Where was information about a British soldier's blood group kept?

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Justin History, May 31, 2014.

  1. Hi All

    Does anyone know where this information would have been kept? It doesnt seem to have been on the ID tags or in the Pay Book (could be wrong here as my grandad's pay book is with my father), but presumably it would have been important for this information to be readily to hand for casualties?

    I am particularly interested in how this would have been handled in the Far East before the surrender of Singapore (and also as POWs), although I suspect that it may have been the same throughout WW2.

    Best wishes

  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    I cannot answer the question, but on checking my late Fathers Military Record, there is no Blood Group mentioned on any paperwork.

    The paperwork that I possess has no section for inclusion of a Blood Group.

  3. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Presumably because blood transfusion, particularly of the battlefield type, wasn't commonly practised in WW2? By the 1930s blood plasma and red blood cells could be separated and stored for longer. Blood types - the rhesus blood-group system - were identified around 1939-40. By the Second World War new techniques of refrigeration and plasma storage meant that blood banks could be established and blood was available for any patient who needed it. (from the Science Museum website)

    From 400 pints transfused during the Dunkirk campaign to over 100,000 in 1944-45. Good article (pdf) online here: http://www.ramcjournal.com/content/120/1/24.full.pdf
  4. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    And I like this from ARRSEpedia:

    "Under the top flap, mark your Surname, Zap Number and Blood Group. If you are really keen, sew a strip of white tape on first. Don't write your blood group on your helmet cover, FFD outer or webbing, it looks gay and the chance of them still being with you at the point you receive whole blood is near zero. The British medical chain will always cross-match before transfusion anyway, so this is just in case. You could end up being cas-evaced by a Coalition ally or, God help you, to a local civilian hospital. In which case every little helps."
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Had a bloody good look through all my record sheets and can't find any reference to Blood Group.

    Perhaps someone can do the same for the RAF, RN and the other services ?

  7. Hi All

    Thanks for all of this. The reason why I am asking is that I have a short list of a company of prisoners in Changi Gaol in 1944-45, which was once in the possession of my grandfather who was a FEPOW (William Charles Nash). The list I have has clearly been copied from an original sometime after WW2 and includes blood group for each individual POW in his company in Changi Gaol, for example A2, O4 etc.


  8. According to Blood Transfusion in WW1 first transfer soldier to soldier, then could be stored (but probably impossible in Changi):

    Giving and storing blood
    The British Army began the routine use of blood transfusion in treating wounded soldiers. Blood was transferred directly from one person to another. But it was a US Army doctor, Captain Oswald Robertson, who realised the need to stockpile blood before casualties arrived. He established the first blood bank on the Western Front in 1917, using sodium citrate to prevent the blood from coagulating and becoming unusable. Blood was kept on ice for up to 28 days and then transported to casualty clearing stations for use in life-saving surgery where it was needed most.
    So maybe it was important to know the blood groups in Changi as only prisoner to prisoner transfusions possible? Presumably surgeons etc elsewhere in WW2 must have had access to some sort of blood banks as well as plasma?
  9. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Or, for the poor prisoners from Changi, blood groups for transfusions as part of their recovery?
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I have no idea how factual or how staged this is :-


    Nortons liked it enough to use it in their advertising though..

    Guy Hudson, Drew5233 and BrianM59 like this.
  11. Combover

    Combover Guest

    There may be something in the fact that everybody can accept blood type 'O'.
  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    I have a Soldier's Service and Pay Book (Army book 6). Could not find anywhere where this information would be written, but there is an entry in red ink "Blood donor group O" . Unlike the other entries (service, vaccination, medical examinations) it has not been initialed.
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    It could be as stated, that group would be checked at the point of treatment anyway, which makes sense as paperwork is open to error and to mistaken identity.

    Even now the fact that I know my own, my husband's and my children's (and have paperwork) counts for very little, eg Mine was always rechecked when getting medical treatment.

    O neg was considered in the past as a "universal donor".
  14. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Christ Almighty, I'm cringing now at the thought of that glass in his rucksack in the event of a get-off....I can count the number of times I've carried glass about my person on the bike in 32 years on the fingers of half of one hand!

    That was a set rule when I was couriering - no glass.

    As an aside - the WWII-era identification of different bloodgroups and the simplification of transfusions brought to a sharp halt some VERY interesting experiments that were going on mid-century regarding the use of pasteurised sea water as a plasma substitute! Whether or not it dates back to our long-distant antecedents as amphibians...it turns out that pasteurised sea water free of certain minerals and compounds is as good for the job as plasma - and of course there's a rather plentiful supply of it...
  15. I love the Norton's add. So presumably blood banks would be reserved for the surgeons and doctors at field hospitals/casualty stations and plasma for use in the field, or is this too simplistic?

    All of the info makes it look like it was more important potentially to know who the O group donors were in the case of Changi. Perhaps it was important to know the other blood groups as well because of poor diet/disease. This would mean that healthy O group donors were not as easy to find as normal and so knowing who had the other blood groups would make it possible to find donors within the same blood groups (A to A etc).


  16. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I've seen it in quite a few paybooks (the attached is an example where its under Medical Classification)but its not particularly common and seems a bit of an afterthought rather that a universal thing. Also another example here http://www.ab64.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/a6.htm on Jim Swans book.


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  17. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Great ads Rich thank you.
  18. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    This might help

    O can donate to O,A,B,AB and receive from O
    A can donate to A,AB and receive from A,O
    B can donate to B,AB and receive from B,O
    AB can donate to AB and receive from AB,A,B,O

    Possibly the reason for Geoff's example being written in red was the importance of knowing he could donate to anyone if needed.

    Ron, for the RAF it is shown on page 7 of an Airman's Paybook and also on the reverse of an Officer's Medical Card, I assume there was an equivalent for OR's.
    My grandad's Paybook shows two different Blood Group Systems, Moss and International, with 2 and A entered respectively. His Medical Card has II A in the Moss box and the M.O. has stuck his initials (MSR) in the International box and MSR again in the Initials of M.O. box so I'm guessing it should be - Moss (II) International (A) Initials of M.O. (MSR)
    img003.jpg img001.jpg -.

    From a different angle, a report on the collection of blood from airmen and women at Holme on Spalding Moor in July 1944 for the ministry of Health Blood Transfusion Unit.


  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    My Blood Group was recorded in my AB64, I think it was on my ID disc too. I also had it clearly displayed on my webbing (Black marker pen) and I had a press button canvas tag with it on.
  20. Thanks All. I now understand this much better than I did and also the complexities of who can donate to who. It also makes the use of the blood group record on the Changi record even clearer.

    What seems strange is that the paybook didn't include this info, perhaps plasma was used for surgery in the field hospitals as well as in the front line?

    I am just imagining the situation whereby a casualty comes in, no pay book or the paybook doesnt include a handwritten note of the blood group, the casualty is unconscious and the accompanying medics don't know the blood group.

    Is the use of plasma okay for replacing lost blood during major surgery?



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