Sunday, 24 February 2019

Diagnosing Dissenters: More case-notes for the 'insane' First World War COs

From WO363 files, the 'Burnt Documents

1, Alexander Robert Cook, 1877-1919, a schoolteacher from Shetland. 
     Service no. 3776 

What was said - 

Lt. Col. RAMC Officer in Charge:
"...  has suffered from hallucinations of hearing, [and] his judgment is most greatly impaired. He is [quite] incapable of understanding his position, and [has] an abnormally high opinion of his own knowledge [and] capacity. He is quite unfit for military service [of] any kind."

[Tran]sferred to Dykebar War Hospital, Paisley.  [6-3-19]

Hospital [signature unclear]:
"[Initially?] he showed mental instability poor reasoning & judgment & rambling conversation. During past [?] days not so well as usual..."
{Brief medical details - ref. to 'pyelitis', a kidney infection, and 'Health [originally] good but slight physical training required' - elsewhere on file.]
"Died rather suddenly 13-6-19."

2. Richard Elsworth, 1889-1956, a Baker and Weaver from Barnoldswick.
    Service no. 1435

From Army record -
Court Martial, Prison, "Certified insane", Asylum, Discharged "no longer fit"
'Sectioned' -

"... to the County Asylum at Leicester under Section 2 of the Criminal Lunatics Acts 1884..."

"A representation from his mother is enclosed" -
 (no copy surviving on the file).

A note from the Medical Superintendent of Leicester Asylum
"He is not dangerous to the public, but he is quiet and well behaved,
and has been under our care."

Home Office to War Office:

"... I am to say that if the sentence passed by Court Martial in this case has been remitted and the man has consequently ceased to be a Criminal Lunatic, his subsequent detention in the Asylum would be illegal and might place the Superintendent in a difficult position. The matter is one of extreme urgency..."

Such (ex-)prisoners could only
be discharged from an asylum 'by order of the Secretary of State'. Since this happened in several cases, they presumably ceased to be 'lunatic' when they ceased to be 'criminal'.

And in another file series -
WO364 Proceedings on discharge (10pp.)
NCC. Military character: Not assessed, no information.
Delusional insanity: Constitutional. Casualty form – Active Service on file.
"When in Leicester prison, he says on one occasion in his cell soot came through grate covering floor of room, thought he was gassed and still thinks so – on other occasions he felt he had some message to deliver & began to harangue an imaginary audience – on 17th May was shouting & violently excited singing & praying …. 23/5 since, has been wildly excited & incoherent – now talks volubly & considers he has a message to deliver. Still thinks he was gassed… " - Medical Board.

3. Bertie French, born 1897, an Upholsterer from Haverhill in Suffolk
Service No. 2696

A letter from Albert C. French
re. Bertie's exemption from combatant service (ECS)
*I hope there will be no Illtreatment as he is a Genuine lad."

"Transferred to Parkside Asylum, Macclesfield, as incapable of managing his own affairs."

(No details of his mental condition are to be found on the file.)

4. Aneurin Morgan, born 1893, a Hosier & Draper from Port Talbot

Service No. 35941

Court Martial, Prison, Certified, Discharged
"Certified insane whilst undergoing sentence of imprisonment at H. M. Prison Liverpool & removed to Rainhill Asylum."

5. Frank Piper, born 1884, a Carpenter and Wheelwright from St.Agnes, Cornwall

Service No. 4054
Disclaimer: Discharged physically unfit -
Disability not to be taken into account for army pension
"Originated July 1917 at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. Not result of and not aggravated by service. Minimum duration 3 mths. Totally prevents [military service] for three months."

Disability: Auditory Hallucinations & Mania
Statement of Case - "States that while in Prison, he felt the unnatural discipline, & he felt nervous. He says that he was put to work at his own work in prison, but that he was quite unable to do it. He then began to hear peculiar, terrifying voices which he says came from home."

