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Remembered Today:

post war suicides


jay dubaya

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Hi folks

I met with an old friend last week and she had only just recently discovered that her Great Grandfather had committed suicide in 1930, he left a note for his wife and children took himself of to the garden shed and drank some form of acid. The pain and the nightmares became too much in the end. I don't know any service details at present other than he served on the Western Front and remained after the Armistice and may have been involved in battlefield clearance.

Are there any available facts and figures of ex-servicemen who committed suicide post war? Any help would be very much appreciated,

cheers, Jon

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This very emotive subject has been touched on and debated in quite a few threads. It should be remembered if you decide to investigate further, that attempted suicide was illegal. Figures for this are extremely tentative since sympathetic treatment would mean that it was not recorded as an attempted suicide. Similarly, a verdict of suicide could affect payment of assurance policies. Again, the figures will be skewed by verdicts by sympathetic juries at coroners inquests. A different system prevailed in Scotland so any enquiry will need to take account of that. Suicide was a completely unacceptable and socially abhorrent act and as such, was hushed up as much as possible.

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If you can post some more information, like his name I will have a look in my research (I've accumulated quite a lot of information on post-war suicides).

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2332 Sgt Harry Flood MM & bar,1/1st Cambridgeshire Regt TF;who had lost his arm @ the shoulder committed suicide in the 1930s when his "erstwhile" wife ran off with a Northamptonshire County Cricketer.

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If you can post some more information, like his name I will have a look in my research (I've accumulated quite a lot of information on post-war suicides).

Is 13/11/1918 too early to check? Lt William Mercer with the RASC in Salonika. His MIC confirms SIW and I am trying to obtain the death certificate to see if that sheds any light, of course it may have been accidental so there may be nothing to find.

Cheers,

Rob

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Thanks for the replies folks, as and when I find out more details I'll let you know

cheers, Jon

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Is 13/11/1918 too early to check? Lt William Mercer with the RASC in Salonika. His MIC confirms SIW and I am trying to obtain the death certificate to see if that sheds any light, of course it may have been accidental so there may be nothing to find.

Rob,

GRO is Mercer / William / T Lt / RASC / 1918 / 0.13 / 118

From GRO WAR DEATHS ARMY OFFICERS INDICES (1914 to 1921)

Grant

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From 'I Was There 'Published 1938 -

The War's Bill to Humanity, by C.A.Lyon

Do you know that there are still nearly one million people suffering directly

from the war!

One Briton in fifty is still a war victim.

Here are some thought provoking figures:

442,000 men are still living so maimed , gassed, nerve-racked,or otherwise ruined in health

that they can not work or can only work wth diminished efficiency, and are partly or wholly dependent on the State for money to live.

127,000 widows still mourn men they last saw in khakisome day in the years 1914 and 1918.

224,000 parents and other dependents are still suffering through the loss of sons or relatives who were their

breadwinners, and have to be helped by the State.

Only detailed figures can give an idea of the suffering that the Great War is still causing today in this twentieth year of the peace.

Below are given estimated figures from the Ministry of Pensions.

They do not include the thousands of less seriously injured who conceal their wounds as best they can and make no claim.

As for the thousands of seriously injured, they are seldom seen on the streets.

There are 6,000 men with one or both legs amputated and 3000 with one or both arms amputated, a total of nearly 12,000

men who have lost limbs.

There are 90,000 men with impaired arms and legs not serious enough for, or curable by amputation.

There are 15,000 head injuries many of whom have to wear a metal plate to

protect them.

11,000 are deaf, 7,000 suffer from hernia, 2,200 suffer from the effects of frost-bite.

32,009 suffer from wounds not officially classed. These are the wounded!

100,000 men are afflicted with diseases too numerous to mention.

41,000 suffer from chest complaints brought on by gassing.

30,000 suffer from heart disease brought on by strain or carrying heavy loads.

28,000 suffer rheumatism severe enough to convince the not-too-easily persuaded Ministry of Pensions doctors.

25,000 suffer nervous disorders (shell shock)

2,800 are epileptic and 3,200 are in asyloms their minds broken.

A great army of doctors, nurses, masseurs, artificial limb makers, ocu;ists and hospital staffs

still work to make life more tolerable for the worst war wounded.

There are 14,000 men with un-healed wounds who still have to have medical tratment.

One man celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the end of the war by having his hand amputated as the result of a wound which had given him pain all these years.

2,000 men are still in-patients in special war victims hospitals and 1,200 out-patients. doubtless there are more in General hospitals.

