Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: Some collective thinking required

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1,764
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts

    Default Some collective thinking required

    One of my current research projects on behalf of the relatives of No. 35 Squadron personnel has raised a bit of a conundrum, so I thought I would try to get some collective forum thinking.

    The family papers contain a telegram (dated February 1942) addressed to the family, which was sent from Egypt, allegedly from their son who was a pilot who was reported missing (and subsequently presumed dead) over Europe in December 1941. His name appears as the "signatory" on the telegram which states that he is safe and well.

    This caused considerable problems when the Air Ministry wanted to initiate the "presumed dead for official purpose" process, as the family believed that he was alive based on the telegram. However, no other correspondence was ever received, so it raises the question .... who sent the telegram and why?

    It is unlikely that he survived the crash (as the aircraft came down in the North Sea [Halifax L9600 - see separate thread]) which suggests that it was sent from someone else .... but why send a "hoax" telegram? What benefit would be gained from it? How would the sender have the correct family names and addresses?.

    I have discounted the conspiracy theory that he may have survived the crash, gone to Egypt and faked his own death as he was recently married and had a child on the way, and, if you were faking your own death, why would you send a telegram to your family to say you were safe and well.

    So a real conundrum (which will probably never be solved), but I thought I would see if anyone had come across any similar stories or had any other thoughts on the matter.

    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]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,661
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 17 Times in 17 Posts

    Default

    Pete, Hi,

    Was this ‘telegram’ a standard GPO (as was in them days) telegram? I.e. was it (roughly) A5 size and was the script printed on a thin strip of sticky tape which was then stuck on the form. The form was then folded, put in the yellow GPO envelope and delivered to the recipient by a Telegram Boy on his bicycle with a loud bell! (all this was standard procedure in the days before computers and iphones. Indeed, almost all domestic housing did NOT have a telephone in WW2 – you used public call boxes).

    A telegram - as such - could NOT (I am fairly sure) have been sent from Egypt. A ‘cable’ could, possibly, have been sent via commercial links – but whether these were still operating from the Med at that time I know not. Neither do I know how cables might have been delivered to domestic addresses - probably by the same Telegram Boys. The most likely way - I would suggest – that the information referred to arrived at the address in UK is for it to have been sent, firstly, as a military ‘signal’ over military communications links to UK (the RAF Message Form was, I think, the F(Sigs)28 – the experts will correct me). In the UK it would have been transcribed on to the GPO telegram system (provided there were no Int/Sy problems) and delivered by the Telegram Boys. (Younger Forumites might like to know that the appearance of a Telegram Boy in your street in WW2 usually meant that some family was being informed of a casualty!!).

    I doubt if ‘we’ can solve the problem. But if ‘we’ can ‘see’ the ‘telegram’ (or have a detailed description of it) then I think that it is possible that ‘we’ may be able to exclude certain possibilities. And (provided the sun is over one’s left shoulder, and with a fair wind) ‘we’ may be able to discern things not normally known to everyone from the script, wording, format, etc, of the telegram. Even if it means finding a WW2 GPO telegram expert. Bound to be one somewhere on the net. Just need to find him/her!!

    HTH

    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    592
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Have you searched for casualties with almost similar name detail, as mentioned the process for telegram delivery was far from direct, it is more than possible.

    Has the telegrame got the full service numbering you would expect to see.

    colin.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1,764
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts

    Default

    Thanks all for your thoughts; I will take a copy of it when I receive it later and post it as an image (SEE UPDATE BELOW).

    I understand the document is headed "Cable and Wireless Ltd via Imperial" but I am beginning to think that (a) the suggestion that it came from Egypt is incorrect (b) the date of 16th February 1942 on it may be a receipt in Birmingham date, not the date that it was sent.

    I understand that it also has a "passed by censor" stamp on it, which picking up on some of Peter's points, may imply there was some delay between the date it was sent and the date it was received. Would a 2 month gap between send and receive be normal? (Assuming he sent it before he died in early December)

    Regards

    Pete

    UPDATE: IMAGES NOW IN GALLERY (Telegram 1 and Telegram 2) but I haven't managed to link to this thread. I will try again later
    Last edited by PeteT; 27th September 2014 at 17:28.
    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]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Delaware, USA
    Posts
    949
    Thanks
    198
    Thanked 22 Times in 15 Posts

    Default

    Let me help with the image links


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,661
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 17 Times in 17 Posts

    Default

    It was clearly a ‘cable’ or ‘cablegram’. It went through “Great Charles Street” which was, I think, a UK Foreign Office location. The words ‘SANSORIGINE’, and “ET AVUDU 11” seem to me to have a distinctly French sound to them. The message header/router(?) “ATB BA VE” can be deciphered by somebody who knows – but not me!! “BHM” is clearly a diminution of Birmingham – but who’s diminution, and in what time period? Somebody had, very probably, ‘wired’ some money from one bank (in UK?) to a bank at the receiving end (?). I would have thought that this was a difficult enough procedure in peace-time, let alone in war-time? Might indicate some high-level involvement? I presume that the info that the cablegram was despatched from ‘Cairo’(?) is contained in the slightly indistinct handwritten script in the box to the right of the ‘SANSORIGINE’ box?. This can only have been inserted either at Great Charles Street or by the Telegraph Office at GPO Birmingham. This message can, undoubtedly, reveal more info – but the deciphering thereof is beyond my pay-grade. Need experts!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bristol, England
    Posts
    1,319
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts

    Default

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=1211,3180927

    I wonder if this cable has been misdirected to Birmingham, England when it should have gone to Birmingham Alabama. From the press cutting it is clear that 'sansorigine' was used in communications from US personnel overseas to disguise their origins.

    There is a district of 'Haughton' in Birmingham, AL but I acknowledge that it would be a huge coincidence for a Mrs Buckley to reside in both locations, but stranger things have happened!

    DaveW

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,661
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 17 Times in 17 Posts

    Default

    KING Charles Street, London, is opposite the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and was – in my time – part of the FO comms network (spooks, hooligans, unexplained agents, etc, etc, etc!!!!). Thus my assumption (dangerous in this game!!) that the cable had arrived in London!
    GREAT Charles Street is in Birmingham, UK. Closer examination of the stamp reveals ‘GREAT’ and ‘BIRMINGHAM’. So this cablegram arrived from wherever direct to the GPO in Birmingham, UK, and was – presumably(?) – delivered from thence to the recipient by those Telegram Boys (on bicycle + loud bell)? The GPO Birmingham, UK, must have had a Censor (thus the clearance stamp)? We might, just, have found the haystack. Finding the needle will require search abilities of the highest order?!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    East Sussex
    Posts
    528
    Thanks
    9
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Dear All
    I would recommend asking the people at
    http://www.connected-earth.com/Partn...ives/index.htm
    I have found them very helpful in the past.
    Best wishes
    James

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    180
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Looks like the stamp says “Lombard House Great Charles St Birmingham 3”


    A bit of googling about cables, telegrams, ww2, etc brings up a few sites suggesting submarine cables were regularly cut by both Axis and Allies. Which begs the question, once you’ve given them your message and paid your money what did they do with your telegram/cable if the cable was severed?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •