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POW records accuracy

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POW records accuracy

Postby edwards69 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:56 pm

Can anyone tell me please how accurate the POW records of the red cross are? My great grandfather Albert Smith C7986 (c prefix corresponds to 16-21st battalions) 18th Battalion Kings Royal Rifles is shown in the red cross records as with the 8th Battalion (possibly a mis-translation??). Also it records him as being taken prisoner at Bullecourt on 3 May 1917 when from what I can tell from the war diaries of the 18th Battalion they were hundreds of km's further north at the time. The POW record gives correct dob, place of birth and address. Many thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.
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Re: POW records accuracy

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:05 pm

Until someone proves them wrong, we have to believe them! The records have only been generally available very recently so I doubt we have any overall analysis.

It is quite possible that other sources could be in error. So far as I can see, the only evidence for your GGF's battalion comes from the Medal Rolls, which show 18th Battalion. It is not impossible that a transfer has been omitted from the Rolls - having said that, there are two transfers between different KRRC battalions on his page, so there's no evidence for systemic omission of battalion transfers. So on the balance of probabilities, we ought to assume that 18th is correct.

But - the battalions listed are, I believe, the "permanent" battalions. Someone could be seconded from one battalion to another and I believe that would not show up in the Rolls. So one possibility is that he was indeed permanently with the 18th but temporarily attached elsewhere - specifically, with a unit at Bullecourt. (Have you tracked where the 8th Bn was at that time?)

Another is that the "1" from "18th" has been missed. Though that then doesn't explain the discrepancy between their diary and Bullecourt.

And, of course, there's every possibility that the Bullecourt reference has been wrongly attached to your GGF.

So, sadly, we really don't seem to have enough independent data to triangulate just where he was when he was captured... Just several contradictions....
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