A hopeful prognosis
"He is showing signs of improvement. He now states that the voices & sounds from home were imagination, He is however somewhat indifferent to his surroundings.
The Medical Superintendent states that in his opinion, the man will soon make an excellent recovery."

On an optimistic assessment, Frank may just possibly have been lucky enough to hit or chance upon a comparatively painless way of combining principles with survival, and have found some sympathisers in the medical profession.

6. George Hegarty Ramsay, born 1890, an Artist from Chelsea
Service No. 1236

Medical History

Sunday, 17 February 2019

'Insane' First World War COs continued: Some case notes and comments

Edited extracts from the Pearce Register:
Conscientious Objectors deemed to have been insane

I or J Baker Address: Barnes
  • War Service (?) Discharged - insane;
  • Developed mental derangement, 2nd Eastern Hospital, Portland Road, Hove.
(This record is unusual in providing so little information)
Thomas Bamford. b.1888
12, Enoch Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent
Married, 2 children
Occupation: Ovenman
Motivation: Primitive Methodist
War experiences:-
  • CM (Court Martial) Wallsend 13.6.17 - 6 months HL (With hard labour) -
  • Prison (Wormwood Scrubs) 21.6.17 to 8.9.17
  • - to Hanwell, London County Asylum, Mental illness
  • Discharged as no longer fit for service 27.11.17
  • - required to present himself for annual medical*
*(Military Service (Review of Conscription) Act 1917).

W364 Proceedings on discharge
Military character: Bad. Patient unable to give necessary (personal) information.
Dementia praecox originated in Wormwood Scrubs: Constitutional, probably aggravated by confinement in prison (onset). Patient unable to give any statement whatsoever (Details in longhand and typewritten versions). “No documents obtainable” re some standard queries.
Incoherent & talking incessantly, repeating same word over and over.
3/10 Attempted to strangle himself with a rope made from shirting; later same month made rope of vest, tied it round his arm.
31-10-17 report:  Yes, requires another person in constant attendance, “he is a suicidal lunatic”

In Hanwell at time of discharge. – Gordon J Key, Capt., RAMC, O/C case; I L Waddell O/C Hospital.

Henry Burgess b.1880
37, Barry Road, Dulwich
Shorthand writer
Occasional Quaker Attender (Peckham); NCF (No-Conscription Fellowship); Wesleyan Methodist
  • CM (Court Martial) Newhaven 5.8.16 - 6 months
  • Re-arrested after rejecting HOS (Home Office Scheme), 9.7.17
  • CM (Court Martial) Att.Depot Devon 16.7.17 - 2yrs.HL
  • Exeter CP (Civil Prison). 21.7.17 to 22.2.18
  • 'Certified insane and removed to Exminster Asylum'
  • Transferred to Devon County Lunatic Asylum (19.2.18) Mental illness
  • Discharged from army as 'no longer fit for service' 27.3.18.
From Henry Burgess's WO363 file: Court Martial
Transfer to Asylum
Q in H (Question in Parliament) (?) 10.6.18 re his mental state - "Is he now in an asylum?" -
HC Deb 10 June 1918 vol 106 cc1852-3
(The question refers to 'Harry' rather than 'Henry' Burgess, hence presumably Pearce's question-mark. The names were often used interchangeably).
80. Mr. T. RICHARDSON asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Harry Burgess, a conscientious objector, was sentenced to his first term of imprisonment in August, 1916; that he, subsequently, was transferred to a work settlement; that he was afterwards recalled and sent to prison; that he has since broken down mentally and is now in an asylum; and if he will say whether his present condition is a result of the treatment he has received while in prison? 
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Brace)  These facts are as stated in the question except that Burgess has recently been discharged from the asylum. There is no reason for thinking that his insanity was in any way attributable to the treatment he received in prison.
John Burke
38, Euston Rd.,  Morecambe
  • Absentee. Arrested 12.5.17, tried and handed over. To Oswestry barracks/camp
  • - went on hunger strike at Oswestry May 1917,
  • and sent to Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington*
  • Force fed; May 1918 reported to be in hospital.
  • Richmond Asylum, Dublin July 1918
  • 'Case of Brutality and neglect
* [Note by CP] Treated' in same hospital as Ribeiro [Ribiero in Hansard].
Returned to his unit at Oswestry twice before being sent to Dublin.
(Emmanuel Ribeiro, a gold and silver engraver from Manchester, and father of eight. An absolutist who refused all co-operation with conscription, repeatedly went on hunger strike and was force fed 155 times in Warrington and Wormwood Scrubs prisons.)

