadian in an RAF crew who was separated from them because of his nationality. They were all originally buried in a local cemetery by French villagers as the Germans were too busy reacting to the invasion.
    David

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