Each year thousands of pounds worth of apparatus and service are still needed.

Men come back to hospital year after year to have a little more cut off an amputated limb.

Each year 24,000 new surgical appliances, 4,000 new artificial arms and legs, 3,800 new artificial eyes,

25,000 bacteriological or pathological tests are still needed.

To pay pensions costs £40,000,000 per year or 110,000 per week. One shilling in every pound (1/20th) is

used to keep the war victims.

The eventual cost is estimated at £2,000,000,000. Now this £2bn - which no one grudges and most would like to

see increased - really represents payments to the war victims of wages for work which they or their dead breadwinners

would have done had they not been killed or incapacitated.

The £2bn ' wages 'will be paid but the work will never be done - and we are all poorer as a result.

(The article ends ) Yet men talk and dream and plan a still greater war. Truly there is no limit to human folly.

From the above some must have taken the ultimate way out and you can't blame them.

Aye

Malcolm

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Aye indeed Malcom.

Very powerful and passionate.

I have medals to two Australians who committed suicide during the war - one a well seasoned corporal in late 1918, the other a raw recruit who didn't see action and topped himself on joining his battalion after they came out of Pozieres. Also have medals to another two who spent the remainder of their lives in a mental asylum. It's the major reason I'm fascinated with WW1 - it makes all my own problems insignificant compared to that generation.

Len

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Hi Malcolm. An interesting article with a revealing collection of facts and figures. This was very typical of a large number of articles in pamphlets, periodicals and magazines in the years between the wars. This was the rationalisation of the ' peace at any price' faction. There was no gainsaying these facts and it took a very tough individual to argue that there was a need to prepare for another war. The public mood was anti-war and it was in this atmosphere that criticism of not only war in general but the last war in particular and the generals who had been in command was able to flourish. Certain politicians who had formed a wartime government were happy to add to the criticism of the generals or at least remain silent as to why they had not pressed for peace. The myth that the generals were responsible for the war and had fought it badly was a handy shelter for those individuals. There is a strong connection between this thread and the 'Butcher' thread running elsewhere on the Forum at the moment.

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Hi Tom,

It is a typical 1938 Peace in our time article but the figures speak for themselves. Politicians change with whichever way the wind blows.

Aye

Malcolm

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Over 192,000 widows' pensions had been granted by 1921, including provision for over 344,000 children.

In 1921, some 1.1 million men were in receipt of disability pensions 36,400 men being considered to have 100 per cent disability but this figure had climbed to 2.4 million by 1929.

There were still 3,000 limbless survivors of the war in Britain in 1977 and still 27,000 men living in receipt of disability pensions in 1980.

Here is a list of servicemen who have committed suicide after service in WW1 in no particular order:

31712 dvr Leonard Davis RFA 3rd May 1926.

Capt Frederick John Blackburn RFA 22nd July 1926.

7407 Pte Harry Halliwell Manch Regt 20th Oct 1927.

Lt Augustine Joseph McConn RDF 25th June 1927.

950915 Dvr Alfred Charles Edwards RFA 8th March 1930.

2/Lt A.H. Arkell Sussex Regt 24th May 1929.

Lt R.M.Jones MGC. 9th July 1930.

Surgeon Sub/Lt William Edward Mason RNVR 29th May 1931.

Lt Ernest Alban Stubbs RASC 1st June 1931.

243131 Richard Sayers LC 28th Dec 1931.

2712 Williams Thomas McWilliams Cheshire Regt 24th Oct 1931.

Frederick William Buckley ASC 8th March 1932.

295593 Pte John McPartland RAF 13th July 1932.

Capt James Menzies RAMC 26th Dec 1926.

Arnold Law RFA 11th April 1932.

360 Pte James Johnston R Ir Rifles 4th June 1932.

Gnr John Francis Elias Le Roux RFA 2nd Nov 1935.

19574 Pte , Walter John Peters RAMC 27th Dec 1935.

242777 Cpl Richard Bowes LNLR 14th March 1935.

278645 Sapper Thomas Ernest Watkiss RE 30th Aug 1936.

20799 John Frederick Victor Tyers Leicester Regt 5th June 1937.

Ezra Flather DOW/RAMC 2nd Sept 1937.

WR/10130 Pnr , Frederick Phillip Van RE 11th Nov 1937.

7145 RSM Issec Robinson DCM NF 27th Jan 1939.

240640 Pte William James Cox Devonshire Regt 21st April 1939.

Maj William Hayland Wilson RAF 9th Nov 1939.

