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Remembered Today:

Self Inflicted Wound (death)


Sergeant Pepper
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Greetings, hoping someone may be able to solve a mystery.

Lt Selwyn Goldstein of the 173rd Company of the Royal Engineers died on 8.6.1917 (the day after the big blast at Messines) by SIW - according to his Medal Roll which I have sourced from Ancestry.

I am in Australia so waiting for a copy of his service record to arrive to see if there are any further details as to why he killed himself. He left behind a wife and four small children. He is buried at Poperinghe with a headstone (with RE crest on it).

Is his UK service record likely to give details of his death? I am imagining that there wouldn't have been much time for an inquest????

Any other suggestions as to where to look for info on SIW's suicides greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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SP

I dont know about officers but where I've been lucky enough to find the service records for ORs and they died by SIW, there are depositions in the record from his colleagues and the R.A.M.C. officer called etc.

Not saying ALWAYS but I have at least 3 such records,

Regards,

Graeme

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Thanks Graeme, that's encouraging!

Family history relates that he shot himself.

I wonder if he was shell-shocked after the devastation from the night before when the RE blew up Messines.

Are you studying SIW per chance? If so would love any thoughts you might have.

Thanks

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Could SIW refer to wounds sustained accidentally during live-ammunition training? How would such a death be recorded?

Rob.

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Hello SP

173 Co RE was one of the tunnelling companies, and it may be that he suffered an attack of conscience after the death toll caused by the Messines mines, or he may have been close to one of the explosions and suffered something like shell-shock. Shooting himself - if that is what he did - would be an understandable reaction in either case.

As Graeme has said, it is likely that his officer's service record contains some record of the circumstances, such as a Board of Inquiry. There would not have been an inquest in the sense we know it today, but the Board's report would perform a similar service.

Rob - in those curcumstances I think the cause of death would be given as "accident", "accidental explosion" or similar. I doubt it would be regarded as a SIW unless the evidence showed it was a deliberate act. A tunneller would be unlikely to be exercising with live ammunition, though ammonal could be far more deadly!

Ron

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A transcription of the form to be completed in all cases of accidental or self-inflicted injuries

Army Form W. 3428

REPORT ON accidental OR SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES

To be rendered in accordance with instructions on the back of this form

1. Number, Rank, Name, and Unit of injured man. Date of Casualty.

2. Nature, Location, and Severity of injury. (N.B. Field Ambulance to be notified at once if wound is believed to be self-inflicted.)

3. Short statement of the circumstances of the case. (Signed statements of witnesses to be attached to this form.)

4. Commanding officer's opinion as to whether the man was:-

a. In the performance of military duty.

b. To blame.

c. Whether any other person was to blame.

Date--------- Commanding-------------

5. a. Opinion of G.O.C. Brigade.

b. Disciplinary action taken or proposed, whether against injured man or another.

Date------------- Commanding Brigade

___________________________________________________________________________-

Continued Overleaf.

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6. To----------------------Army "A"

Forwarded with reference to my Casualty Wire No.-------------------dated------------------------

Date----------------------------- --------------------Division

______________________________________________________________________________

7. To D.A.G.

G.H.Q. 3rd Echelon.

Forwarded for record. This casualty should be reported as---------------------------------------------------

Date-------------------- ---------------------------------Army

__________________________________________________________________________________

INSTRUCTIONS

1. These forms are to be completed in all cases of accidental or self-inflicted injuries, involving a soldier's absence from duty, whether due to the man's own act, or that of a comrade, or to other extraneous circumstances.

2. Where several casualties occur as the result of one accident, one form is to be completed for each Officer or other rank injured, but only one set of statements from the witnesses of the accident need be attached.

3. Full statements are to be taken by an Officer from the witnesses of the accident. These statements will be signed by the witnesses making them, and by the Officer who takes them, and will be forwarded with this Form. When it is intended to take disciplinary action, copies of these statements should be retained by the Unit for use in lieu of a summary of evidence.

4. Where it is possible to obtain it, a statement from the injured man will also be forwarded. This, however, should not be used as evidence against him in any subsequent disciplinary proceedings.

Special Instructions as to Evidence in Cases of Self-Inflicted Wounds.

