Friday, 21 August 2015
Death caused by shell shock?
In the Dunfermline Journal and Advertiser for West Fife 100 years ago this weekend
(Unfortunately the Saturday August 14 and 21 1915 issues have not survived so I will stick to the Saturday August 7 1915 issue for 1 more week):
Death of a Kingseat Scots Guardsman
A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was returned at a St Pancras, London inquest on Saturday regarding the death of Alexander Sharpe 37 a private in the 3rd (reserve) battalion of the Scots Guards whose home was stated to be at Kingseat, Dunfermline and who was found dying in an express train from Edinburgh.
Mary Rose Sharpe the widow stated that her husband had a nervous breakdown while serving at the front and returned to England from France early in the month. He had been on furlough at home until Monday when he left for London travelling first to Edinburgh. He was not in his right mind since he returned home and was always holding his hand. He was a broken-down man and paid no attention to his family although he was an affectionate father and husband.
The coroner read the following letter from the deceased which was found in his pocket - I beg to inform you that I have been done by the colliery doctor. I am taken by the hand by the red cross which are getting me examined by the profession. Everyone who is fooled in life by expert fools.
In reply to the coroner the witness added that her husband ought to have left home on Thursday the 22nd inst but was too ill to travel.
Detective Sergeant Bateman of the Great Northern Railway Company's Police stated that on the arrival of the 11.10pm train at Kings Cross from Edinburgh on Monday his attention was directed to a third-class carriage where he saw the deceased lying on his left side in the corridor. There were wounds in his throat but the bleeding had stopped. Seeing that he was alive the winess roused him and asked him what he had done it for to which the deceased replied - I have been drove to it by the military authorities. When asked whar he had inflicted the injury with he answered a razor. A razor was subsequently found in his pocket. The deceased was removed to the Royal Free Hospitral.
Dr Austin Williams of the hospital stated that the deceased expired a couple of hours after his admission. The post-mortem examination showed that there were 6 wounds in the left side of the neck and 4 on the right and the external jugular vein was severed. Death was due to shock and exhaustion consequent on self-inflicted injuries.
[I'm not going to comment too much on this as it is self-explanatory and extremely tragic. However I would suggest the cause of death was obviously actually whatever he had experienced at the front line and I am surprised that the coroner didn't call any of his military superiors to find out what he had experienced that led to his breakdown].
Tune in next week to see what happened in Dunfermline next week 100 years ago ..........
Blog written by Jacqueline Hunter of Ancestral Research by Jacqueline, Dunfermline, Scotland. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help you with your family history research.