Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Missing in Action

The War ground on and the rest of Britain moved on with it. The suffering of the families in Broughtonthwaite though, continued, with parents, wives  and relations petitioning the War Office for news on their lost ones. Not for them the relief or grief of scouring the newspapers for familiar names in the casualty lists or the lists of dead. A confirmation of death would be a blessing compared to the agony of not knowing.

However, the War Office was unable or unwilling to give an answer. The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the 13th Battalion elicited no special treatment from the bureaucrats. The relatives were dealt with in the same brisk, business-like manner as the families of tens of thousands of other soldiers. The men were simply listed as Missing. Not Dead, or Died of Wounds, or Killed in Action, just Missing.

Reproduced courtesy of the Cooper family.

And that continued to be the official response until the Committee of Enquiry into the Harcourt Incident delivered its secret report. The men of the 13th Battalion were officially declared Dead in 1921 and the families of the Broughtonthwaite Mates had to take what little comfort they could in that.

Until the events of 1926, that is.

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