Squadrons knew fairly precisely when their crews would return, a calculation based upon the mileage of the trip and the amount of fuel on board. When crews did not return within the expected time, and no call came in from another RAF station to say that they had landed elsewhere, the crew were officially presumed to be missing.

Their next of kin were sent an immediate telegram by the squadron, which was then swiftly followed by a personal letter from the commanding officer of the squadron.

The airman’s effects were forwarded to