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Blood group tattoos? BritForces SOP?

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Right, so I'm currently watching Silent Witness on BBC1. A body was found and the ME identified it as probably ex-british forces due to a blood group tattoo on his chest, stating it was standard procedure in the british forces.

 

I know the SS did it in the war, but I can't seem to find anything on it being standard procedure in the British armed forces, even in the SF community.

 

Anyone know better?

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To my knowledge (being ex army) I never knew anyone who did that, what's the point when we wore dog tags and the army had all our physical details on file from tattoos to scars

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Right, so I'm currently watching Silent Witness on BBC1. A body was found and the ME identified it as probably ex-british forces due to a blood group tattoo on his chest, stating it was standard procedure in the british forces.

 

I know the SS did it in the war, but I can't seem to find anything on it being standard procedure in the British armed forces, even in the SF community.

 

Anyone know better?

Definitely not a requirement within the last 30 years or so. Don't know about before then.

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As you no doubt know, it's not uncommon in the forces for soldiers to get a blood group tat done as a practical safeguard to assist medics, although (if there is time) most medics back at a decent facility where they have varied supplies of blood, will check and crossmatch blood type themselves; for all they know, such a tat might actually be incorrectly identifying the blood group since, like a lot of army tats, many of them are done when out on the piss with your squad mates, which is never a great guarantee of good judgement lol, and in any case, that info is on your forces record.

 

It absolutely has not ever been 'standard procedure in the British Forces' to tattoo a blood group on you, that's what dog tags and your record sheet are for. As far as I'm aware, it wasn't even standard procedure in the Waffen SS to get it done, it was just extremely common in that unit and so it was a good (but not guaranteed) way for the Allies to check if POWs were, or were not SS. After all, the SS started out insisting you had to be Aryan to join, but by 1945 they were letting 13 year-old lads of any nationality into it, so they hardly had time to guarantee all procedures were followed to the letter. Nevertheless, that SS practice is probably what the screenwriters were thinking of, but most fictional writers will never let facts get in the way of a good story idea, so it's is more likely that they simply just tweaked the truth a bit to get an intriguing plot device, since most viewers will not be bothered if that is true or not.

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I didn't think it was SOP and was quite surprised it was mentioned. There were other clues they could have used to get them going down the army and SF routes.

 

Literally the Medical examiner stepped up to the body, said he has a blood group tattooed on his chest. He must be in the british army.

 

The other person in the room says how do you know that and she responds with something along the lines of tattooing the blood group is SOP in the British army. I smelled bull and it didn't just seem right hence putting it up on here.

 

Shame, Silent Witness is a BBC drama, they had lots of references to the forces in this episode and lots of characters playing ex SF operators using weapons. I just hoped they had higher standards of fact checking really. It just felt like really poor story telling.

 

Cheers all, you've answered the question well.

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One thing we did in my regiment (not all of us) was put a dog on our right boot

 

As you laced them up, put the dog tag on the inside of the eyelet and carry on lacing up, I also had one on my Bergen and my webbing

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That's the trouble with watching films or TV shows where you know about a subject, it tends to spoil things. Ignorance is indeed often bliss when it comes to enjoying drama with technical or historical elements in it.

 

Did that with literally the opening shot of the new BBC TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, horse trots past with modern pattern horseshoes on it. Oops. Watched a film the other day where Nicholas Cage was supposedly piloting a Boeing 777, he gets cleared for take off and promptly rams both throttles forward all the way. Oops.

 

If you let that kind of thing bother you too much, you'd probably never watch anything ever again.

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My uncle had his done he was in late seventies early to mid eighties. He had it covered up mid nineties with a panther. He wasn't made to do it but thought it was a good idea.

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As you no doubt know, it's not uncommon in the forces for soldiers to get a blood group tat done as a practical safeguard to assist medics, although (if there is time) most medics back at a decent facility where they have varied supplies of blood, will check and crossmatch blood type themselves; for all they know, such a tat might actually be incorrectly identifying the blood group since, like a lot of army tats, many of them are done when out on the piss with your squad mates, which is never a great guarantee of good judgement lol, and in any case, that info is on your forces record.

 

It absolutely has not ever been 'standard procedure in the British Forces' to tattoo a blood group on you, that's what dog tags and your record sheet are for. As far as I'm aware, it wasn't even standard procedure in the Waffen SS to get it done, it was just extremely common in that unit and so it was a good (but not guaranteed) way for the Allies to check if POWs were, or were not SS. After all, the SS started out insisting you had to be Aryan to join, but by 1945 they were letting 13 year-old lads of any nationality into it, so they hardly had time to guarantee all procedures were followed to the letter. Nevertheless, that SS practice is probably what the screenwriters were thinking of, but most fictional writers will never let facts get in the way of a good story idea, so it's is more likely that they simply just tweaked the truth a bit to get an intriguing plot device, since most viewers will not be bothered if that is true or not.

 

I can tell you right now it IS uncommon, I have not once seen a blood group tattoo in the last decade.

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Or doors and walls in the bogs

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It is a hazard of the job - 100 blokes using about 5 showers and we never thought to buy a shower curtain

What happens when someone drops the soap?

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1950s was when they trialled tatoo'ing all US citizens with blood-group tattoos in Utah, in another one those hilarious 'duck-and-coverish' countermeasures for a soviet nuclear strike. they got to about 1000 people tattoo'd before deciding was pointless. was also the first use of a specific type of tattoo gun, and how i stumbled across the story.

 

I'm sure i've seen blood-group tattoos being used to identify a corpse as a specific brand of soldier in a terrible US military crime drama, JAG or something similar.

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