Memorandum on the steps taken to trace missing personnel



Memorandum on the steps taken to trace missing personnel


The memorandum outlines procedures for tracing personnel resulted missing as consequence of active operations. Describes the role of the International Red Cross Committee in Geneva, St. John’s Ambulance and the Casualty branch of Record office. Stresses the importance of not trusting enemy broadcasts and emphasises the role of national media.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





Two printed sheets


IBCC Digital Archive


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Memorandum on the steps. taken to trace missing personnel.
Lists of personnel missing as a result of active operations are compiled 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 once 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 Inter national Convention of 1929 relative to the Treatment of 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 SL 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 (including 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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[underlined]CONFIDENTIAL NOTICE[/underlined]

The names of all who lose their lives or are wounded or reported missing while serving with the Royal Air Force will appear in the official casualty lists published from time to
time in the Press.
Any publication of the date, place or circumstances of a casualty, and particularly any reference to the unit concerned. might give valuable information to the enemy, and for this reason. only the name, rank and service number are included in the official lists.
Relatives are particularly requested, in the national interest, to ensure that any notices published privately do not disclose the date, place or circumstances of the casualty, or the unit.

The Press have been asked to co-operate in ensuring that no information of value to the enemy is published.


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