The story of one British mother’s desperate search for her son’s remains after he was killed in action during World War I.
In May, 1918, Angela and Leopold Mond received a knock on the front door. It was the postman delivering the letter every family in the United Kingdom dreaded: the notification of a loved one’s battlefield death—in their case their eldest child, their son, Lieutenant Francis Mond.
The Royal Flying Corps pilot, along with his Observer, Lieutenant Edgar Martyn, had been shot down over no man’s land in France, both killed instantly. Yet there was one comfort: both bodies had been recovered. There would, at the very least, be a grave to visit after the war.
However, no news followed. Angela Mond wrote to the Imperial War Graves Commission asking for further details, but no one knew where the bodies were buried. There was an initial trail, but from that last sighting both men had simply disappeared.
So begins the story detailed in Missing. Angela, a wealthy, well-connected 48-year-old mother of five and a socialite from London’s West End, embarked on an exhaustive quest to find her son that took her to the battlefields and cemeteries of France and into correspondence with hundreds of French civilians and British and German servicemen. She even bought the ground on which her son’s plane had crashed and erected a private memorial to Francis, a memorial that survives to this day.
During the Great War, more than 750,000 servicemen and women had been killed. Half of them had no known grave, leaving many families desperate for solace. This is just one of those heartbreaking stories.