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WW2 civilian casualties

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WW2 civilian casualties

Postby Ashbee » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:21 am

I've noticed that often the death toll from a major incident is recorded as 'XX but probably a lot higher'. I'm reading about London in the blitz and this has cropped up several times. So my question is how are civilians who go missing recorded? Does anyone know?
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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby junkers » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:54 pm

The short answer is no as people would have been moving around and it depends if anyone survived from the bombing event during the Blitz to tell someone.
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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby Ashbee » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:27 am

That's my point. One incident is officially declared as a death toll of 70-odd but the author said nearer 400. If a relative went out one day and never returned how would their disappearance be treated officially? Would they be declared dead on an assumption at a future date or left as fate unknown forever?
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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:36 pm

My presumption is that the wartime process didn't alter from that applicable in peacetime.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declared_death_in_absentia seems a good place to start.

So far as I can see, there would be no automatic processing of declaration of death for missing persons. Someone would need to make a specific​application for each missing person and when such an application might be granted, would depend on the circumstances of each case (each raid here). Given that there is seldom any documentation to say who was actually in a specific building at any one time, I suspect that the process would tend to require a waiting time of years, not weeks, before declaring someone dead, rather than just wandered off.

This must surely mean that no death certificate exists for a number of victims of air raids, especially where no-one remained with a financial interest in invoking the procedure.

Comments and corrections welcome!

NB - if right, this must surely suggest the outline process for victims of colliery disasters as per another thread.

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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby Ashbee » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:37 pm

Must be an awful situation, always wondering if the missing person might walk in one day. And, from our (family historians) point view, a problem with the absence of a certificate.
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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:15 pm

For the friends and families of those caught up in air raids, I'd guess that they generally suspected the worst. A worse case is probably those declared missing in action - were they dead or prisoner? It could take a long time before confirmation of the latter.

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Re: WW2 civilian casualties

Postby Ashbee » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:34 pm

That's true. My great grandfather died at the Somme but listed as missing and commemorated at Thiepval. His file contains letters sent by my great grandmother asking the authorities for news - it is heartbreaking.
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