"Q in H 20.6.17 re his being sent to hospital in Dublin" -

HC Deb 20 June 1917 vol 94 cc1766-7
71. Sir WILLIAM BYLES  asked the Home Secretary whether Emanuel Ribiero, a conscientious objector, belonging to North Salford, is still at Lord Derby's War Hospital at Winwick, near Warrington; whether he is still hunger-striking and being forcibly fed; whether he describes the process as slow mental and physical torture likely to end in his death or loss of reason...
Mr. MACPHERSON  Ribiero is still in the Lord Derby War Hospital. He is hunger-striking, and is being fed by tube. He makes no resistance, so that this feeding cannot be described as forcible...
(No PQ relating to John Burke on this day has been found.)
Samuel Cartwright b.1896
16, School Street, Barrow in Furness
Watch and clock repairer
  • NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) 1.3.17 Lancaster, (4 Western)
  • Rejected at medical - Mental Illness - long-standing condition
  • - but called up 12.3.17 Kinmel Park Guard Room
  • - letter to NCF (via Cartwright's mother) worried about his sanity
  • Refused to sign army papers
  • 16.3.17 removed to Military Hospital with nervous breakdown
  • Discharged as unfit 9.4.17 and sent to Lancaster Asylum
The Army disclaims responsibility for Samuel Cartwright's condition
Alexander Robert Cook b.1877
  • Fort George 6.3.17; NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) (3 Scottish)
  • CM (Court Martial) (4 Scottish) 13.3.17 Hamilton 112 days HL
  • Wormwood S. released and returned to unit 15.6.17
  • Refused HOS (being sent to a work camp or other alternative service).
  • CM (Court Martial) Hamilton 21.6.17 - 1yr.HL Barlinnie CP (Civil Prison)
  • Released to rejoin unit 22.11.17
  • Hospital, Hamilton 29.12.17 - 1.1.18 (Scabies); 7.3.18 - 6.3.19
  • 'Delusional Insanity'; Dykebar* War Hospital, Paisley 6.3.19
  • Died in Dykebar War Hospital 13.6.19; Mental illness
* "From 1916-1919 the hospital was taken over by the military authorities for use as a war hospital and the inmates were removed to other institutions throughout the country, with the exception of a few men to work on the grounds and the farm."
Telegram informing Alexander Cook's sister of his death
Thomas Davis
Motivation 'deeply religious'
  • Winson Green CP (Civil Prison), Birmingham 25.10.16, left 30.10.16
  • Reported to have been discharged as 'insane'
  • Work Centre HOS (?) 28.1.18 reported to be working on a farm near Hereford.
[As noted, occasionally only minimal information is available.]

Richard Elsworth
27, Wellington Street, Barnoldswick nr. Colne, 'Yorkshire' [now seems to be Lancashire]
Weaver; former Baker
  • 19.5.16, posted to NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) (2, 3 Northern)
  • 16.6.16 CO (Commanding Officer) awarded him 14 days detention
  • CM 7.7.16 Richmond (Yorks.) - 112 days HL. Durham CP (Civil Prison)
  • HOS 7.8.17 at Wakefield; Dartmoor; recalled to colours 16.8.17.
  • 'Deserted' 16.8.17 at Leicester, arrested 14.9.17. CM Leicester 21.9.17 - 1yr.HL
  • Leicester CP 24.9.17 - 23.5.18 to Leicester County Lunatic Asylum
  • Certified insane 21.7.18, Leicestershire County Lunatic Asylum, Market Harboro
  • - discharged from army 5.8.18 'No longer fit for service'

