Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Information from Clive Wood, 2008
Information to Relatives1940

Advice to Relatives of Missing or Sick Men

Advice to the Relative of a Man who is Missing

In view of the official notification that your relative is missing, you will naturally wish to; hear what is being done to trace him.

The Service Departments make every endeavour to discover the fate of missing men, and draw upon all likely sources of information about them.

A man who is missing after an engagement may possibly be a prisoner of war. Continuous efforts-are made to speed up the machinery whereby the names and camp addresses of prisoners of war can reach this country. The official means is by lists of names prepared by the enemy Government. These lists take some time to compile, especially if there is a long journey from the place of capture to a prisoners of war camp. Consequently "capture cards" filled in by the prisoners themselves soon after capture and sent home to their relatives are often the first news received in this country that a man is a prisoner of war. That is why you are asked in the accompanying letter to forward at once any card or letter you may receive, if it is the first news you have had.

Even if no news is received that a missing man is a prisoner of war, endeavours to trace him do not cease. Enquiries are pursued not only among those who were serving with him, but also through diplomatic channels and the International Red Cross Committee at Geneva.

The moment reliable news is obtained from any of these sources it is sent to the Service Department concerned. They will pass the news on to you at once, if they are satisfied that it is reliable. It would be cruel to raise false hopes, such as may well be raised if you listen to one other possible channel of news, namely, the enemy's broadcasts. These are listened to by official listeners, working continuously night and day. The few names of prisoners; given by enemy announcers are carefully checked. They are often misleading, and this is not surprising, for the object of the inclusion of prisoners' names in these broadcasts is not to help the relatives of prisoners, but to induce British listeners to hear some tale which otherwise they could not be made to hear. The only advantage of listening to these broadcasts is an advantage to the enemy.

The official listeners can never miss any name included in an enemy broadcast. They pass every name on to the Service Department concerned. There every name is checked, and in every case where a name can be verified, the news is sent direct to the relatives.

There is, therefore, a complete official service designed to secure for you and to tell you all discoverable news about your relative. This official service is also a very human service, which well understands the anxiety of relatives and will spare no effort to relieve it.

Visits of Relatives to Sick and Wounded  Soldiers in France

"With reference to the telegram dispatched to you to­day, informing you that permission to visit a soldier who was dangerously ill could not be granted, you are informed that it is regretted that, owing to the British and French military requirements, it has been necessary, for some time, to limit strictly the visits to France of relatives of the sick and wounded.

In cases, therefore, where relatives are notified that a soldier is in a dangerous condition through wounds or sickness, hut that permission to visit him cannot be granted, it must be understood that the case is one in which it has been decided that permission cannot at present be granted. Should it subsequently become possible to issue a permit, the person or persons to whom permission is given will be at once informed.

The Army Council wish the relatives of all ranks to understand that the limitation is one of the necessities of the military situation, and feel sure that they will readily accept it on this understanding.

In cases where permission to visit is given, the regulations have been simplified, and are as follows:—

1.       In cases where a soldier is in a dangerous condition through wounds or sickness, and there is no military objection to a visit being paid to him, a telegram (or letter preceded by telegram) granting permission will be sent by the Military Record Office to the relative who may visit him.

2.       No passport or permit will be required, but the relative, if desiring to visit, must carefully preserve the telegram or letter granting permission, observe all the instructions given in it, and produce it before the Embarkation Commandant at the port named.

3.       Two visitors will be allowed to visit the patient, if the following conditions are satisfied:—

(i) If the two visitors are the wife and the father of the soldier, his wife and his mother, or his father and his mother.

(ii) If one visitor is his wife, his father or his mother, and she (or he) cannot travel without assistance.

In all other cases only one visitor will be allowed.

4.       Free passages and accommodation will be given to all relatives permitted to visit soldiers, if they cannot afford to pay their own expenses. The arrangements for the journey will be notified to the relatives by the Record Office.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the War index
Click here to e-mail us