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#1 von Poop

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 09:56 PM

Does anyone know anything about the rate of suicide during the Second World War both at home and in service?

This arose from a conversation with a friend today and we can't find much on the internet other than recent statistics, reference to Kamikaze and the more politically motivated suicides of the time. Obviously there seems a high rate when the fighting reaches civilian areas such as occured in Silesia etc. but we were more interested in the affect on 'quieter' zones, (the above being almost classifiable as deaths in action). We didn't want to discount areas at the mercy of bombers either which also, for us, didn't seem to quite fit in the above category.

I feel sure they must have risen not from just giving very young men the readily available means but also from the general trauma spread by the war but am having difficulty finding anything that proves or disproves that.

Cheers,
Adam.
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#2 Owen

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 09:36 PM

Can't find any statistics.
Just reading about ex-BEF men who commited suicide because they were so ashamed of their actions on the beaches at Dunkirk trying to save their own skins.
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#3 lancesergeant

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:40 PM

You have mentioned the obvious ones like the Kamikaze. Also Japanese troops disembowelling themselves in seppuku rather than surrender. No doubt some elements of the Allied forces committed suicide, but this would more than likely be hushed up in the event of possible effects on moral.

I was told of a RAF pilot at Cranwell who on the day/night of the flight was taken ill and couldn't fly. The rest of the crew went on the sortie and never returned. Apparently he was guilt stricken and took a plane up and crashed it into the tower at Cranwell. A part of the roof space is blocked off. Workmen in recent times working on the modernisation of the block wouldn't work there due to a hostile presence.

Pressure loss of colleagues, going on potential suicidal mission must have played on the minds of some if not all. I personally heard of suicides in barracks due to the stresses of the life, this would occur even more so in a war-time footing. Guilt over a colleague or section copping it and themselves surviving affecting a lot of troops, loss of family in bombings, loss of brothers, sisters fighting elsewhere. It affect everybody different. Everybody has their breaking point.

There was some story going about that more troops have self harmed or committed suicide since the Falklands, than died in the war itself. One only has to look at America and Vietnam. In the forties and fifties folk put a brave face on it and kept their grief to theirselves. Others all around were in the same boat and it was the accepted thing to grin and bear it and soldier on.

In an environment where others are in the same position and the only option is bottle it up and keep going and no one to talk to - because others have or are going through it, might cause a person to feel that though important to him was not to the outside, leading to a sense of dispair leading to the only release they believed available to them.
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#4 Owen

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:11 PM

Christmas 1943
"That evening there were fifteen suicides in the division, hearts broken from the strain of so many months of separation and suffering."

Feldgrau :: Kriegsweihnachten: Reflections on Christmas during WWII

Posted this on Christmas thread too.

Just thoght when you get peed off with the rellies and Xmas TV, just be thankful you're not on the Russian Front.
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#5 Kyt

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:25 PM

In fact suicide rates during both world wars fell:

Suicide rates per million 1901–1998 England and Wales
1901–1905 101
1906–1910 102
1911–1915 96
1916–1920 85
1921–1925 101
1926–1930 123
1931–1935 135
1936–1940 124
1941–1945 92
1946–1950 106
1951–1955 107
1956–1960 116
1961–1965 137
1966–1970 118
1971–1975 101
1976–1980 112
1981–1985 121
1986–1990 118
[FONT="]1991–1995 110

A similar trend seems to be apparent in studies on the US, Australia, and Norway.

From a study of suicide rates during WW2 in Scotland:

[/FONT] "Suicide rates are thought to fall during wartime. Durkheim [1] suggested this was due to increased social cohesion, while others have suggested that competing outcomes may be important, with individuals who might otherwise have died by suicide being more likely to die of other causes [2]. Neeleman [3] cites this as an example of contextual effect modification, with suicide risk modified by the likelihood of dying of other causes.


