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Don

The term KIA, what does it cover

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Greetings to all.

It’s probably a silly question to ask, but as I am still learning and getting more intrigued about WW1.

Here is my Question .The term KIA, what does it cover..( I know it means Killed in Action)

The reason being is I am researching two Royal Fusiliers who were killed by accident in Houplines on the same day 3-11-14 and are buried together in Houplines Cemetery. Both Medal Cards have KIA but their wills say “Killed by accident while on Military Duty” Can I take it that KIA covers killed by accident

John Dempsey Pte 9340

John Dempsey Pte 11420

Would be grateful for some obs on this one Thank you

Gerry

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11420 is listed as 'Died' in SDGW which means a cause of death other than 'kia - i.e in combat' or 'dow - died of wounds' and includes sickness and accidents.

While SDGW may not be the most accurate I'd suggest more so than a nameless clerk scribbling 'kia' on an mic, unlike the wills you have which are legal documents and therefore more definitive.

As for the other one I can't find him.

Ken

EDIT Probably because his name was 9340 Dingle and he is also listed as 'Died'

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Steve said (when this was in Skindles) Killed in action means just that - facing the enemy when killed." but does it? If a soldier out of line is unfortunate to be killed by a long range shell or in an aircraft bombing raid is he not also KIA? Surely its killed as a result of enemy action? Is a soldier drowned when his troopship hits a mine facing the enemy? He's certainly KIA.

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Hi Ken,

Ta for reply I am still digging for info on John Dempsey.So If Find out anymore I will post it.

The death Certs I am reseaching can also be misleading as well.I came across two Men who were executed, one had shot for desertion as cause of death and the other had Died in Belgium/France.I also came across to mention a few, Double Pneumonia, Gass, Drowning,Horse fell on him,Missing presumed dead,at Home,All theese terms come under KIA on the medal cards.

But back to my Question

Have to say I would agree with Centurion.

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Centurion's "Killed as a result of enemy action" is correct. I am aware that this question refers to an army casualty but the Admiralty had very specific "Cause of death" categories which were also applied to RND casualties who were "K.I.A". The original Admiralty ledgers contain the following descriptors for the four "causes of death" listed therein:

Cause of Death 1 -

Killed in action;

Died of wounds or disease following wounds;

Missing after action and subsequently presumed killed in action;

Killed, died of injuries or exposure, died of disease following wounds or exposure, drowned, missing and subsequently preumed killed or drowned following loss of ship in action by mine or torpedo.

Cause of death 2 -

Killed, died of injuries or exposure, died of disease following injuries or exposure, drowned, missing and subsequently presumed killed or drowned following the acccidental loss of ship (wreck, collision, internal explosion, etc.), or where the actual cause of a vessel's loss is not known;

Accidental deaths (killed, drowned, etc.);

Deaths due to injuries or disease following injuries accidentally sustained.

Cause of death 3 -

Deaths from disease.

Cause of death 4 -

Deaths due to suicide, murder, alcoholism, heat stroke;

Deaths under anaesthetic, and any cases which cannot be classified under disease or accident.

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Thank You Horatio,That list is very informative and interesting.I have learned some more about KIA.

Gerry

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That's very interesting Horatio.

Also it's interesting noting 'alcoholism' in category 3 alongside 'murder' and 'suicide'. Self inflicted in otherwords. I can't quite fathom 'heat stroke' as meriting the same approbrium somehow.

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That's very interesting Horatio.

Also it's interesting noting 'alcoholism' in category 3 alongside 'murder' and 'suicide'. Self inflicted in otherwords. I can't quite fathom 'heat stroke' as meriting the same opprobrium somehow.

I think you mis read it as meriting opprobrium. Category 4 is well summed up by "any cases which cannot be classified under disease or accident" its a sort of sweep up odds and sods grouping. Alcoholism , murder and suicide, heatstroke are in cat 4 not cat 3

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Is a soldier drowned when his troopship hits a mine facing the enemy? He's certainly KIA.

I'm not sure about that Centurion. The key part of the phrase is "in Action", which from my experience refers to killed in battle or killed as a result of shelling/bombing in the battle area. For example, IIRC, someone who was severely wounded but died before he got to aid station was KIA.