Alfred E Eungblut b. 1895
St Pancras
Piano Tuner*
  • MST (Military Service Tribunal) May 1916 St Pancras - CO refused; #
  • Absentee. Arrest reported 15.9.16
  • Central Tribunal at Wormwood S. 18.10.16, CO class A (‘Genuine’), to Brace Committee
  • CM Hurdcott 28.9.16 - 6 months HL 112 days
  • Wormwood S.; Dec.1916 - mental illness - went mad
  • - sent to Epsom Asylum and died there in June 1917
  • Died in insane asylum after arrest but not in prison
* The surname Eungblut was big in piano-making, in this area of London.

Q in H 14.3.17
HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 cc1109-11W

Mr. CHANCELLOR asked the Secretary to the Local Government Board whether he is aware that Alfred Eungblut, a conscientious objector who voluntarily gave himself up on 12th September last, was court-martialled at Salisbury, sentenced to two years' hard labour, sent to Wormwood Scrubbs, and from there to Epsom lunatic asylum; and, seeing that this man was driven insane by the ill-treatment that he received at the hands of the military, and is now in a serious state of health and possibly dying, will he say what action he proposes to take?
Sir G. CAVE  My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. This man was sentenced by court-martial on the 28th September last to 112 days' imprisonment. On the 10th November he was certified to be insane and removed to an asylum. I have no reason whatever for supposing that his insanity was due to ill-treatment by the military, but if the hon. Member has any evidence to support this very serious allegation he should submit it to the Army Council. The case is one for their consideration and not one that comes within my purview.
Bertie French b.1897
1, Dudley Road, Haverhill, Suffolk
  • (NCC). Rwfused to sign. CM 9.10.16 - 2yrs.HL Wormwood S.
  • HOS Transfer to Army Reserve Class W
  • Wakefield work centre; Knutsford Work Centre - Macclesfield Hospita
  • - Q in H 10.4.18; Q in H 10.6.18 re his having attempted suicide at Knutsford
  • - now in Cheshire County Asylum at Macclesfield - mental illness
  • Discharged 28.5.18 from Cheshire County Asylum, Parkside, Macclesfield.
HC Deb 10 April 1918 vol 104 cc1461-5

20. Mr. KING asked the Home Secretary whether Bertram French, a conscientious
objector, formerly at Knutsford work centre, is at present in hospital at Macclesfield through attempted suicide, and a previous attempt at suicide was hushed up; whether he was driven to this action by the conditions and treatment at the work centre; whether inquiries have been or will be made...
Sir G. CAVE  French is in the county asylum at Macclesfield, having been removed there after his first attempt at suicide, which occurred during his temporary absence from the work centre. Upon the recommendation of the medical officer he had been excused work at the centre and had been allowed to go out as he pleased during working hours. He has attempted suicide again while in the asylum; nothing is known of any other attempt. There is nothing in the facts of the case to justify the suggestion that he was driven to his action by the conditions and treatment at the work centre.
{PQs and Answers on 10-6-1918 do not seem to include reference to French).
Albert Frost
Bletchley, Bucks.
  • Absentee. Arrest reported 26.1.17
  • Wormwood S. Hunger strike 24.3.17 to 10.4.17
  • - 'borderline insane' transfer to asylum - mental illness

Owen Griffiths b.1877
Llangyfelach, Glamorganshire
  • CM Cardiff 12.7.17 - 112 days HL
  • Wormwood S. 17.7.17 to 13.10.17 to Escort
  • Carnarvon CP (Civil Prison)
  • Denbigh Asylum serving 2nd sentence 9.5.19