Examples of reductions in suicide rates in times of war have been described for several time periods and cultures [4-9]. Marshall [10] argued that the reduction in suicide rates reflected a reduction in unemployment, a recognised risk factor for suicide [11], rather than a direct effect of war, an argument offered some support by Lester and Yang [12]. Stack [13] suggested that the suicide rate decreased as the proportion of the population employed in military roles increased.
Work on recent conflicts has suggested a more complex effect. The war in Serbia and Croatia has been studied in some detail. Grubisic-Ilic et al [14] reported a decrease in suicide rates in parts of Croatia affected by war, while Bosnar et al [15] describe an increase in suicide rates in southern part of Croatia during wartime, with a particular increase in people aged under 40 years [16]. Grubisis-Ilic et al [14] and Bosnar et al [15,16] both report an increase in firearms deaths.
The last war with major involvement of the UK population was World War II."



  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Durkheim, E. Le suicide. Paris; 1897.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Deshaies, G. Psychologie du suicide. Paris: Press Universitaires de France; 1947.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Neeleman J. Beyond risk theory: suicidal behavior in its social and epidemiological context. Crisis. 2002;23:114–120. doi: 10.1027//0227-5910.23.3.114. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Frenay, AD. The suicide problem in the United States. Badger: Oxford; 1927.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Suicide and War. Statistical Bulletin. 1942;23:1–2.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] O'Malley P. Suicide and war: a case study and theoretical appraisal. British Journal of Criminology. 1975;15:348–359.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Lester D. The effect of war on suicide rates. A study of France from 1826 to 1913. European Archives of Psychiatry & Clinical Neuroscience. 1993;242:248–9. doi: 10.1007/BF02189971. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Lester D. Suicide rates before, during and after the world wars. European Psychiatry. 1994;9:262–264.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Somasundaraam DJ, Rajadurai S. War and suicide in northern Sri Lanka. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 1995;91:1–4. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Marshall JR. Political integration and the role of war in suicide. Social Forces. 1981;59:771–785. doi: 10.2307/2578193.
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Platt S. Unemployment and suicidal behaviour: a review of the literature. Social Science and Medicine. 1984;19:93–115. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(84)90276-4. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Lester D, Yang B. The influence of war on suicide rates. The Journal of Social Psychology. 2001;132:135–137. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Stack S. The effect of the decline of institutionalized religion on suicide 1954–1978. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 1983;22:239–252. doi: 10.2307/1385968. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Grubisic-Ilic M, Kozaric-Kovacic D, Grubisic F, Kovacic Z. Epidemiological study of suicide in the Republic of Croatia – comparison of war and post-war periods and areas directly and indirectly affected by war. European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists. 2002;17:259–64. [PubMed]
  • [FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Bosnar A, Stemberga V, Cuculic D, Zamolo G, Stifter S, Coklo M. Suicide rate after the 1991–1995 War in Southwestern Croatia. Archives of Medical Research. 2004;35:344–7. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2004.03.001. [PubMed]
16.[FONT="] [/FONT][FONT=Symbol]·[/FONT] Bosnar A, Stemberg V, Zamolo G, Stifter S. Increased suicide rate before and during the war in southwestern Croatia. Archives of Medical Research. 2002;33:301–4. doi: 10.1016/S0188-4409(02)00364-8. [PubMed]
[FONT="] [/FONT]
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#6 adrian roberts

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 01:41 AM

Kyt
As a Psychiatric Nurse, I'm interested that these figures are on the whole fairly constant over the century.
The peaks seem to be 1931-35 (the Depression?) and 1961-65 ( time of great social change). The drop after 1970 could be due to the phasing out of coal gas and replacement by North Sea gas, which will suffocate but is not poisonous as such.
I like to think the drop after 1990 was due to better Community Mental Health care, though that may be wishful thinking. Any idea of the figures since 1995?
Sorry to get off WW2...

Adrian
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for heathen heart that puts its trust in reeking tube and iron shard
all valiant dust that builds on dust and guarding, calls not thee to guard
thy mercy on thy people, Lord (Kipling)

#7 Kyt

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:00 AM

Hi Adrian,

I'm a bit rusty on this subject (it's been a few years since I studied it at uni). Yes they do seem fairly constant, but they are an amalgamation. If broken down by age and gender, the rates look very different. As we the figures progress towards the end of the century the proportion of females, and young men increase.