5. In these cases the statements mentioned in paragraphs 2 and 3 above should bring out all material points, e.g. statements to the effect that the witness was with the accused standing on the fire step (or sitting in the dug-out) ; that the accused was cleaning his rifle ; position of safety catch, magazine, etc., if known ; muzzle of rifle on toe of foot ; hand on muzzle ; that accused pulled trigger ; that the rifle was afterwards examined and an empty cartridge case was found in chamber ; that accused was seen to be wounded ; what accused said ("I have shot myself," "I did not know it was loaded," etc.).

6. A soldier is specially trained in the safe use of his rifle and revolver, and evidence of any neglect of the ordinary precautions as to their handling in such cases usually has considerable bearing on the question of negligence. In cases of wilful self-wounding the fullest possible evidence should be obtained ; unless the evidence is conclusive this charge should not be used. The charge will therefore usually be laid under sec. 40 Army Act - "Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in wounding himself through negligently handling a rifle," and an alternative charge to this effect should be made, even if the accused is to be tried under section 18 for wilful maiming.

W8573-M2732 200,000 9/17 HWV(P1655) Forms W. 3428/1

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I don't know if the form in #7 and #8 was used for accidents involving officers. I suspect not??

It was used when my Grandfather (a Driver) was accidentally injured by a horse.

CGM

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I don't know if the form in #7 and #8 was used for accidents involving officers. I suspect not??

Hello CGM

If you look at the "Instructions" in Post #8, number 2 implies that it covered both officers and ORs.

Ron

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Thank you Ron.

I'm having to re-think the way I read the form!

(I read it as a form for ORs and there was the possibility that if the accident suffered (or staged) by the OR caused injury to others it could include injury to an officer.)

CGM

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CGM,

Fantastic find. Does anyone know where these Army Form W. 3428s ended-up after being filled-in? Where were they deposited and are there any still around in regimental archives / NA ?

Simon

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I transcribed the form from my Grandfather's service records. It's a certified copy.

He was a (Pvte.) Driver and his foot was injured by a horse in the stables at Messines. He walked on it for about 3 months before being unable to walk any more.

The form is a dark sort of beige colour and it includes a blank covering sheet, on which has been typed:

For Officer i/c Records

STATEMENTS OF EVIDENCE

So, in answer to your question, the original was sent to "Records".

My Grandad was in the AIF so although the AIF used standard forms the way they stored the original copies may vary.

Apart from the beige pages there's also a white, typed sheet.

EVIDENCE.

Statement of Evidence:

1st Witness.

It's a statement from a Sergeant (Driver).

There's a 3rd beige sheet which was not filled in because my Grandfather's case was not taken beyond the first two pages, as his injury was ruled accidental at that stage.

I'll see if I can attach it or put a link to it.

(Please allow 28 working days for delivery).

CGM

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Thanks everyone - I'll look forward to seeing what his service record contains:

ss002d6252 - Yep I am all over Trove ;)

Ron Clifton - that's exactly what I was thinking most likely too!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to let you know that the copy of his service record arrived today and includes a fulsome report on the circumstances surrounding Lt Selwyn Goldstein's death by SIW. It was an intentional death - gunshot wound behind the ear by his own revolver. Sad.

Anyrate, for anyone else reading these boards in future, it's worth ordering the records.

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I have found in any and all cases of the men I am researching, a copy or at least a viewing of the service records is a must. I am lucky in that I primarily research Canadian personnel and their records survive. I have yet to research a British Soldier and have his records survive.

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I have found in any and all cases of the men I am researching, a copy or at least a viewing of the service records is a must. I am lucky in that I primarily research Canadian personnel and their records survive. I have yet to research a British Soldier and have his records survive.

My experience has been that it is easier to find dead guys' records than the live guys. (who survived the war)

hazel

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Hazel, in relation to WWII yes, a soldier who died during the war, his records are open. If the soldier survived WWII, then it can be a bit more difficult. You must prove death more than 20 years. I am not certain if there has been a chance but I do recall getting records for those who died less than 20 years, but the records were sanitized of all personal information, address, medical etc.

WWI Service records are all open to the public. These were the files I was referring to as this is a WWI Forum. My luck with WWI British Service Records was ZERO for SIX so I changed my collecting and research focus.

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What I meant was that i have had more success finding service records for people who were killed(WW!) than those who survived the war and some Bns. records seem to have a higher rate of survival than others.

Hazel

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I did some research recently on a local soldier who died on 11/11/18 and who is commemorated in the graveyard at the end of the street up from my office.

Luckily, his service records survived and in them is a copy of the form outlined above. It was completed about the accident in which he and 3 others died (basically, he forgot to take a grenade out of his jerkin, threw it down and boom).