Evelyn Wilfred Harbord b.1889
17, Upper Cavendish Street, Ipswich
School teacher
  • CM (Court Martial) Bury St.Edmunds 30.4.17 - 6 months HL
  • Wormwood S. 4.5.17, hunger strike 29.5.17
  • - deemed insane and transferred to Hanwell asylum 6.6.17
  • Discharged with mental illness and no longer fit for service,
  • Mental Hospital, Foxhall Road, Ipswich, Suffolk 6.8.17
  • - Died Sept.1917

George Harrison b.1888
9, Dean Street, Fairfield, Liverpool
  • CM (Court Martial) Derby 30.8.17 - 20 months. Refused HOS.
  • Wormwood S. 10.9.17 to 2.9.18 transfer to Wandsworth CP
  • - released by order of Secretary of State 8.11.18; Illness, mental 28.10.18
  • - '. went raving mad'. to Lunatic Asylum

Claude John Hopkinson b.1896
Ingham Road, Long Eaton
Card puncher
  • Ilkeston Police Court 3.5.16, arrested tried, fined and handed over
  • WNI (Pelham) (Work of National Importance under the Pelham Committee) 16.5.17 to 16.10.17
  • In poor health, recently*discharged from Derbyshire Asylum and rejected by Army Medical Board
  • - light labouring work at Long Eaton Midland Railway stores
  • Illness - neurasthenia, referred to local MOH (Medcial Officer of Health)
(*Not clear whether he was in the asylum before becoming a CO.)

Aneurin Morgan b.1893
5, Park Row, Cwmavon, Port Talbot
Hosier and Draper
Not attached to any know organisation
  • Arrested, Port Talbot Magistrates court 21.8.16, fined 40/- and handed over
  • Refused to sign army papers
  • CM (Court Martial) Kinmel Park 26.8.16 - 2yrs.HL 112 days
  • Wormwood S released 2.12.16
  • CM Kinmel Park 6.12.16 - 2yrs.HL 112 days Walton CP (Civil Prison), Liverpool
  • - 1.2.17 mental illness - 'losing hi mind' and sent to County Asylum at Rainhill, Liverpool
  • 23.2.17 Transfer to 57 TRB (Training Reserve Batallion)
  • 17.3.17; " is suffering from Delusional Insanity. He is refusing food and has to be fed with a stomach tube. He also says that he is Jesus Christ."
  • 13.6.17 Discharged under King's Regulations para 392 (xvi): No longer physically fit for service.
Timothy Sidney Overbury b.1880
21, Marley Street, Beeston
Married, 1 child
Church worker
Motivation Brotherhood Church, Beeston; NCF
  • Leeds 2.10.16 arrested and handed over - began hunger strike as soon as arrested*
  • Refused to sign or to answer any questions; refused HOS
  • CM (Court Martial) West Hartlepool 9.10.16 - 28 days
  • Wormwood S. 12.10.16 continued hunger strike - Fasted and refused food
  • Force fed from 18.10.16 to 6.11.16 - to Fulham Military Hospital. Q in H 28.11.16
  • - discharged by army 2.12.16 weighing 4 stones* - *Hunger strike for 36 days
  • 14.12.16 Discharged as no longer physically fit for service

W364 Record of Service,
Refuses to sign. Refuses to answer any questions.
Wilful defiance of authority & lawful command. Arrested, refused all food from that moment.
Fed forcibly in W Scrubs 18-10-16 to 6-11-16. Is emaciated. Pulse poor but has improved in last 3 days.
Is volubly full of fixed notions as to the immorality of military service.
Is of low mentality & obsessed with religious ideas against war but not certifiably insane.
Total incapacity expected to last probably a few days.
After release from army arrested for distributing literature likely to prejudice recruiting 10.12.16.
Medical Board report - 'Is of low mentality and obsessed with religious ideas against war but not certifiably insane'.
HC Deb 28 November 1916 vol 88 cc133-4
35. Mr. SNOWDEN asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Thomas Sidney Overbury, a conscientious objector, was handed over to the military on 2nd October, 1916, court-martialled on 9th October, and sentenced to twenty-eight days' imprisonment, which he served in Wormwood Scrubs; that on the expiration of his sentence on 6th November he was sent to Fulham Military Hospital, and will he say if he is still in that hospital; if he has been on hunger-strike practically the whole time since his arrest; if he has been forcibly fed; and if it is intended to let the man die rather than give him the exemption from military service to which the Central Tribunal has decided he is entitled as a genuine conscientious objector?
Mr. FORSTER  This man has been discharged under paragraph 392 XVI., King's Regulations.
Albert F Parrish
Married, 1 child
Cycle dealer
Baptist - organist at Baptist church
  • Arrested 17.1.17 tried, fined etc. handed over and taken to Warley
  • CM (Court Martial) Warley 25.1.17 - 6 months HL (With hard labour)
  • Central Tribunal at Wormwood S. 16.3.17 - certified insane
  • Wormwood S. - declared mentally ill, insane
  • - and taken to the London County Asylum at Epsom
  • 'Brutality Case'

