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Reported Missing in the Great War (Hardback)

100 Years of Searching for the Truth

WWI 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Military

By John Broom, Foreword by Paul Reed
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 58 integrated black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526749512
Published: 4th November 2020
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #18

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Of the one million British and Empire military personnel who were killed in action, died of wounds, disease or injury or were missing presumed dead during the First World War, over half a million have no known grave. Of these, nearly 188,000 are buried anonymously in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries, with a stone bearing the epitaph ‘Known Unto God’. The remains of a further 339,000 lie scattered across the wartime battlefields, having been buried in marked graves that were subsequently obliterated as front lines moved backwards and forwards, or destroyed forever in the carnage mechanised warfare wrought upon the human body.

For the families of those who were reported missing, months of agonising uncertainty could await, as searches were made to establish the precise fate of their loved ones. Sometimes rumours that an individual was recovering from wounds in a hospital, unable to contact his family, or had been taken prisoner by the enemy could circulate, causing a toxic admixture of hope, tinged with anxiety then dashed by the despair of the confirmation of death.

This book traces the history of the searching services that were established to assist families in eliciting definitive news of their missing loved ones. Then, using previously unpublished material, most of it lovingly preserved in family archives for over a century, the lives of eight soldiers, whose families had no known resting place to visit after the conclusion of the war, are recounted. These young men, their lives full of promise, vanished from the face of the earth. The circumstances of their deaths and the painstaking efforts undertaken, both by family members and public and voluntary organisations, to piece together what information could be found are described. The eventual acceptance of the reality of death and the need to properly commemorate the lives of those who would have no marked grave are examined. For three of the eight men, recent discoveries have meant that over a century since they were given up as missing, their remains have been identified and allowed families some degree of closure.

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 John Broom

About John Broom

After graduating in History from the University of Sheffield in the early 1990s, JOHN BROOM pursued a career in teaching, firstly in his chosen subject and latterly with children with autism. A chance inheritance of family papers eleven years ago prompted his interest in the spiritual and ethical issues of the twentieth-century world wars.
John was awarded a PhD on Christianity in the British Armed Services by the University of Durham, and is the author of five published books: Faithful in Adversity: The Royal Army Medical Corps in the Second World War (Pen & Sword, 2019); Opposition to the Second World War: Conscience, Resistance and Service in Britain, 1933–45 (Pen & Sword, 2018); A History of Cigarette and Trade Cards (Pen & Sword, 2018); Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War (Pen & Sword, 2016); Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War (Pen & Sword, 2015).


About Paul Reed

Paul Reed is a leading military historian, specializing in the two world wars. He has been visiting European battlefields for more than thirty years, and lived on the Somme for over a decade. He has worked as a researcher and battlefield guide, and is the author of several books on the Great War. He also regularly contributes to television programmes, such as Timewatch, Meet the Ancestors and Who Do You Think You Are? and was historical consultant to BBC1’s My Family At War.

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Missing: The Need for Closure after the Great War (Hardback)

In May 1918, Angela and Leopold Mond received a knock on the front door. It was the postman and he was delivering the letter every family in the United Kingdom dreaded: the notification of a loved one’s battlefield death, in their case the death in action of their eldest child, their son, Lieutenant Francis Mond. The twenty-two year old Royal Flying Corps pilot, along with his Observer, Lieutenant Edgar Martyn, had been shot down over no man’s land, both being killed instantly. If there was one crumb of comfort, it was the news that a brave Australian officer, Lieutenant A.H. Hill, had gone…

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