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

Thread: Identification

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    56
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Identification

    Can some one enlighten me as to how aircrew were identified when killed in action. I am not aware of any dogtags, but did they carry any documents to aid identification.

    My mother lost her fiance on a raid to Cologne in 1943 and in the correspondence are letters from the Red Cross which identify the grave and even have a photo in a cemetery in Belgium.

    Wimpy
    An American airman, was told at Briefing to ‘Go in at 30,000 feet and keep out of the flak.”
    “If I go in a 20,000 feet, what will happen?’ asked the airman.
    “You’ll probably be mentioned in despatches”, answered the officer.
    “If I go in at 10,000 feet ?“ he asked.
    “In that case you will probably get the Congress Medal”, he was told.
    "And if I go in at 5,000 feet?’ he inquired excitedly.
    “Don’t be a fool, man”, replied his superior, “you’ll go and bump into the R.A.F. at that height.”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Posts
    3,514
    Thanks
    20
    Thanked 14 Times in 13 Posts

    Default

    Hi Wimpy,

    yes sometimes when there were not found dog tags some airmen were identified by some personal belongings like personal gun, personal diary, name in the boot, etc.

    There were also some misunderstandings when an airman without dog tag was found in labelled jacket which was borrowed from his colleague, etc.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Dublin
    Posts
    4,459
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 25 Times in 24 Posts

    Default

    Not a quick answer but here is a thread recommending a book on this subject.

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3606

    Dennis
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    56
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    So did RAF aircrew have dog tags?
    An American airman, was told at Briefing to ‘Go in at 30,000 feet and keep out of the flak.”
    “If I go in a 20,000 feet, what will happen?’ asked the airman.
    “You’ll probably be mentioned in despatches”, answered the officer.
    “If I go in at 10,000 feet ?“ he asked.
    “In that case you will probably get the Congress Medal”, he was told.
    "And if I go in at 5,000 feet?’ he inquired excitedly.
    “Don’t be a fool, man”, replied his superior, “you’ll go and bump into the R.A.F. at that height.”

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    317
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Wimpy,

    They did. Check out http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1516 for information about RAF ID disks. Next to that they had an ID card. This was a paper affair that would be destroyed by fire or become unreadible after submersion in water. The bakelite ID disks were fragile too, unlike the US metal dog tags. Some aviators had custom made metal disks or bracelets. These means of identification may not always have been carried on operations. When these means, or other personal effects that would help to identify a casualty, were not found, then the various services, see below, used forensic techniques to try and identify remains. Mind you that the decisive DNA technology was not available at the time. Neither were computers, that would have greatly helped these processes. One can only marvel about what has in fact been achieved, with the means available at the time.

    About various services engaged in identifying the casualties:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4777

    Regards,

    Rob

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire UK
    Posts
    673
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Wimpy
    An RAF x 31 SAAF airman, whose Liberator crashed in the Italian Alps was identified by a letter from home [England] which was in his wallet.Cross referencing led the identification of this man & therefore the rest of the crew
    From "Missing ,Believed Killed" by Stuart Hadaway & my own information

    Other identifications were by a man's ring, named clothing , photos in a wallt,found on a body .It must have been a long process. Sometimes these items were found by locals & kept from the enemy, to be kept safe for relatives.

    I presume most airmen wore dogtags but have been told by some it was tempting fate to do !! Sometimes crew were identified by their position in a crashed plane if it was intact in parts but again crew may have switched positions or borrowed clothing [Pavel] causing identification problems.Often crew couldn't be identified if the plane burnt on crashing & they were buried in a communal grave but the plane parts may have been identified.

    Stuart Hadaway gives details of the endeavours to identify the hurriedly dug, poorly marked graves & crashed aircraft of many thousands of crashed WW2 airmen.The MRES .Missing Research & Enquiry service was set up.There are still thousands of missing WW2 airmen & some service women with no known grave or identification.

    Anne

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Orleans, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    377
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Identity Discs

    Wimpy,

    I stand to be corrected but I beleive that eventualy all Commonwealth aircrew were issued a pair of Identity Discs to be worn when on operations.

    Many airmen contravened the order to wear Identity Discs and did not wear them, believing that wearing them implied that their remains would be "in need of identification" at some point and by not wearing them they would increase their chances of survival. An irrational thought, as viewed by an armchair-airman from half a century plus, but it did happen.

    BTW- If you are intending to research the subject further the term "dog-tag" is (mostly) American.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    281
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Identification

    Hello,

    Could you provide the name of the airman, I do look at a bomber who was shot down on the 4 july 43 coming back from Cologne,

    Best regards

    René

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Peterborough UK
    Posts
    381
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Sometimes chance plays a big part in identification of lost aircrew. Some years ago I attended the funeral of an airman whose remains were found on an archeological dig on a wartime crash site. This man was positively identified by his ID discs which led to the positive identification of another crew member whose body was recovered at the time of the crash but could not be identified and was therefore buried as "unknown". Since the rest of the crew, apart from these two, were identified at the time of the crash, the identity of the unknown crew member was thereby established.
    On another dig, a body was recovered from the wreck and was identified by a crucifix found with the remains. He was the only Catholic in the crew.
    Bill
    Last edited by BillG; 16th April 2009 at 22:48.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire UK
    Posts
    673
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    I was told by an ex 31 SAAF x RAF airman that it was felt that wearing their identity discs on a mission did "tempt fate" & some did not wear them .Also there was the superstition that crew had to climb into the aircraft in correct order or all fly together .

    My RAAF father apparently polished his shoes, after a mission, before visiting the on base pub with fellow crew .Presumably the brushing released tension -or was a compulsion ?

    Very understandable . Flying off in a rickety bomber night after night & seeing or hearing of mates killed on missions must have made a tremendous impact on airmens' nerves.

    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 17th April 2009 at 08:52.

Posting Permissions

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