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31520 Pte A. Duckett DCM, 9th Bn essex


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I recently acquired the medals of 31520 Pte A. Duckett of the 9th Bn Essex Regt. It would appear that he won the DCM at Cambrai in 1917 but then committed suicide in Octobe 1918 at Shoreham Camp in West Sussex, apparently whilst recovering from wounds. The death certificate notes that an inquest was held on 31st Oct 1918 by the Coroner for Sussex. Anyone got any idea if teh cornoers records would ahve survived and how I could get hold of a copy ?

Thanks for any information.


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DCM Citation LG 28-3-1918 (Published 26-3-1918)

31520 Pte. A. Duckett, Essex R. (Colchester).

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On the occasion of a bombing attack by the enemy he kept up a rapid rate of fire on the trench behind the hostile bombers, thus cutting off their supply of bombs. Later, he rendered great assistance in firing another gun on the enemy, who were advancing over the open from the flank, but who were completely repulsed by the intensity of the fire from this gun. His gallant behaviour, enterprise, and resource were worthy of the highest praise.



I found a Coroner's Report to one of my local men who died after returning from a POW camp in the local papers, but I would think it less likely they would print about a suicide Inquest.

Then again...


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Hi Simon & Steve,

I have the following information from Soldiers died in the Great War 1914 – 1919, Part 48, The Essex Regiment, 1921:

Duckett, Anselum, Pte. 31520,born in Colchester, enlisted in Colchester and died at Home 29/10/18. D.C.M.

Undoubtedly this is old news, but I wondered whether you have any idea when Pte. Duckett was wounded ?

I had a look at Burrows, The War 1914 – 1919, Volume 6, Service Battalions The Essex Regiments, 1935, for the Cambrai action in 1917 but cannot find any mention of him or the event he was awarded the D.C.M. for, alas...

What a tragic death for a brave man.


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I've been at Worthing reference library this morning, and have got the details of the inquest from the local newspaper. When I get my notes sorted later today, I'll post a transcript of the report.


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This is the report of the inquest from the Sussex Daily News, Friday 1st November 1918, page 2. Shoreham is one of those places that can fall in either East or West Sussex, but as in this case the Coroner was from West Sussex, any inquest papers [and there's a good chance they survive] will be held at the West Sussex Record Office:

West Sussex Record Office



An inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Anselm Moses Brunsdon Duckett, a soldier in the Essex Regiment attached to the Eastern Command Depot, was held at the Union at Shoreham, yesterday afternoon, by Mr. F. W. Butler, Coroner for West Sussex.

Abraham Duckett, 118 Harwich-road, Colchester, brother, identified the body. Deceased was a bricklayer and plasterer by trade, and in the Army held the rank of private, and was 38 years old. He had complained of pains round the heart since being wounded in the right side on 5th July. He had not been very well, being unable to keep his food down. Witness last heard from deceased on 24th October, when he wrote a cheerful letter.

Private James Barrett, Suffolk Regiment, said he went over to the washhouse at 6.20 in the morning, and saw deceased’s body hanging from a beam with a rope round the neck. He fetched some other men, and told the sergeant. He did not see the body cut down as he was too frightened.


Sergeant Arthur Evans, Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, said he was taking roll call at 6.20 on Wednesday morning when he saw Barrett running out of the washhouse as if he was very frightened. Witness went into the washhouse and saw a body hanging from a beam. He cut it down and sent for the Medical Officer. Deceased was quite dead. He was last seen at roll call the previous evening, in bed.

Sergeant Nicholls Morgan Luke, R.A.M.C., said that he went to the washhouse at 6.45 and the man was quite dead then.

Captain Henry Richard Hurry, R.A.M.C., said he saw deceased in the washhouse just before seven o’clock. The body was then on the floor, and was quite dead. The mark of the cord showed on the neck. Death was due to strangulation. There was nothing on deceased’s medical card to account for any mental defects, or any bad health. Deceased had been in Shoreham since September 10th.

Lieut. Richard Clarence Poole, King’s Own Regiment, said deceased was in his company. He was of a very quiet disposition, and a good soldier. He received the D.C.M. a week ago. Witness knew nothing which could account for him taking his life.

Questioned by the foreman of the jury, Lieut. Poole said he did not think there was any likelihood of deceased returning to France, so that could not have preyed on his mind.

The jury returned a verdict of ‘suicide by hanging during a fit of temporary insanity.’


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Details from the 1901 census:

At 40 Ipswich Road, Colchester

William Duckett 67 Self employed plumber/decorator b. Chelsea

Rhoda Duckett 60 b. Felstead Essex

Richard Duckett 37 Painter b. Colchester

Ellen R Duckett 34 Dressmaker b. Colchester

Anselm Duckett 20 Bricklayer's Apprentice b. Colchester

Jessie Duckett 18 Dressmaker b. Colchester

Evelyn Duckett 16 Railway Clerk b. Colchester

Evelyn would seem to be male - given as 'son.'

With those occupations they make a very useful family to know! Presumably there were other children between Ellen and Anselm, one of which was Abraham, named above.


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Sue, Michael & Steve

What an excellent piece of research into the very sad events surrounding this soldier.

The inquest did not have any real evidence about his state of mind, which makes it seem worse because obviously he had not been able to unburden himself to anyone. He is described as a quiet man.

There were references to him having pains, and also not being able to keep food down, but this was obviously not regarded as being of any consequence.

I am glad that, in acquiring the medals, Simon has brought him to our attention.


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You are a real Lady. I contributed zilch actually... :lol:

Perhaps I can contribute a tid bit of information from Burrows, Volume 6, page 104:

No mention of casualties for the July 5, 1915. (Very helpful indeed).

What really intrigues me is what is mentioned just above about a raid which turned out to have been a trap for the trappers.....It is not quite clear in my mind what the exact date is when this happened, but it close enough to the 5th.

Here is some pure speculation: what if Pte. Duckett was involved in this disaster and felt he had miserably failed somehow. A few months after this 'incident' he received his DCM and a week later he ends his life. Perhaps, for some reason, he didn’t think he was worthy of this medal.

No doubt I have an overactive mind, but I can’t help wondering if the health problems he was suffering from were induced by some sort of stress. ( As does Kate).

Cheers, Michael


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