You're right about the fluctuations but if you plotted against finacial depressions, then you'd see a marked correlation - 1930-35, 1956-60 (suez crisis, and the first oil crisis), 1976-80 (the second oil crisis). However, the 1961-65 does seem like an anomoly, and you may be right that it was due to social changes. As to the means of suicide, the old gas was actually most post popular with women, and if I remember correctly, men tended to hang themselves (but I'd need to check that).

For the latest figures, the ONS is very good. Here's a summary:

Suicides
Rate in UK men continues to fall

Posted Image
United Kingdom suicide rates
Suicide rates in men showed a downward trend during the 1990s until a sharp increase in 1998. Since this peak, the rate has again fallen and the rate in 2004 was the lowest throughout the period 1991 to 2004, at 18.1 suicides per 100,000 population. Suicide rates for women in the UK were lower than those seen in men throughout 1991 to 2004, and a slight downward trend was observed up to 2003.

In 2004, there were 5,906 suicides in adults aged 15 and over, which represented 1 per cent of the total of all UK deaths. Almost three-quarters of these suicides were among men and this division between the sexes was broadly similar from 1991 onwards.

Posted Image

Suicide rates by Government Office Region of England and country of UK, 2002/04



There were large differences in suicide rates for both men and women across the countries of the UK. The lowest suicide rates for 2002/2004 combined were in England for both men and women. In both sexes, the highest suicide rates were in Scotland (30.0 and 10.0 per 100,000 for men and women respectively) where rates were almost double the rates in England (16.7 and 5.4 per 100,000, respectively). Men in Wales had a suicide rate a third higher than the rate in England.

Within England, the highest suicide rates were in the North East and North West in both men and women (21.1 and 17.8, and 5.9 and 5.8 per 100,000 population, respectively). The suicide rate in men in the North East was 15 per cent higher than the overall UK rate, although the rates in women for all of the regions in England were below the UK rate. The lowest suicide rates were seen in London for men (15.5 per 100,000) and the West Midlands for women (4.9 per 100,000).

Of the twenty ‘local areas’ with the highest suicide rates in men for 1998-2004, 17 were in Scotland. The highest rate for men was in the Shetland Islands. At 47.5 suicides per 100,000 population this was more than double the overall UK rate of 19.5. In women, 12 out of the twenty ‘local areas’ with the highest suicide rates were in Scotland. The highest rate for women was in Glasgow City and the second highest rate was in Camden (15.8 and 15.2 per 100,000 population, respectively). The suicide rates for these areas were over two and half times the overall UK rate of 6.0 per 100,000 population.
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#8 spidge

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 03:22 AM

A bit of info from Australia in a shorter period.

3309.0.55.001 - Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia, 1993 to 2003

And a longer period.

1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2000
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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
-------------------------------------------------------
My Signature photo is the Battalion history of WW2 and the patch of the 2/8th battalion. (Blood & Bandages)
My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#9 adrian roberts

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 01:13 AM

Kyt
Thanks for those figures - I'll hang onto those!

And thanks Spidge, though of course in my job/studies, its the UK figures I need most.

Adrian
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for heathen heart that puts its trust in reeking tube and iron shard
all valiant dust that builds on dust and guarding, calls not thee to guard
thy mercy on thy people, Lord (Kipling)

#10 spidge

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 02:12 AM

Kyt
Thanks for those figures - I'll hang onto those!

And thanks Spidge, though of course in my job/studies, its the UK figures I need most.

Adrian


Thought it may give you some trend relationships.
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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
-------------------------------------------------------
My Signature photo is the Battalion history of WW2 and the patch of the 2/8th battalion. (Blood & Bandages)
My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#11 von Poop

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 05:12 PM

Just pottered onto Wiki's list of 'Notable' Suicides (having only just discovered that George Eastman (Kodak) killed himself).
List of suicides - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I'm expecting a few inaccuracies and outright misconceptions, and obviously it's no exhaustive list, but I thought I'd pick out the WW2 related ones, (and other cause célèbre from the period) as some are interesting stories.
Listed by Wiki under 'forced':
  • Ludwig Beck (1944), German Chief of the General Staff of the OKH, forced to commit suicide after the failed 20th of July plot.
  • Erwin Rommel (1944), German Field Marshal, took part in a plot against Hitler; forced to take poison in exchange for his family being protected from reprisals.
Hope that's not too gloomy for anyone.

