The below letters will give an understanding of how long it took during the First World War for people to know if their husbands, sons, brothers etc. had been killed during the war or if they were still safe.
The correspondence was written to the Colonial Secretary in St. Johnís from a concerned parent approximately a month after the Battle of the Somme had started on July 1st to enquire about her son whom she had not heard from in awhile. The response back was that he was considered to be missing which no doubt gave the parents at least some hope.
Take note of the date of the next correspondence from the Colonial Secretary to the parents, nearly a year later when they are informed that their son had been confirmed as being dead from the fighting that took place on July 1st, 1916. For an entire year they no doubt lived in hope that their son was still alive when in fact he had been killed a year ago.
These letters not only provide an indication of how long it took to confirm details of those that were missing, killed or wounded in war at that time period but also how long it took for correspondence to go back and forth between places.
July 31st, 1916
J. R. Bennett
We are very anxious to know about Pte. Silas Jeffers No. 292 as we have not heard from him for some time and was in the big drive in France. Would you please find out something about him as his mother is very anxious to know. If it costs anything let us know.
31st July 1916
To: Mr. Francis Jeffers
Regret to inform you that the Record Office, London, officially reports No. 292 Private Silas Jeffers as Missing.
Upon receipt of further information I shall immediately wire you.
July 13, 1917
I beg to inform you that a report has now been received from the Newfoundland Pay and Record Office, London, which states that the Officer Commanding the Third Army Grave Registration Unit reports, on June 15th last, that No. 292, Private Silas Jeffers, who was previously presumed dead, was killed in action on July 1st, 1916.