The record also includes all the witness statements, officers comments and other info. Through it I was able to find that he was born and lived at one end of this street, is commemorated on the war memorial a few yards from his house up the street, has a CWGC headstone in the cemetery a further 100 yards up the road and - this being the scary bit - actually WORKED IN THE BUILDING I WORK IN, at the far end of the same street. I only researched him in the first place because I saw the headstone a few years ago and noticed the date of death...

The other fascinating thing is you get the impression reading through the paperwork that the military decided his family should be simply told he died a hero, fighting for his country, not as the result of a stupid accident for which he was blamed in the enquiry. So it looks like they never knew the real circumstances. Don't know if that was standard procedure or not. but it seemed rather kind given the situation.

If anyone wants to see a scan of the Statements of Evidence form as outlined above, pm me.

Kind regards

Ian

Edited by eairicbloodaxe
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So it looks like they never knew the real circumstances. Don't know if that was standard procedure or not. but it seemed rather kind given the situation.

I have details of a group of cooks who accidentally gassed themselves in a cellar, the wife of one of them who wrote to the war office disputing the verdict of death by natural causes so somewhere along the line she must have been given the reasons behind his death.

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  • 1 year later...

I have written about Selwyn Goldstein at http://ayfamilyhistory.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/p-is-for-poperinghe-new-military.html . I appreciate Sergeant Pepper drawing my attention to the annotation on the medal card and sharing the findings of the record. I looked at the medal card but overlooked the annotation of S-I-W. Goldstein's obituaries do not mention the circumstances of his death - although the obituary by the school mentions he was killed by a bullet wound but reports "In conveying the news to his widow his commanding officer said he was a "brave and loyal soldier, and a keen and conscientious worker.""

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  • 3 years later...
On 18/04/2013 at 03:13, Sergeant Pepper said:

Lt Selwyn Goldstein of the 173rd Company of the Royal Engineers died on 8.6.1917 (the day after the big blast at Messines) by SIW - according to his Medal Roll which I have sourced from Ancestry.

 

That one clearly says "Died 8-6-17 S.I.W.". I was checking to see if it had "the mark" which I describe below.

 

I have a puzzle case on a Leinster Regiment Captain (William George Henry Bates), interestingly for me originally from Canada, who died on 26 April 1915. He was born in Thornhill, Ontario CANADA on 12 October 1878. Interestingly, he is not listed on the Canadian VIrtual War Memorial, as he should be if he was born in Canada. There are numerous other examples of Officers that were born in Canada but served in the British forces in the Great War who are remembered on the memorial. I will see that the records are updated.

 

The records (war diary page 453 of 907) refers to his death by name and reports only one (1) Officer of the regiment killed that day. The record is marked with this symbol and wording:

 

image.png.f973e98e64530a76c28a2b4a1d74db0e.png self inflicted

 

I could not find anything else in the records to indicate what happened, however when I checked here British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 it says under REMARKS "K. in A. 26.4.15". Then beside each of the listed medals it has the same mark, the X with the four dots, as shown in the war diary. Was that symbol a known, or perhaps secretive notation, to record that a death was self inflicted? Has anyone seen such a mark elsewhere in the SIW investigations?

 

I think I have solved the puzzle! There were two others in the regiment that died that day that are not recorded (CWGC Link). I noticed that the pages prior to and after the war diary record when the Captain is recorded have the words "Other Ranks" immediately above the table. That particular page did not so I assumed it referred to Captain Bates. One of the men (Private Tormey) died of wounds and so it was probably not recorded in the war diary in the field, as he was well behind the lines. He may have been wounded days before. The other man (Private Byrne) was the man who died of the SELF INFLICTED WOUNDS, as so recorded on this MIC (see here). It appears to say "D of MJS (S.I.)". Interestingly, it has the same "X with four dots" on the record. NOW THE NEW QUESTION - did Private Byrne also shoot Captain Bates in the head? Is that why his record has the same markings? The Captains death is reported in the text of the records (war diary page 203 of 693) but there is no reference to any action that caused his death. He may just have been sniped, but then they usually record that in the war diary.

 

There is a copy of this entry in the UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 in a cached google page from when his medals were purchased at auction on 29 March 2000 (see here). It appears this is the same entry on the web:

 

WGHBates%20Obit%20from%20De%20Ruvigny's%

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