Cheers,
Adam.
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#12 Owen

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:09 AM

Reading 2 Wilts war diary for March 1940.

12/3/1940-Linselles , France
2210: No 5567469 Pte Phillips RA of 'A' Coy shot himself in 'A' Coy billets.

13/3/1940-Linselles , France.
1100: Court Of Enquiry on the death of Pte PHILLIPS

14/3/1940-Linselles , France
1430: Funeral of Pte Phillips at ARMENTIERS.

CWGC :: Casualty Details

Name:PHILLIPS, REGINALD ALBERT
Initials:R A
Nationality:United Kingdom
Rank:Private
Regiment/Service:Wiltshire Regiment
Unit Text:2nd Bn.
Age:29
Date of Death:12/03/1940
Service No:5567469
Additional information:Son of Sidney and Sarah Phillips, of Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire.
Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference:Plot 11. Row A. Grave 14.
Cemetery:CITE BONJEAN MILITARY CEMETERY, ARMENTIERES
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#13 englandphil

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:07 AM

I have suicide details for 2 of the names on my South Lancs Roll of honour, both taking place in the UK, whilst on active service
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#14 sapper

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:46 AM

Never heard of a case in my active service time.
Sapper./
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#15 militarycross

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:30 AM

Oddly enough, when I was visiting with a chap years ago, he told me about being at Boundary Bay in British Columbia taking his OTU. I knew that my Father-in-law had been there as well and mused how we might determine if Dad and Bill had been there at the same time. Says Bill, "Ask him if he remembers the day the fellow put the Lib into the ground after getting a Dear John letter." I did in a round about way ask Dad if anything interesting happened while he was taking his OTU. "Not really," says he, "other than the day we watched a fellow fly around the field for a while and then crash his Lib straight into the ground. I was told he had received a Dear John letter."

Seems a bit strange to date yourself as being on base in that way, but Dad said there were about 400 guys watching this "silly buggar" flying around and around for what seemed to be a long time -- an hour or more is what my memory tells me I was told about the event.

So, suicide in this case was also by means at hand when you are a pilot.

cheers,
phil
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#16 spidge

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:31 AM

I have come across two suicides out of the 11,091 Aussies who died in the RAAF/RAF. One was in France in 1940 and the BoB and another I am unable to find too much about especially where he was buried.

One was on leave in Australia when his wife died and was so devastated that he took his own life.

In the RAF in 145 Squadron during the Battle of Britain at Tangmere/Westhamnett.

CO 452 Spitfires at Kirton in Lindsey and Kenley ? dates

Nov 7th 1940 as F/Lt, Hurricane V6889 on Patrol, shot down by Me109 off Isle of Wight, baled out at 14.30. wounded.

Was allowed home to re-couperate and to be with his family. His wife died and he killed himself [ 1943]

The other was informed that he could no longer fly:

He served at flying training schools at Reading and Shawbury before joining 224 Squadron RAF in August 1939. He flew a great variety of aircraft, including the Spitfire, Beaufighter, Hurricane, Oxford and Wellington, mainly patrolling and conducting aircraft engine and technical tests. He committed suicide in 1943 after being invalided out of the RAF.


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Spidge,


My project is the collection of over 11,400+ RAAF Headstone/Memorial photos located in 70 countries during WW2 and the 360+ from WW1. Can you assist? Do you know someone that can?
-------------------------------------------------------
My Signature photo is the Battalion history of WW2 and the patch of the 2/8th battalion. (Blood & Bandages)
My Avatar is my dad, Gunner Frederick Edwin Swallow "C" Company, 2/8th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division AIF. Critically wounded on the first attack on Tobruk, January 21st 1941.



 


#17 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:31 AM

Have a look at this earlier thread on suicides:

http://www.ww2talk.c...html#post133152

I made the following point then:

In my own Regiment's Diaries there is the following entry:


DATE
Trooper xxxxxxxxxxxx died whilst on guard duty. Cause of death was 3 GSW in head.

