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Thread: Missing Aircrew

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    Default Missing Aircrew

    Hi everyone,

    Please excuse me if the following question has been asked before and if it has accept my sincere apologies for going over the same subject, but here goes.

    When an aircraft was lost during operations or training or by any means come to that matter, how long was the time-scale for the crew to be posted missing presumed killed/PoW or lost without trace?

    I know the bases of operational aircraft would realise that aircraft were lost or could be late back at base by the return of others. With reports from other crew members of seeing other machines in trouble whilst either going to or coming from the target would also alert the bases of a possible loss to a squadron.

    So therefore, how is the information received concerning this.

    Thanks for you understanding in this matter.

    Kindest Regards.

    Steve.

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    Taff.
    I have no idea of the formal steps to be taken, but any aircraft which did not arrive back at its home station was always of intense interest to all personnel at that station, and when the calculated time of fuel exhaustion had passed and no reports had come in from other stations that it had landed away from its usual base it would be safe to say that the aircraft was deemed to be "missing" pending further investigations. Its last reported position (if any) would then be used as a possible basis for instigating a search if this was deemed to be useful, and if such a search yielded no useful results, then the crew members of the aircraft would be considered "missing on operations" (if they were on operations, otherwise "missing in an aircraft on an overseas flight" or some such self-explanatory phrase). Then it was simply a matter of waiting for any confirmation from the enemy ("through neutral intermediaries") that the missing members had become POWs or had been found dead ow injured in the wreck, or had been washed up on the shore somewhere. If nothing at all was learned within a certain period (it may have been 6 months or a year or more) the crew members would be reclassified as "missing, presumed dead on air operations" or other suitable wording, and only after the war would further searches by made to attempt to find additional information as to their fate. Obviously there were formal procedures and casualty committees which reviewed all the available evidence at regular intervals, but I do not have access to the appropriate Air Ministry files here in New Zealand! However most if not all of this subject this has no doubt been included in a recently published book which just been mentioned on this forum in the last couple of weeks.
    David D
    David D

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    Taff
    My mother & grandfather in Sydney, Australia, received telegrammes dated 20th October 1944 that my RAAF father was missing on operations in Italy.His Liberator had failed to return from a supply drop mission on 12th October '44

    The official letter ,presumed dead, did not come until Sept 1945 & a letter about his kit arriving in Australia dated April 1946.There is an Air Ministry, London letter dated June 1947 stating that efforts to trace the crew had been of no avail & they were presumed dead .

    In May 1949 there was a letter informing them that a memorial was being planned "for those of no known grave" by the Imperial War Graves Commission [memorial later built in Malta]

    From my father's service records National Archives of Australia

    Millions of these letters must have been sent to families of MIA & KIA servicemen all over the world & it was a very long process .

    Anne

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    Hi Anne and David,

    Thanks for the replies to my query and sorry for the late response to you both. Maybe, like you said perhaps neutral organisations like the Red Cross were informed of the relevant loss of aircrew and reports with names sent to London or to establishments within neutral countries itself.

    I am only surmising this as I am not certain at all of the procedure of informing waring Governments of casualties concerning their armed forces. But interesting to find out how it worked during WW2.

    Cheers and kindest regard. Have a great Christmas and New Year, take care.

    Steve.

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    Steve,

    There is an excellent book which was published earlier this year called 'Missing Believed Killed' The Royal Air Force and the Search for Missing Aircrew 1939-1952 written by Stuart Hadaway.

    Two parts of the book relate specifically to your questions; Chapter 3 The Air Ministry Regrets and also Appendix C History of P4 (Cas).

    You could try your local library for a copy or get hold of a copy for yourself (treat yourself for Christmas!!), it's well worth it. Published by Pen & Sword.

    Regards
    Linzee

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    Steve,

    I have a complete set of the correspondence relating to my uncle's death. Whether what happened in this case was normal I could not say (I would be interested to see the book cited above), however, the sequence of events was as follows:

    1. Stirling OJ-A of 149 squadron (out of RAF Methwold) went down with all crew in Brest Harbour at around midnight of 6/7 August, 1944.

    2. By approximately 3am, the other Stirlings on the mission had returned safely but were diverted to RAF Chivenor due to fog. OJ-A was reported at the debriefing as having gone down in flames.

    3. A priority telegram was despatched and received by the family first thing on Sunday morning, 7th August. I am not sure what time it was despatched, but I know when it arrived my grandparents were still in bed, and my father, who was then aged 12, was the only member of the household who was up, and thus answered the door.

    4. A letter was sent from Methwold with further information later on Sunday 7th.

    In other words, the news reached my grandparents within hours, which I think is rather impressive really, particularly as my father says it was a bank holiday weekend.

    5. Letter about missing airman's effects was despatched from Methwold two days later on 9th August.

    6. Letter from Air Ministry Casualty Branch sent 15 August, confirming missing status (8 days after plane lost).

    7. Letter sent from RAF benevolent fund offering assistance.

    8. Second letter sent from Methwold confirming no further news 23rd August.

    Various other correspondence was sent, before a final letter from the Casualty Branch on 5th May 1945 advised the next of kin that it was proposed to presume my uncle's death.



    If you are interested in any further information, please send me an email.

    Natalie
    Last edited by Natalie; 21st December 2008 at 09:15.

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    Hi Natalie and Linzee,

    Again thanks for your information concerning this subject and as I said on my other reply to an earlier thread, apologies for the late reply but had family over for xmas, so it was kind of hectic in the house, but getting back to normality now, if there is such a thing.

    Kindest regards.

    Steve.

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    My father was shot down 23 September 1943. My mother was notified the following day.

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