Memorandum on steps taken to trace missing personnel



Memorandum on steps taken to trace missing personnel


Describes procedures including compiling lists, contacting the International Red Cross. Mentions work of Red Cross and St John organisations as well as service department. Continues with role of casualty branches of services and notification of next of kin. Warns against use of prisoner names by German radio for propaganda purposes.



Temporal Coverage




Two page printed document


IBCC Digital Archive


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Memorandum on the steps taken to trace missing personnel.
Lists of personnel missing as a result of the active operations are complied by the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry and sent to the Wounded, Missing and Relatives Department of the Joint British Red Cross and Order of St. John, 7, Belgrave Square, London, S.W.1, who at one institute such further enquiry as is possible.
In the first place the lists of names are forwarded by that Department to the International Red Cross Committee at Geneva. This Committee has access to special information, since, according to the International Convention of 1929 relative to the Treatment Prisoners of War, each belligerent power is bound to set up an official bureau to give information about prisoners of war. The bureau in Germany sends reports to the International Red Cross Committee at Geneva, which thus receives information from the enemy government and can make enquiries for names sent out by this country.
In the second place, the Red Cross and St. John have an organisation of selected searchers, accredited to the military and civil hospitals throughout this country. Enquiries are made by these searchers from wounded personnel of the missing men’s own units. When searchers’ reports are considered reliable, the information is sent by the Red Cross and St. John to the Service Departments, which at once inform the next of kin.
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Meanwhile all information obtainable from other sources, which might throw any light on the fate of missing individuals, is being collected by the Casualty Branch of the Service Department concerned.
Relatives may therefore rest assured that, without any application on their part, every endeavour is being made both abroad and at home to trace missing personnel. Immediately any reliable information is received, it is conveyed to the next of kin, who are advised to keep the appropriate Casualty Branch or Record Office informed as to any change of address.
If information is obtained that a missing individual is a prisoner of war, the next of kin receives, with the notification, a further leaflet giving full instructions as to the manner in which correspondence with him may be conducted (included the sending of parcels).
It should be borne in mind that the announcements of the names of prisoners of war by German wireless stations are made for the purpose of inducing people in this country to listen to German views. The lists are incomplete and often inaccurate and should not be relied upon. The B.B.C. sends full transcripts of these lists to all three Service Departments, which then inform the relatives of those who can be identified from the particulars given in the broadcast.

July, 1940.


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