GSW is shorthand for Gunshot wound.
Nothing more in the record and, in all honesty, I do not remember the incident, although I was clearly still serving with the unit at the time in question.

Other than that single episode, just like Brian, I cannot recall a single other death by suicide in the whole of my service career.

Edited by Ron Goldstein, 14 December 2009 - 11:47 AM.

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If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel circa 30 BCE


:peepwalla:

 

I was "called-up", as a 19 year old, on the 1st of Oct 1942 and was one of 5 serving brothers, one of whom, Jack, was in RAF Bomber Command and was killed on March 16th 1945.

I served as a Driver/Op (Wireless Operator) with the 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt. (78 Div) from Apr 1943 to Dec 1944 (North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt). The Regiment was disbanded in Dec 1944 and I was retrained (in Italy) by the Royal Armoured Corps.

 

Finally, I served as Loader/Op with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (6th Armd.,78th & 56 Div) from Mar 1945 to Dec 1946 (Italy, Austria, Germany) finishing up as Tech Cpl. for "A" Sqdrn.  I was "De-mobbed" in Apr 1947

http://www.blogger.c...947129038825503


#18 Gerard

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:45 AM

Seems that April and May 1945 were not good months if you happened to have served as a Gauleiter in the Third Reich. Suicided appears to have been quite the fashion at the time:

Josef Terboven: Josef Terboven - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joachiom Eggeling: Joachim Albrecht Eggeling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jakob Sprenger: Jakob Sprenger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Otto Telschow: Otto Telschow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gauleiter Wilhelm Murr: Wilhelm Murr - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paul Giesler: Paul Giesler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alfred Meyer: Alfred Meyer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bernhard Rust: Bernhard Rust - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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#19 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:52 AM

Gotthard

Don't leave out Herr Globocnik (courtesy of Wikipedia)

According to some accounts, Globocnik was tracked down and captured by British troops at the Möslacher Alm, overlooking the Weissensee Lake on May 31 1945, and may have committed suicide the same day in Paternion by biting on his capsule of cyanide. To corroborate this, there are at least two contemporary photographs showing Globocnik's body shortly after his death. Furthermore, there are several reliable reports, including the Regimental Diary and Field Reports of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, detailing the circumstances of his capture and suicide.

Ron
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If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel circa 30 BCE


:peepwalla:

 

I was "called-up", as a 19 year old, on the 1st of Oct 1942 and was one of 5 serving brothers, one of whom, Jack, was in RAF Bomber Command and was killed on March 16th 1945.

I served as a Driver/Op (Wireless Operator) with the 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt. (78 Div) from Apr 1943 to Dec 1944 (North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt). The Regiment was disbanded in Dec 1944 and I was retrained (in Italy) by the Royal Armoured Corps.

 

Finally, I served as Loader/Op with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (6th Armd.,78th & 56 Div) from Mar 1945 to Dec 1946 (Italy, Austria, Germany) finishing up as Tech Cpl. for "A" Sqdrn.  I was "De-mobbed" in Apr 1947

http://www.blogger.c...947129038825503


#20 V4Victory

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:24 PM

Forced suicide seems really grim
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#21 Gerard

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:31 PM

Gotthard

Don't leave out Herr Globocnik (courtesy of Wikipedia)

According to some accounts, Globocnik was tracked down and captured by British troops at the Möslacher Alm, overlooking the Weissensee Lake on May 31 1945, and may have committed suicide the same day in Paternion by biting on his capsule of cyanide. To corroborate this, there are at least two contemporary photographs showing Globocnik's body shortly after his death. Furthermore, there are several reliable reports, including the Regimental Diary and Field Reports of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, detailing the circumstances of his capture and suicide.

