What is a Battledetective?

There is no Webster, Encyclopædia Britannica or Wikipedia definition of the term "battle detective". If we combine the definitions of Crime Scene Investigation, Battlefield and Forensic Science, this may be what a battledetective is:

"He who applies a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to the legal system on the location of a specific instance of combat in warfare between two or more parties wherein each group will seek to defeat the others."

We are of the opinion that "the legal system" can be replaced by "the general public".

Now, because of the condition that forensic research should be conducted, at best, under circumstances which won't influence the findings of the detective's efforts, it would be impossible to start an investigation while still under fire.

The illustration below is just to demonstrate what Battledetectives are not:

"Battledetectives examine the body of General Friedrich Kussin, the Orts Kommandant of Arnhem. Kussin was attempting to return to his Arnhem HQ from Wolfheze on the 17th September when his car ran into the 3rd Battalion's No.5 Platoon of the British 1st Airborne Division along Utrechtse Weg, who promptly riddled both car and passengers."

"Combat scene photographs taken moments before battledetectives started to cordone off the area and process the evidence."

(click here for more details of the Kussin shooting incident)

"A battledetective watches a victim of the May 7th, 1945 Amsterdam shooting incident being evacuated in a hand cart."
(See our Battle Study # 14 for details about this photograph)

Seriously, the detectives pictured here might have been federal agents handling counterespionage, counter sabotage, and other internal security and national defense investigations working for the Federal Bureau of Investigations in World War Two. But they would conduct their investigations only on American soil away from the combat areas.

What true Battledetectives are:

Not without a reason the pass to "Free travel in liberated areas of the Netherlands" issued to "Police Inspector of Eindhoven Matla" (battledetective Tom's Grandfather), issued on March 1, 1945 to do "political research work" (the Dutch post-occupation terminology for War Crimes Investigations) also stated: "Military operations permitting".


Battlefield researches are conducted well after the echo of the last shots fired, have died away.

That is is the time for commanders and (military) historians to start writing their After Action Reports and literature.


Because of that, the Big Picture of what happened will be preserved for prosperity.

Battledetectives, however, fill in the gaps of the reports and history books. They try to find the missing pieces of the puzzle. They try to answer questions such as: "What killed this soldier?",  "Who's item of equipment did we find on this location?" and "What happened here?".

By recording personal accounts, using scientific techniques and documenting results, battledetectives show that war is fought by individuals, not by battalions, regiments or divisions.

And they also show that war is ugly!


On May 4th 2007, on the day The Netherlands commemorate the people who died in World War Two, the report of what is called the "Last Investigation of War Crimes committed in World War Two in The Netherlands" was presented to the Mayor of the Municipality of West Maas en Waal.

The report describes the findings of an investigation by the Netherlands National Crime Squad ("Dienst Nationale Recherche") to the summary execution of 14 civilians in the town of Wamel by members of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) on September 20th,1944.

The investigating detectives provided Battledetective.com with a copy of the official report of this investigation, just hours before the official presentation. We were under orders not to disclose the report until after May 4th 2007!


Here is the report

The report is in the Dutch language. Click here for a summary in English.


To Battledetective.com, the investigative detectives Mosk and Waterman are true battle detectives to the letter!


Battle Detective's Standard of Investigative Quality

It is our purpose to find the truth, or to get as close to it as possible. Our case files are prepared as if to be presented in a criminal court. Therefore we set a high standard for the quality of our investigations and the effort we put in them to seek the truth and also to validate our discoveries.

An example of the latter can be found in our Battle Relic #10- file. In this case we put our own discovery on trial and conducted a false positive validation test.


BattleDetective.com is impressed by the research done by members of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (the acronym in Dutch is NIOD). In their 2003 investigation, researchers David Barouw and Gerrold van der Stroom intended to identify the person who betrayed the Amsterdam Anne Frank.


This is the investigation

in its English version!


Although conducted by civilian investigators, the research is of a quality level that Battledetective.com seeks to maintain. Although the traitor was not identified, this is how Barouw and Van der Stroom, concluded their report:


"Our investigation has not led us to the culprit. Is this the final verdict of the NIOD on the betrayal of Prinsengracht 263? No. In theory, it would be possible to carry out an investigation on a larger scale than ours, but we do not believe that that would necessarily lead to a better result.

 Unfortunately, we are bound to abide by what we concluded in 1986:

‘It will be impossible to reconstruct the actual events’.

Of course that is regrettable, because we would naturally have liked to unmask the culprit(s) in order to complete this part of the Anne Frank story. That is not what has happened. The possibility cannot be ruled out that new betrayal hypotheses will be advanced in the future. We shall have to wait and see whether these hypotheses will be based on source material."

This not only illustrates the limitations of criminal investigation, but also the professional pride of a good (battle) detective.


In 2016, the Anne Frank House published another theory on the arrest. After a two-year study, they suggested that the arrest may also have been a coincidence, as the raiding party could have been looking for something else and stumbled upon the people in the annex by accident.

Started in August 2017, retired FBI agent Vince Pankoke and a team of experts try to find the truth about the arrest of Anne Frank and the others utilizing cold case investigative techniques that have only been developed in the past decade. On August 4, 2019, exactly 75 years after the arrest of Anne Frank, Vince Pankoke wants to finish his diary in which he describes his discoveries of new sources, facts and conclusions about this ultimate cold case.


Investigative and Reporting Standard

Since January 1st, 2008, Battledetective.com conducts its investigations and prepares its reports of case files

in accordance with Chapter 14 of  War Department FM 19-20, dated April 1945



Do not mistake battle detectives with a job description written in a slightly different way. Although one of the friendly merchants on our links page sometimes nicknames us "bottle detectives", that term describes a completely different line of work.


This 1931 Modern Mechanix Magazine article explains:



(c) 2007-Present Day Battledetective.com. Email: tom@battledetective.com. all rights reserved.