Frank Piper b.1884
Previllas, St.Agnes, Cornwall
Carpenter and wheelwright
Primitive Methodist
  • NCC. CM Weymouth 11.5.17 - 1yr.HL com. 6 months
  • Wormwood S. 15.5.17 to Hanwell Asylum 5.7.17 - Mental illness (?)
  • Auditory halluc[i]nations and mania, began at Wormwood S. July.1917
  • Discharged 5.9.17 'no longer fit for service' (KR 392 xvi)

Pitcher, William  b.1887
29, Wolverhampton Rd., Walsall 
Saddle bar maker
  • Arrested at Walsall, fined £5 and handed over 11.9.16
  • CM Whitley Bay 28.11.16 'Refusing to fire' - 28 days FP1 (Field Punishment No.1)
  • CM Backworth 15.12.16 - 18 months detention, Wandsworth MP
  • - released and returned to unit 16.4.17
  • CM Forest Hall 30.4.17 - 2yrs.HL, 6 months, Newcastle CP
  • CM Forest Hall 10.10.17 - 2yrs.HL Newcastle CP (Civil Prison)
  • - 20.7.18 removed to County Asylum ': 'has gone insane and was conveyed to Morpeth Asylum
  • Discharged as no longer physically fit for service - mental illness 'Paranoia' - 16.9.18
  • - discharged from asylum by order of Secretary of State 4.2.19

George Hegarty Ramsay b.1890
87, Edith Grove, Chelsea
Single until 3-3-1917
  • Refused to sign and refused information
  • NCC. CM Shoreham 31 May, 1 and 2 June 1916 - 2yrs HL 112 days HL Lewes CP
  • Discharged 23.11.17 'no longer physically fit for service' (KR 392 xvi) - 'delusional insanity'

Herbert Alfred Shorley b.1878
73, Avondale Road, Kettering
Married, 2 children
ILP (Independent Labour Party); NCF (No-Conscription Fellowship)
  • Fugitive. Arrested Kettering 30.10.17
  • Refused to sign and refused a medical
  • CM Northampton Barracks 8.11.16 - 6 months HL com.2 months
  • Wormwood S. 17.11.16 released to HOS
  • 14.2.17 transfer to Army Reserve Class W; Wakefield Centre March 1917
  • - went missing and found in Barnsley. Thought to be "out of his mind".Mental illness
  • Discharged 29.3.17 unfit for service (KR 392 xvi) 'Insane'
  • West Riding Asylum, Wakefield; Discharged from Asylum 17.9.17

W V Smith
  • Absentee, Arrest reported 26.1.17
  • 3 (R) London CM (Court Martial) Torquay 23.4.17
  • - Guilty but insane; Mental Illness

Alfred Ernest Statton b.1890
6, Sophia Street, Cardiff
Married, 1 child
Wood sawyer/machinist
  • CM Kinmel Park 9.12.16 - 6 months HL
  • HOS Wakefield Work Centre - admitted to Wakefield Asylum 29.3.17
  • Mental Illness - delusions
  • Discharged at Shrewsbury 24.7.17 as physically/mentally unfit,
  • to Hereford County Asylum
  • Died after arrest but not in prison, Hereford County Asylum 1919