Ron

Well added Ron! Wasnt sure if he faced Justice or escaped it.
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"The Eastern front is like a house of cards. If the front is broken through at one point all the rest will collapse."
- General Heinz Guderian

 

"There's no "i" in team, but there's four in Platitude Quoting Idiot" 
 


#22 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:41 PM

Gotthard

Actually he was a bit of a nasty/mystery character all round and there are even different versions of his suicide around (see Wikipedia) but I'm pleased to report that my regiment gets a mention in both :)

Dead he is, that's for sure :) :) :)

Ron
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If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel circa 30 BCE


:peepwalla:

 

I was "called-up", as a 19 year old, on the 1st of Oct 1942 and was one of 5 serving brothers, one of whom, Jack, was in RAF Bomber Command and was killed on March 16th 1945.

I served as a Driver/Op (Wireless Operator) with the 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt. (78 Div) from Apr 1943 to Dec 1944 (North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt). The Regiment was disbanded in Dec 1944 and I was retrained (in Italy) by the Royal Armoured Corps.

 

Finally, I served as Loader/Op with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (6th Armd.,78th & 56 Div) from Mar 1945 to Dec 1946 (Italy, Austria, Germany) finishing up as Tech Cpl. for "A" Sqdrn.  I was "De-mobbed" in Apr 1947

http://www.blogger.c...947129038825503


#23 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 04:57 PM

Adam,
I can provide two instances told to me by two seperate members of the Legion.

Sydney, my RN veteran friend told me of the sinking of HMS Eagle.
He was below when the 3rd Torpedo struck and he received injuries but managed to get up to the deck before she sank.

Although injured himself he helped other injured on to the deck. One of the severely wounded was a young sailor of about 18/19 years of age who was missing an arm and had other serious wounds.
The young sailor said that he could not live looking like he did.
His rescuers told him not to think that way and placed him safely near a station and proceeded to help other injured sailors.
A couple of minutes later the sailor was not there. He had apparently thrown himself overboard.
Sydney was really upset by this episode and he still remembers it vividly to this day.

Another friends father was a Leading seaman on HMS Warspite and and he had a 19 year old cousin serving on board.
The ship was badly damaged by bombers off Crete and the young cousin was trapped aft below decks for 24 hours with water very high in the compartment.
My Friends father was speaking to the trapped men to keep their spirits up knowing full well that if there was any more damage taken the men would not stand a chance.

The men were rescued after 24 hours and this incident must have really badly effected the young sailor as at the end of the war he visited family friends in Glasgow and committed suicide using the gas oven in the house.

Now it would be classed as Post traumatic stress I believe.

I think Suicide was more widespread than reported.

Regards
Tom
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#24 von Poop

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 06:17 PM

Good stuff chaps.
Nice to see this grim little thread 'resurrected' after all that time. For some reason the subject's always fascinated me.

I'd quite like to know more about Felix Powell's death - from writing 'Pack up your troubles' to "Suicide in the uniform of the Peacehaven Home Guard" seems quite a journey.
This article briefly cites that WW2 somehow "destroyed his illusions":
The Rotarian - Google Books

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Seems that April and May 1945 were not good months if you happened to have served as a Gauleiter in the Third Reich. Suicided appears to have been quite the fashion at the time

Surprise surprise...
Shame a few more of them didn't consider it sometime in the 30's. :mellow:

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#25 James Daly

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:04 PM

I wonder what official attitudes to suicide were? Obviously it would be something that they would want to censor, news of suicides would not have made positive reading in wartime. There must be some references in official documents, probably at Kew - morale was something that the authorities discussed a lot during the war. Their might also be something in the Mass Observation Archives.
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#26 dbf

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:05 PM

From The Times, Saturday, December 2, 1939:

OFFICER FOUND SHOT

A verdict that he committed suicide by shooting himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed was recorded at the inquest at Aldershot yesterday on the body of Second Lieutenant Charles Fairfax Coryndon Luxmoore, aged 31. He was found shot in his room at the staff college, Minley, near Aldershot, on Thursday. A fellow officer said that early on Thursday Luxmoore said that he had slept badly, but he seemed cheerful and perfectly normal. Lieutenant-Colonel E.J. Luxmoore (retired), an uncle, said that Lieutenant Luxmoore had no worries and was happy about joining the Army.


