Identity discs: The recovery and identification of First World War soldiers located during archaeological works on the former Western front

Sarah I. Ashbridge, Simon Verdegem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

During the First World War, German, French, and British soldiers were provided with identity discs or bracelets containing personal information to ensure that they could be identified, were they to die in battle. Each combatant nation developed their system in response to the difficulties encountered in relation to the identification and burial of dead on the battlefield, in accordance with the requirements of the 1906 Geneva Convention. As a result, it is possible to encounter a variety of designs issued during the war, including historical patterns which had been re-issued. Though it is not unusual to discover the presence of skeletal remains from the First World War during archaeological works in France and Belgium, it is a rare occasion to also recover an identity disc. This paper will describe how soldiers located during archaeological works are identified, making recommendations for the improved recording of skeletal remains recovered during the excavation process to assist the investigative procedures. These recommendations may also be applied to the discovery of more recent military remains, e.g. soldiers who died during the Second World War, where evidence of war crimes may be present.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110568
Number of pages14
JournalForensic Science International
Volume317
Early online date4 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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