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The Second World War in General Please use this forum to discuss other World War Two related subjects not covered by the main categories.

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Old 25th August 2017, 10:09
alanatabz alanatabz is offline
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Graveyard decisions

Morning All

Does anybody know what determines where WW2 service personnel are buried?

Family? Authorities?

e.g. German Airman are mostly buried at Cannock Chase, a few are buried in Aberdeen (Dyce)

A WAAF NCO is buried in Aberdeen, but her Wing was based near Dundee and Unit in Aberdeenshire

An aircrew from the same plane are buried in several different cemetery's.

Just wondered what the protocol was?
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Old 25th August 2017, 16:10
rafcommands rafcommands is offline
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Re: Graveyard decisions

Many and various is the short answer.

Overseas and UK fatality different as was war and peace.

For UK - wartime
If possible the NoK was contacted for wishes.

Some opted to have body or ashes transported and buried local to family.

If NoK could not be contacted or they opted for service burial then the local unit who could provide a bearer party was charged with the duty.

On established stations they had a local RAF burial plot and this could be used until capacity reached but most used a local churchyard of the correct denonimation.

On busy stations some burial duties were refused due to the moral problems of constant burial parties raising mortality issues with surviving crews.

I have an ATA burial local to me that died in an adjacent parish, where the NoK could not be contacted but instead of being taken to burial close to the nearest RAF station or in the parish of death, the RAF conceded to the wishes of adjacent parish for the airman to be interred locally and for the town to look after the grave.

Another point to watch is post war concentration burials where scattered graves were exhumed and taken to a central cemetery for reburial - Cannock Chase is mostly made up of reburials for German Forces.

Ross
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Old 28th August 2017, 16:39
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is online now
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Re: Graveyard decisions

On the international level, the Geneva Convention says that "the dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained." Additional Protocol I adds that the parties must conclude agreements to protect and maintain gravesites permanently.

This applies of course to enemy dead, own war dead are supposed to be as well disposed as possible.

From what I know, war dead in the home country were often brought back for private burial in their hometown/family place in UK, the USA (where they were mainly training losses) and in Germany before Allied forces entered the country.

During wartime, most of war dead abroad (both enemy and friendly) were buried close to their death place, or for aircrew brought back to a resting place near their base (applies to RAF, USAAF and Luftwaffe).

But after the war, things were very different depending of the country:
_ USA proposes to all dead relatives to bring back the body (if not missing) to the States for private burial. For those who declined, they created huge war cemeteries where they gathered them. Special fact is that despite ten of thousand of Americans dead in Germany, no war cemetery was created in this country but the dead were reburied in nearby Allied countries (France, Belgium and Netherlands).
_ Britain's policy is to leave the war dead in the country they fell, and grave concentration is done where local maintenance is not possible. In friendly countries (like France), graves in small cemeteries were kept in place and often cared for by local inhabitants. In Germany, all war dead were reburied in big war cemeteries.
_ Germany's policy is similar to Britain's except that all war dead are supposed to be gathered in big cemeteries (for example one for Netherlands, one for Belgium, one for all southern France, etc...). Post WWII little could be excepted of local care for German war dead in other countries...
_ French, Belgian and Norwegian soldiers who died in UK during WWII were almost all brought home, but I don't know the general policy of these countries. For example, tens of thousands of French soldiers died in Germany (most in captivity, but also during the 1945 campaign) and I have no idea of the official policy for them.

Last comment: in the Pacific and East front, the Geneva Convention did not apply. Most German cemeteries in Soviet Union were destroyed or not cared of, and Volskbund is currently searching these graves all over Eastern Europe. Actually Soviet did not bother much of their own dead neither, and many Soviet soldiers share mass graves.
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