From The Times, September 18, 1939:

"MEIN KAMPF" NEAR DEAD YOUTH
LETTERS TO GERMAN GIRL


A verdict of suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed was returned at the inquest at Birmingham on Saturday on the body of James Leonard Stott, aged 17, of Birmingham, a laboratory assistant at the Birmingham General Hospital. He was found poisoned with postassium cyanide near his home on Thursday.

The father, Mr. A.L. Stott, said that last Whitsuntide there was an explosion in the boy's garden shed laboratory, as the result of which he appeared in court and was bound over. He had also been fined for having a revolver which he had brought back from Germany. He had twice visited Germany and was in correspondence with a girl there. He did not get Nazi tendencies, but his nerves were bad. The witness put it down to the girl, and said that his son lost control of himself. The boy thought Hitler a great man who had done well for his country.

It was stated that a swastika armlet and a copy of "Mein Kampf" were found near the body.


The Times, March 10, 1942:

INQUEST ON MAJ.-GEN. SIR ALAN HUNTER

A verdict of "Suicide while the balance of the mind was disturbed" was returned at an inquest at Woking yesterday on the body of Major-General Sir Alan John Hunter, who was found shot in the office of the National Rifle Association at Bisley Camp on Thursday. He was secretary of the association and was aged 60.

Lady Hunter said here husband had been to see a doctor on March 2, having had bronchitis. She described how he returned home about 2 p.m. looking rather disturbed and strange, and went out again without taking his lunch. She went to his office and found him crouched on the floor with a wound in his head. On his table she found a letter in his writing addressed to her.

He was in the last war for 4 1/2 years, she said, fighting all the time without a break except for six months. He went straight on to a job in the War Office and had had big appointments ever since and never gave in. He worked at high pressure and along with that had the worry of his sons, who were fighting. One was in Libya and one in Burma.

The Coroner. - This seems to indicate more or less a nervous breakdown? - Yes.


From The Times, September 1, 1942:

At an inquest at Westminster on Saturday on Ronuld Seweryn Kurasz, a second lieutenant in the Polish Army, and Mrs. Gladys Maud Wilson, of Margravine Gardens, Barons Court, W., who were found shot in Hyde Park on August 26, the jury returned a verdict that the woman was murdered by the officer and that he committed suicide while of unsound mind.


From The Times, Jun 9, 1943:

POLISH DOCTOR'S SUICIDE
A verdict of suicide while the balance of the mind was disturbed was recorded at an inquest at Hammersmith yesterday on the body of Dr. Szmul Zygielbojm, 48, a member of the Polish National Council, who died in St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, shortly after being found unconscious at his flat in Porchester Square, Bayswater. Leon Oler, a lance-corporal of the Polish Army said the doctor was worried about the treatment of Polish Jews by the Germans and about his wife and two children in Poland.


From The Times, September 10, 1945:

GERMAN SPY'S SUICIDE IN SHELTER

The story of a German parachute spy, who was found shot in a Cambridge air raid shelter in April, 1941, is now disclosed. The man, Jan Willen Ter Braak, had a pistol by his side and a bullet wound in the head. Later, police found that he had a complete portable radio transmitter fitted into a suitcase. An inquest was held in camera and the verdict was one of suicide.


Edited by von Poop, 14 December 2009 - 10:44 PM.
Merged multiple posts D - purely for neatness's sake. ~A

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#27 Owen

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:41 PM

Wasn't suicide illegal in the UK until 1961 ?
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#28 Drew5233

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:05 PM

If memory serves me well it isn't illegal to attempt it but it is illegal to succeed :lol:

I'm probably wrong but we used to joke about that particular piece of legislation....Normally when someone was on the highest bridge over the M1 waiting for a lorry to come along.
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#29 James Daly

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:16 PM

I remember reading in Middlebrook's Arnhem book that an officer on the second lift suffered horrific burns on the drop zone, and begged his troops to shoot him. Apparently someone cocked his pistol and put it in his hand before they left him. He was later found with a gsw to the head, but no-one could confirm exactly how he died for sure. I think Middlebrook witheld the guy's name.
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#30 dbf

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:35 PM

Read about quite a few cases of attempted suicides being charged, while looking at Times archives. Don't know about dates in change of legislation, but Owen seems to be right about it being a crime ...
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