Trench Chat: The Missing with John Broom

In this latest Trench Chat we talk to historian and author John Broom about his new book Reported Missing in the Great War which will be published by Pen & Sword Books in October 2020. John tells us about his research, some of the stories of grief and loss, and how in some cases closure for families took over a century to happen.

Below is a link to John Broom’s new book mentioned in this week’s podcast episode. Click on the image to be taken to the Amazon page. You can help support the Old Front Line podcast by ordering books this way. Thank you!

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9 Comments on “Trench Chat: The Missing with John Broom

  1. Excited to be able to read Reported Missing! Glad to have been of some help. It was a whirlwind year with MoD, finding Frank and learning more information from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent podcast with some interesting comparisons with the cultural norms of a century ago. Good also to give the contribution of the Irish Catholics their due.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These podcasts are absolutely brilliant, please keep them coming Paul. I’m wondering how many of those listed as missing in action did actually turn up later in hospitals or POW camps. I only ask because of something that happened to my grandad Fred. He served with the Hampshires in Mesopotamia. He survived the war and lived well into his eighties, but a few years ago whilst browsing in a local bookshop I found a book listing all those from his battalion who had died during the Great War. I was most surprised (and not a little bit shocked, to be honest) to see my grandad’s name in there. I also discovered that his name also appears on the battalion roll of honour in St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth. It seems that during the disastrous Battle of Hanna on January 21st 1916, for whatever reason, Fred went missing and was listed as such in the casualty lists. Thankfully he later re-appeared but presumably the lists weren’t amended. His name doesn’t appear on the village war memorial, however, so the records must have been corrected at some point. What I would give to be able to turn back the clock and ask Fred what actually happened on that fateful day 104 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! What a story. I’ve come across this before, and considering how large the army was I’m surprised it didn’t happen more often. Thanks for sharing that story!


  4. For similar stories with an Australian angle, I found THE NAMELESS NAMES – Recovering The Missing ANZACS by Scott Bennett most helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sad and thought provoking. I researched a local WW2 CWGC burial and came across a letter from his mother in his father’s WW1 file. She was asking for news of her husband who had been missing for eighteen months following the Battle of the Somme. She needed confirmation of his death because she wanted to remarry. They found his remains eventually and I believe he is at Caterpillar Valley. I have no doubt that she mourned her husband but there is no personal inscription on his headstone. It may be that she had moved on in more ways than one, as I’ve noticed that widows are often mentioned in a CWGC entry’s details, sometimes with their new surname following remarriage. In the case of this man there are no details at all of family so the form may not have reached them. It has made me wonder what it must have been like for those whose husbands were never found. I suspect second marriages were as much about financial security as companionship, especially if there were children.

    Liked by 1 person

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