252103 2nd Cpl , Samuel James Sprott RE 6th Nov 1939

58112 Pte William Marsh WYR 7th Sept 1918.

37608 Pte Harry Barrows R. Warwickshire Regt 1st Oct 1917.

135818 Dvr , Henry Green RGA 27th Nov 1917.

WR/43739 Cpl William A.Holmes RE 27th Jan 1920. ( he disappeared on this date was found in the river in the river Derwent).

Lt G.L. Gay RASC 1921.

Artificer Engineer Joseph Mourice Manton (HMS Bulwark) Sept 23rd 1914.

17304 Pte Williams Littler LF Nov 1917 (France).

18417 Pte John Thomas Uttley WYR 16th Feb 1924.

28852 Spr Henry Conn RE 23rd Aug 1924.

46105 Pte Horace Hackett Manch Regt 25th April 1925.

31474 Airman ME.Dibben RAF 5th Jan 1925.

241041 Pte Adam Spencer ELR 7th Jan 1925.

6513 Gnr Michael Bennett RGA 23rd Jan 1925.

101752 Pte John William Easton Kings (Liverpool) Regt 25th Sept 1925.

16626 Pte Edward Brown SG 14th April 1925.

WR/274907 Spr William Paterson RE 4th June 1925.

58127 Pte Harry Coyne RAMC 9th June 1925.

43145 Pte Sidney I Barns RF 13th July 1925.

SS/7726 Pte Robert Ewart Butler RASC 21st July 1925.

Capt Phillip Hotson Cheek Lon Regt 28th Dec 1925.

I will post some more names Later.

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Over 192,000 widows' pensions had been granted by 1921, including provision for over 344,000 children.

In 1921, some 1.1 million men were in receipt of disability pensions 36,400 men being considered to have 100 per cent disability but this figure had climbed to 2.4 million by 1929.

There were still 3,000 limbless survivors of the war in Britain in 1977 and still 27,000 men living in receipt of disability pensions in 1980.

Here is a list of servicemen who have committed suicide after service in WW1 in no particular order:

.................................

I will post some more names Later.

Why? You don't feel that this is an unwarranted intrusion into the personal and private affairs of the families concerned? What purpose is there to publicising the names?

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These servicemen are entitled to be remembered just like anyone else who lost their lives in the First World War, all of their names are in the public domain.

What gives you the right to decide who is to be remembered and who isn't, I also didn't realise that there's parts of research on the first world war according to you I should keep quiet about.

I suppose you're another one of these who looks at WW1 with rose-tinted glasses.

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I asked you what purpose there was to publishing the names of men who had committed suicide. In what way is that remembering them? I think there is always a tension between legitimate research and respecting privacy. Have you approached any of the families to see how they feel about you publishing this information? I fail to see the parallel between commemorating the death of a man killed in war or died of wounds and publishing the fact that a man committed suicide. Many were civilians and ended their lives after the war. It is at least questionable that all of those men took the action they did because of their war experience.

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All of these servicemen were entitled to some degree of a war pension, as for

"Have you approached any of the families to see how they feel about you publishing this information?"

know I have not approached any of the families to publish this information, as said in my last post all of this information is in the public domain.

Are you now, implying that anyone doing any research into servicemen's deaths in a war or, after should get the consent of the deceased's family.

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There's some staggering figures there to digest, it never occured to me that war pensions would still be paying out in 1980s.

I'd be interested to know how many of those suicides can be directly attributed to war service, but I guess each will have a link to the soldiers experiences in one way or another. How many names do you have in your research?

I realise that this may be a difficult topic to discuss which touches on very personal emotive experiences that may still affect people today and I thank you all for your imput, t'is much appreciated.

cheers, Jon

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My own great grandfather committed suicide in 1928. Nothing to do with the war. I have all the terrible details and am looking to find where he is buried. It is extremely difficult as it seems that even by that date, suicides were not buried in consecrated ground. This got me thinking: many suicides in the forces during the war must be buried in CWGC cemeteries. What was the attitude of the Church to that? What twists of logic (or illogic) lead to a soldier who killed himself being buried in a respected and identified war grave, and my civilian GGF being untraceable and probably in an unmarked grave?

