Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Missing Soldier

From the Halifax Courier, 8th April 1916.


Mrs. Baines of 23, Leymoor-road, Longwood, has received information that she has been awarded a pension from army funds from April 4 in respect of her husband, L.Cpl. George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment.  The notification states: “The change of payment must not be taken as indicating that there is any proof of the death of your husband.”  It was on Sept. 3, 1915, that Mrs. Baines was officially informed that her husband was missing after an engagement, the place and date of which were stated to be unknown.  Since that time she has naturally lived in suspense.  Lance-Corporal Baines enlisted in October, 1914, prior to which he was employed by the Longwood Engineering Co.  He formerly played football with the Parkwood United Methodist Church.  He left England in July last year for the Dardanelles, and his last letter to his wife was dated July 28.  Inquiries made of the American Ambassador brought the reply that the Turkish Foreign Office had no information of L. Cpl. Baines being a prisoner of war in that country.

[I have not written about casualties before, but this account is unusual in focussing on the effect on the family left at home.   

The story does not, of course, have a happy ending. The Commonwealth War Graves website records  Lance Corporal George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, as one of the men killed during the Gallipoli campaign.  His name appears on the Helles Memorial to the nearly 21,000 men of the Commonwealth who died during the campaign and have no known grave.  

I don't know when Mrs Baines was told that he was presumed to be dead. We can only wonder when she stopped hoping to hear that he was still alive.]    

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