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Reported died in action, only to be told years later that he is alive


master brummie
I would like to share this story with you. While doing some research on my family tree i traced my wifes gt gt grandfather Michael O'Donnell. I noted from a army record that he was reported as died in service on the 27th August 1914. This was canceld when he was found in a prison of war camp in Germany. He was repatriated on 1st January 1919 from Germany to England. One can only emagine what his family went through. This could have caused all kinds of problems and probably did. So after further research i went to Lodge Hill Cemetry and there i found his grave, he was burried with his wife. I noted by the dates on the grave that they enjoyed a long life together. I remember my late mother inlaw telling me what a loving and caring man he was. God only knows what he must of endured in that prison camp in Germany, but at least he made it home, a lot did not. Also through my research and the help of friends on the forum his story lives on. As for Michael O'Donnell he and his wife ran a boarding house in Bath Row after the war up until late 50s.

god bless you Michael O'Donnell

Regards Stars
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Super Moderator
Staff member
I love to hear stories like this, because we can start to understand what history is, and who makes it.

By applying the practices of family history studies, can we create a device that can understand the voices that are not heard, the voices who want to speak: the very same voices that allow ordinary people to makehistory.

We can then begin to understand the importance of time, memory and morality, and answer the questions; what things meant to them, and understand why their history is important to them.

Thank you for posting this story


A similar thing happened to my aunt's husband. His name was Leslie Walker, and was reported killed in action during WW1. His name even appears in the roll of honour in Birmingham hall of memory. I don't know the full details, as my dad's family only rarely kept in touch, but he apparently surfaced some time later with head injuries. He had shrapnel in his head for the rest of his life, but lived to quite a good age.