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Thread: Air Ministry Casualty Branch

  1. #1
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    Default Air Ministry Casualty Branch

    I was just wondering if anyone has any details about the kinds of reports / documents / radio transmissions that the Air Ministry Casualty Branch received to enable it to monitor the fate of missing aircrew throughout the war and what documents were then released to squadrons / newspapers etc.

    I have seen examples of letters sent to families but I have no real details about what information was transmitted by the German Authorities, what documents were sent by the International Red Cross, how POW's provided information about other crew members etc.

    Any thoughts?

    Regards

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteT; 5th May 2016 at 17:46.
    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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    Dear Pete
    I am guessing that the answer you are looking for is currently held in the closed archive of the RAF AHB, but hopefully when the Casualty Packs are released to the NA at Kew you may find the answer there.

    The crew I have been researching had the following trail:
    Telegrams sent to families informing them that they were Missing.
    Followed up by letters of comfort by the Squadron C/O.

    Some of the crew were rescued from the North Sea by the Germans and there was a broadcast by Lord Haw Haw giving the names of survivors.
    This broadcast was mentioned in letters to families from the RAF as being Radio Friesland. I have been unable to find any record of this radio station in Holland and no archive over there is aware of it either.
    I do not know who was recording these broadcasts in the UK. There is a file in the reading room at the Imperial War Museum called Daily Digests which records the numbers of casualties, killed, missing and POW that are mentioned on German Broadcasts, but no names or service details are listed in these files.

    The POWs themselves wrote directly to their families informing them of their capture, but before that they also sent the IRC in Geneva a Kriegy post card informing them who they were and asking them to contact their families.

    The families received telegrams from the RAF informing them that they were mentioned on the radio broadcast. These were followed by letters from the Squadron.

    Sadly in this case one family was informed that their loved one was a survivor when he had died. How this error had occurred I do not know. The unit that rescued the survivors only mentioned the two survivors in their War Diary. They were interviewed by the Gestapo when they were captured but I have been unable to find these records. The IRC at Geneva informed me that this misinformation was sent to them by the Germans, but they were unable to say who the informant was.

    The POWs were later written to by the Red Cross in London, asking them for details about those who died. The POWs also had the addresses of the deceased families in their POW diaries so I presume they were also later in direct contact with them. Certainly there were post war visits, presumably to explain the circumstances of death, face to face.

    I hope that this answers some of your questions, but I am still hoping for answers when the Casualty Packs are released.
    Happy Hunting
    James

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    Thanks James

    Your response contains some interesting points which I will investigate further to see if I can build up a picture of the process.

    I am still hoping to understand how and when the Bomber Command Loss Cards were updated with the known information. I am assuming that these were maintained by the Casualty Branch (but I am not sure if that assumption is correct). Why the person with the worst handwriting was selected to update them I do not know!

    I will contact the Red Cross to see if they can provide any information on the procedures; are there any examples of the "Kriegy Post Cards"?

    Can anyone add anything on the German broadcasts; were they daily or irregular?

    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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    Dear Pete
    Several years ago I wrote to IRC in Geneva and they sent me a photocopy of my great uncle's Kriegy post card. They also sent me an 'Attestation' wich listed all movements and contacts regarding two POWs.
    Best wishes
    James

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    Dear Pete
    Regarding the Bomber Command Loss Card, you may get an answer if you contact either DORIS at Hendon or the RAF AHB. Some of these are VERY basic, while others go into much more detail. As the war progressed the form also changed. If a crew was lost without trace I suppose there was much less that they could write on it.

    My sources were from UK, Swiss, German and Dutch record offices as well as documentation such as letters and telegrams from three families.
    Best wishes
    James

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    Thanks again James

    I will keep digging on this one to see what I can turn up.

    I am assuming that it was the Casualty Branch that produced the regular casualty listing used by the newspapers / flight magazine etc. I am sure that these original lists are long gone but I have noticed that a few of the original newspaper listings have popped up on another forum. I am not sure if there is a complete set anywhere (thereby enabling me to establish when authorities knew the fate of a particular airman [as it is not always recorded in the ORB]).

    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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