John Styche b.1890
13, Castle St., Erdington, Birmingham
Farm labourer
  • RFA Artillery School CM Northampton 26.12.16 - 56 days HL
  • Wandsworth CP (Civil Prison) 1.1.17 to 12.2.17 (Remission)
  • - to duty 21.2.17; to France: 28.2.17 - 14.7.17
  • FGCM (Court Martial) 26.4.17 Disobedience and offensive remarks
  • - unfit to stand trial. Home: 14.7.17 - 13.9.18
  • Discharged unfit 13.9.18 (KR 392 xvi) Mental Illness - 'Feebleminded', 'Insane', 'Imbecile'

John Taylor
Custom House and Silvertown (Ward), West Ham
  • Private 23162 D Company, 3rd Battalion Essex Reg.
  • CM Felixstowe 13.12.16 - 1yr.HL 28 days - Wormwood Scrubs.
  • HOS. Q in H 13.11.17 re his attempted suicide while at Wakefield
  • - Mental illness - declared insane and transferred to Wakefield Asylum.
  • Q in H 5.2.18 re his suicide on the 20th January*
  • Notes *'Died after arrest but not in prison'
HC Deb 13 November 1917 vol 99 cc193-5
65. Mr. KING asked whether John Taylor, a conscientious objector at the Wakefield work centre, recently attempted suicide by cutting his throat; whether this man is the John Taylor, No. 23,162, D Company, 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment, who was granted a non-combatant certificate by his tribunal, was forced into a combatant regiment, ordered to do rifle drill, and afterwards subjected to field punishment No. 1; whether it is owing to this and subsequent treatment that the man was driven to attempt suicide; whether he has now been certified insane; and whether inquiries will be made into this case with the view to fix responsibility?
The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave) The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I have no information as to the allegations contained in tithe second part, which should be addressed to the War Office. As regards the third part of the question, six of Taylor's friends among the men employed at Wakefield have voluntarily supplied a report on the facts of the case and on Taylor's mental condition. It is not suggested in this report that his condition was in any way due to his treatment while in the Army or in prison: on the contrary it is mainly attributed to anxiety caused by an explosion near his home and by subsequent air-raids in London. Taylor has now been certified insane. I see no ground for further inquiry into the matter.
Mr. KING  Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this man is now in a dangerous condition and that his friends have been sent to see the last of him?
Sir G. CAVE  I have not heard that, but I am sorry if it is so. 
HC Deb 05 February 1918 vol 101 cc2068-74
78. Mr. LAMBERT asked the Home Secretary whether John Taylor, a conscientious objector, has recently died in Wakefield Work Centre; whether an inquest was held; if so, what verdict was returned; and whether lie will have an independent inquiry by persons other than officials concerned into the circumstances of the deaths of the various conscientious objectors who have died during the last twelve months?
Sir G. CAVE  This man died on the 20th January at the West Riding Asylum, of which he had been an inmate for over two months. His death was the result of wounds which he inflicted upon himself on 2nd November while he was an inmate of the Wakefield Work Centre. As regards the causes leading up to the suicide, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to a question addressed to me by the hon. Member for North Somerset on the 13th November, from which it appears that at the time when he committed the act he was in great anxiety as to the effect of the air-raids upon his home in London. An inquest was held on 25th January, and a verdict of felo de se [suicide] was returned. I see no ground for any further inquiry.
Andrew May Watt b.1894
  • Depot Gordon Highlanders CM (Aberdeen 17.4.17 - 112 days HL
  • Wormwood S. 21.4.17 - Central Tribunal at Wormwood S. 22.6.17, to be certified insane
  • 5.7.17 to Hanwell Asylum; Mental illness, certified insane.
Links to principal sources for the above:
COs -
UK Parliament -
More on some of these stories later