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My own great grandfather committed suicide in 1928. Nothing to do with the war. I have all the terrible details and am looking to find where he is buried. It is extremely difficult as it seems that even by that date, suicides were not buried in consecrated ground. This got me thinking: many suicides in the forces during the war must be buried in CWGC cemeteries. What was the attitude of the Church to that? What twists of logic (or illogic) lead to a soldier who killed himself being buried in a respected and identified war grave, and my civilian GGF being untraceable and probably in an unmarked grave?

Chris - Hopefully a rhetorical question as any detailed response (from me anyway) would certainly fall foul of forum rule 1. 'Discussions and posts on religion will not be tolerated in any area of the forum' & quite possibly 2. 'You will not make any statements that could be construed as defamatory of an individual, group or business'

However, setting aside my personal thoughts on the church/suicide debate, I can confirm through my research I have come across a serving soldier who committed suicide whilst at home & who was buried in consecrated ground at the local cemetary rather than what I assume is the non consecrated area (which contains non Christian burials)

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Over 10 years ago now, in the days when there was no internet to pillage and you had to queue up to at the National Archive to get access to one MIC at a time, I compiled a book on the war dead of Cheltenham. Information was hard to come by - you had to work a lot more and be prepared to travel to get at it than today.

Just prior to sending the manuscript to the printers there was a knock on the door which proved to be an old couple who had heard about what I was doing and who were interested in the information I had collected on their relative. I was able to give them details ie that he had commited suicide in Bristol while on leave (I had the full details but was not going to publish them). On hearing the information the old lady visibly paled and asked where the information came from - in short from openly available sources.

It seems that the suicide was a family skeleton and they implored that his suicide should not be mentioned in the book. After a period of reflection with a colleague it was decided to bow to their wishes as we had no intention of publishing material that knowingly would be distressing to any individual.

The entry for the soldier was changed to simply died in the UK - a phrase which in essence is not incorrect but non the less is economical with the fuller truth which was a matter of public record.

Ten years on I am not convinced that we made the correct decision (almost all of the relatives who may have had primary knowledge of the individual are now dead and those that remain are probably less sensitive to the issue) - however it was the correct decision at the time. The irony is that we cannot remember the name of the soldier as all of our research notes including original photos etc were accidentally burnt by the printers post publication.

So what is my point?

For what it's worth 10 years ago I would have sided with truthergw but today I side with themonsstar

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Over 10 years ago now, in the days when there was no internet to pillage and you had to queue up to at the National Archive to get access to one MIC at a time, I compiled a book on the war dead of Cheltenham. Information was hard to come by - you had to work a lot more and be prepared to travel to get at it than today.

Just prior to sending the manuscript to the printers there was a knock on the door which proved to be an old couple who had heard about what I was doing and who were interested in the information I had collected on their relative. I was able to give them details ie that he had commited suicide in Bristol while on leave (I had the full details but was not going to publish them). On hearing the information the old lady visibly paled and asked where the information came from - in short from openly available sources.

It seems that the suicide was a family skeleton and they implored that his suicide should not be mentioned in the book. After a period of reflection with a colleague it was decided to bow to their wishes as we had no intention of publishing material that knowingly would be distressing to any individual.

The entry for the soldier was changed to simply died in the UK - a phrase which in essence is not incorrect but non the less is economical with the fuller truth which was a matter of public record.

Ten years on I am not convinced that we made the correct decision (almost all of the relatives who may have had primary knowledge of the individual are now dead and those that remain are probably less sensitive to the issue) - however it was the correct decision at the time. The irony is that we cannot remember the name of the soldier as all of our research notes including original photos etc were accidentally burnt by the printers post publication.

I side with themonstar too. War touches us all and radiates out and through the generations. I'm sure we can never imagine the numbers of soldiers that committed suicide after WWI. The list printed is undoubtedly not remotely close to the actual figure.

In a modern example, Viet Nam, 58,000 American soldiers were killed in Viet Nam. Since 1975, over 120,000 Viet Nam veterans have committed suicide. They should be honoured as well as those who lived on.

Bonfire

So what is my point?

For what it's worrth 10 years ago I would have sided with truthergw but today I side with themonsstar

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Thanks for the continued imput folks, I'm still waiting on the details of the man in question. Looking through my local papers of the period 1914-1921 there were a number of suicides in the county, several were new soldiers who hadn't seen overseas service, a retired Major who was rejected because of his age and also a number of farm hands who had attended or were due to attend tribunals with regards to being called up for active service. There is also at least one case of a widow committing suicide a few weeks after learning of her husbands death whilst serving in France. I haven't yet looked into local suicides that were committed post war that may have direct connections with war service.

Jon

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