I think those who died as a result a ship going down due to a mine were drowned at sea, missing at sea or missing presumed killed at sea, but I am not sure of this.

Perhaps someone has the army definitions.

Cheers

Chris

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The definitions given in Officers Died are listed as KIA, DOW, Killed, Died, and Drowned.

Died = specifically from natural causes.

Killed = other than in action.

I prefer to widen the definition of KIA to include those killed as a result of enemy action (bombing or shelling behind lines) but would classify those lost at sea as Drowned, whether from enemy action or not.

But it is clearly a very grey area and there are many inconsistencies, some of which are described in earlier posts, so there is really no "right answer".

Ron

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The OP referred to KIA on medal cards, and was again noted in post 4.

While I would dispute the mics are documents of record as far as cause of death is concerned, I imagine shorthand was used and while I've seen the other categories on the cards, presumably the Medals Office was mainly concerned with the fact the recipient was deceased and therefore that made a difference to disposal. I doubt anyone bothered to challenge the cause at the time, I fact I can't recall having seen anything struck out in where a death was recorded, which was by no means in every case.

As the above posts show there can be no single definition as each database seems to put a different interpretation on its meaning - as Ron says 'a very grey area'.

Ken

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I'm not sure about that Centurion. The key part of the phrase is "in Action", which from my experience refers to killed in battle or killed as a result of shelling/bombing in the battle area. For example, IIRC, someone who was severely wounded but died before he got to aid station was KIA.

I think those who died as a result a ship going down due to a mine were drowned at sea, missing at sea or missing presumed killed at sea, but I am not sure of this.

Perhaps someone has the army definitions.

Cheers

Chris

Under that definition if his ship was torpedoed by a submarine it would be KIA but not if it hit a mine laid by a submarine which, to put it mildly, seems faintly ridiculous

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That's very interesting Horatio.

Also it's interesting noting 'alcoholism' in category 3 alongside 'murder' and 'suicide'. Self inflicted in otherwords. I can't quite fathom 'heat stroke' as meriting the same approbrium somehow.

Presumably being murdered didn't attract opprobrium either. Heat injuries were generally categorised as self inflicted though, and in my personal experience right up to the sixties. (I was caught out without a shirt and was badly sunburned to the extent that I bear the scars 50 years on. I would not go sick, as I believed that I would be held culpable for not having taken the proper precautions. )

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Presumably being murdered didn't attract opprobrium either. Heat injuries were generally categorised as self inflicted though, and in my personal experience right up to the sixties. (I was caught out without a shirt and was badly sunburned to the extent that I bear the scars 50 years on. I would not go sick, as I believed that I would be held culpable for not having taken the proper precautions. )

Sun burn and heat stroke are two entirely different things. Heat stroke is often completely unavoidable by the sufferer who has little choice in where he is. Sailors working in engine rooms for example, soldiers being transported by steel barge in Mesopotamia being two examples. In some recent cases of death through heatstroke in Iraq the inquest found the army culpable not the unfortunate soldier.

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At one stage the issue of how someone was killed actually resulted in a fair bit of confusion for the Royal Navy – for the early part of the war at least…

The HMS Bulwark had been destroyed by an internal explosion in November 1914 but the widows and orphans of the officers killed in the accident were treated differently to the families of officers who had actually been killed in action. At this time naval pensions and allowances were paid on three scales: the highest scale (A) was awarded to relatives of officers killed in action, the intermediate scale (B ) to relatives of officers killed on duty but not in action, and the ordinary scale (C ), which was awarded to relatives of officers whose deaths were not attributable to the service.

At one stage all of the pensions and awards to the relatives of the officers who had lost their lives in the Bulwark were being paid on the intermediate scale, but some MPs could not understand why a man who had been blown up in the Medway would not be considered as having been killed in action, whereas if he had been blown up at sea by a submarine or a mine then he was. The government response in July 1915 (seven months after Bulwark’s loss) was to say that while the question of awarding pensions on the scale laid down for the relatives of officers killed in action was already before the Select Committee on Naval and Military Services (Pensions and Grants); in the meantime the officers of the HMS Bulwark were being treated as if they had drowned.

