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WW1 POW repatriation process

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

Bryan

Bryan Report 13 May 2014 21:58

Greetings from Nova Scotia.

I suspect that an answer to my question may be based more on family lore and anecdotal evidence but, regardless, such information will be most welcome.

The person I am interested in was a POW from 1915 to the cessation of hostilities.

I am curious about is the kind of time it took for a POW to find his way home and the nature of the 'paperwork' that recorded the event.

What I know from the official record is:
10 May 1915 Prisoner of War
25 November 1918 repatriated
31 January 1919 in Dublin for demobilization

How precise were records and dates?

In the scramble at the end of the war, I can imagine that POWs may have 'drifted' home over a period of time and that 25 November 1918 may have been a date that, to some extent, was arbitrary. That is, rather than the date that he was released from prison, 25 November was the date when, after arriving home at an earlier date, the military caught up with the paperwork.

Does anybody have knowledge of the state of record keeping and/or experience of hearing how and when a relative made it home?

Thanks

Bryan



mgnv

mgnv Report 14 May 2014 02:13

Author: Nicholson, G.W.L
Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Candian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919
http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/his/docs/CEF_e.pdf

The final chapter discusses the demob process in some detail. It could take a year to get back - a significant factor in the dozen riots that occurred in Canadian camps in the UK - the most serious (Kinmel Park) lead to 5 deaths.

I don't know if you have a copy of his service file - if not see:
http://www.genesreunited.co.uk/boards/board/genealogy_chat/thread/1337438

If you do, then his unit's war diary can be of interest:
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/020152_e.html

You might also check out:
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-110.02-e.php?&q2=36&interval=50&sk=0

Bryan

Bryan Report 14 May 2014 12:26

Many thanks for your ideas MGNV.

Saying hello from Nova Scotia may have caused confusion. The soldier that I am interested in was British and a member of the Royal Irish Regiment, so repatriation was back to England.

I did secure a copy of his Service Record and have purchased several books on the RIR which helped fill in details such as the probable area in which he was taken as a POW.

It's the specificity and accuracy of the paper record that interests me as there is a very real question of whether he could have made it home to sire one of his children. If he wasn't released and/or made it home before Nov 25 1918, then the March 4 1919 birth credited to him would not have been possible.

So the nature of the release date is critical.

I have a Red Cross photo taken as a POW at Westhausen. But nowhere can I find a record of a Westhasen camp. It may have been very small. Had it been one of the major camps, I might have found a date for when the camp was overrun by the Allies.

It's an interesting, if frustrating, mystery.

Bryan

mgnv

mgnv Report 15 May 2014 10:43

Bryan - as you correctly inferred, I was mislead by your greetings from the other coast.

Really, I can't see him getting home by early June 1918, 5 m before the armistice. No German territory was occupied on the western front apart from a narrow strip within 50km of the Swiss border. This was part of Alsace. Along with Lorraine, the two provinces were annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and the French were mad keen to regain their two lost provinces, so they advanced there as soon as war broke out, but were almost completely driven back by the Germans after a couple of weeks. There is essentially only one invasion route thru the Vosges Mts and that is 150km along the Rhine gorge to Strasbourg, but that wasn't viable after the French failed in their attempt to capture the gateway town of Mulhouse. Westhausen is 170 km E of Strasbourg, so abt 250km from the front line which hardly changed between Nancy & the Swiss border after the 1st month of the war. Anyways, I doubt any WW1 POW camps were really overrun.

For comparison, my grandad's WW1 service record shows:
*Despatched to UK* 29/1/19 (the *ed bit is from a rubber stamp)
and
*Transferred to Army Resrve Class A upon Demobilization* 28/2/19
*Place* Chatham
*Home Address* as per 1911 census.
(Presumably he got a travel voucher to get him from Chatham to Newcastle.
I'd also presumed he left for home later on that day - 28/2/19, - but I don't know that - all I do know is my youngest aunt's birth was rego'ed 1920q2.)


EDIT - For calrity, the Chatham & Newcastle I referred to are in the UK, not NB.

Bryan

Bryan Report 15 May 2014 12:08

Many thanks for the comprehensive reply.

I had often wondered why his middle child never had a good thing to say about him. It looks like there was reason for the relationship to be off to a really rocky start.

I had wondered if he was so ingrained with his military life style followed by all those years as a POW that he found it hard to settle. But a few dates and a little math suggest a different reason for the estrangement.

MILITARY RECORD:
29 June 1897 London - enlisted Royal Irish Rifles aged 15 years 11 months. Regimental number 5137 posted to Belfast.
8 December 1900 posted to India after 3 years 162 days
23 October 1908 returned home after 7 years 319 days
8 March 1912 discharged with total service of 14 years 254 days

21 December 1814 reenlisted with Royal Irish Rifles
30 December 1914 joined in Belfast
4 January 1915 appointed Lance Corporal
23 March 1915 Expeditionary Force
10 May 1915 Prisoner of War
25 November 1918 repatriated
31 January 1919 in Dublin for demobilization
8 March 1919 transferred to Reserve Regimental number 2583
Total/Combined years of service 18 years 335 days.
Pension calculated on 14 years 253 days of service

Again, thanks for your interest.

B

Bryan

Bryan Report 15 May 2014 12:08

Many thanks for the comprehensive reply.

I had often wondered why his middle child never had a good thing to say about him. It looks like there was reason for the relationship to be off to a really rocky start.

I had wondered if he was so ingrained with his military life style followed by all those years as a POW that he found it hard to settle. But a few dates and a little math suggest a different reason for the estrangement.

MILITARY RECORD:
29 June 1897 London - enlisted Royal Irish Rifles aged 15 years 11 months. Regimental number 5137 posted to Belfast.
8 December 1900 posted to India after 3 years 162 days
23 October 1908 returned home after 7 years 319 days
8 March 1912 discharged with total service of 14 years 254 days

21 December 1814 reenlisted with Royal Irish Rifles
30 December 1914 joined in Belfast
4 January 1915 appointed Lance Corporal
23 March 1915 Expeditionary Force
10 May 1915 Prisoner of War
25 November 1918 repatriated
31 January 1919 in Dublin for demobilization
8 March 1919 transferred to Reserve Regimental number 2583
Total/Combined years of service 18 years 335 days.
Pension calculated on 14 years 253 days of service

Again, thanks for your interest.

B