Sir Gerald Hohler (Member of Parliament for Chatham) pretty much summed up how ludicrous the situation had become: “Yes, as if they had been drowned. It is really very difficult to conceive anything more foreign to the truth than to say these men who were blown up were drowned.”

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Thank you Ken and Ron,

I would agree it's a grey area and hard to pin down a definite term.

I am very much inclined to accept a death cert rather than a MIC in futher.But would cross reference them both as part of my research on a Soldier

G

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Under that definition if his ship was torpedoed by a submarine it would be KIA but not if it hit a mine laid by a submarine which, to put it mildly, seems faintly ridiculous

But were they officially classed as KIA if they died on a troopship struck by a torpedo?

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Surely it fulfils the essential criterion i.e. death as a direct result of enemy action.

Phil (PJA)

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Was Lord Kitchener's death officially described as killed in action?

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For example, IIRC, someone who was severely wounded but died before he got to aid station was KIA.

A wounded man draws his last breath in the Regimental Aid Post, and he's killed in action.

If he survives evacuation to the Casualty Clearing Station, and expires there, he's died of wounds.

Is that correct ?

Phil (PJA)

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We seem to be putting our own criteria on the term, rather than what was considered KIA at the time.

Killed in Action for the army from my experience was killed in ground contact with the enemy or died before they reached an aid post. If they reached an aid post and died thereafter they were classified as DOW.

Cheers

Chris

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Chris

I think the real point is that there were no hard-and-fast objective definitions because they were not needed - if a soldier died in military service the method would not affect things like a widow's entitlement to pension - except in the specific case of those "shot at dawn." Consequently, any definitions must contain some subjective element. I think you would probably agree that if an RFC aircraft was shot down by an enemy fighter, killing both the RFC pilot and an RFA officer observer, they would be described as "killed in action" although not "in ground contact with the enemy".

Geraint - I think Lord K was described simply as having been "drowned" rather than KIA.

Ron

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We seem to be putting our own criteria on the term, rather than what was considered KIA at the time.

Killed in Action for the army from my experience was killed in ground contact with the enemy or died before they reached an aid post. If they reached an aid post and died thereafter they were classified as DOW.

Cheers

Chris

For some reason, the criteria for recording battle fatalities were different in Gallipoli from those that were used in other theatres.

The Official Medical Services, Casualties and Medical Statistics, tabulate battle casualties in the Dardnalles as Killed ; Died before admission to hospital ; Died of wounds in hospital. In the other theatres, the breakdown is confined to Killed and Died of wounds.

In addition there were, of course, the Missing to be reckoned with.

My assumption is that those who died of wounds in the front line were counted as Killed in France and Flanders, whereas in Gallipoli they were identified as Died before admission to hospital. It's all a bit of a quibble, I suppose....but it leaves me wondering why the criteria were different.

Phil (PJA)

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Could the different recording be due to the fact that casualties in Gallipoli needed to be transported by sea to Mudros or Egypt. They could not be immediately evacuated by road or rail.

I suspect that a death categorized as DOW would cause upset to next of kin if they had been told by well meaning officers or comrades that their son, husband or father had died quickly with no suffering as DOW implies some suffering.

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Could the different recording be due to the fact that casualties in Gallipoli needed to be transported by sea to Mudros or Egypt. They could not be immediately evacuated by road or rail.

Good point...I had not thought of that.

It conjures up images of dying men stranded on beaches, waiting for the boat to come in.

Yet it does seem anomalous that the Gallipoli fighting, with its chaotic and rather " primitive" conditions, afforded the medical services there the chance to differentiate in that manner.

You would have thought that the established and relatively consolidated routines of evacuation on the Western Front would have allowed for more meticuloius reporting of how many wounded died en route to hospital.

I wonder if you're right about the emotional impact on families in regard to KIA/DOW. At least a man who died of wounds might have been sedated and tended as far as circumstances permitted, perhaps with a Chaplain, Padre or Rabbi at hand. Worse still, I imagine, was the ordeal of coping with the news that your loved one was missing, presumed dead.

Phil (PJA)

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