Suicide during the Second World War

Discussion in 'General' started by von Poop, Sep 30, 2006.

  1. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Suicide , God keep it from us all.
  2. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    I heard rumours many years ago that there were a number of suicides in the forties and fifties among young National Service soldiers doing their basic training at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire, who found it difficult to cope, particularly in the appalling winter conditions which can prevail there. I was there for a very brief period in the winter of 1954 and it was very depressing. It was probably whilst there that I heard the rumour.
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There were many cases where SOE agents and French Resistance personnel committed suicide to protect their network or reseau when captured and could not see a positive outcome from what they thought would be severe interrogations.

    At the end of the war there was many cases of Germans who were within the structure of the NAZI Party committing suicide taking their families with them...could not envisage life without National Socialism plus the well known cases of the NAZI leadership.

    I have also seen anecdotal evidence of POWs giving up if they were in captivity depression and received bad news from home.

    There was also the discussion recently on the forum of the death,while a POW, of "the defender of Calais"

    There seems to be a larger than average incidence, compared to the rest of Europe,of the suicide of young men in Denmark.

    Getting back to service commitment,I remember a man,his son was of the same age as me,received his call up papers after Dunkirk and committed suicide....cut his throat with "a cut throat open razor" ....found by his wife in the bathroom.Another man in the area went missing to avoid the call up, did not go so far as committing suicide....found months later after tip off, apparently,hiding in the loft.
  4. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Maybe there's a connection between commiting suicide and the fear of being shot as a "coward", as many poor men were during and after WW1.
    The shame for the family was more. In France those who were executed for that reason are only recently being considered for some recognition, as having contributed something.
    I think this was done a few years ago for those from UK.
  5. researchingreg

    researchingreg Well-Known Member

    According to my mother an ex-boyfriend of hers Clive who was an artist, (I don't know his last name, but I could ask her) was in the Army in North Africa and shot himself while on sentry duty.
  6. jmcq

    jmcq Junior Member

    My wife's great aunt, a wartime nurse, had a boy friend who died in India after the pistol he was cleaning went off , the round struck him in the head.
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Here is an unusual one described in “If You Survive” by George Wilson. He was an officer in the US 4th Infantry Division.

    I yelled at one of the sergeants to hurry and get his men out of there. The sergeant thereupon stood right up in the open, for no reason at all that I could figure – and immediately was cut down by a German burp gun, a small machine pistol that fired so fast it sounded like b-r-r-r-r-ip.

    To my mind, the sergeant’s girlfriend was responsible for the naked carelessness that caused his death. Just the day before he had shown me a Dear John he’d received from her. It was the most wickedly cruel letter I had ever read, and it morbidly depressed the sergeant. He was from the south, and this little wench told him, among similar tidbits, that she had been sleeping with a Negro and that he was twice the man that Sergeant Hester was
  8. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    In Burma, the injured who could not be evacuated were left with a grenade and maybe a gun. Re the Catholics, suicide was a sin so it would be interesting to know whether this stopped them killing themselves.
    Presumably there were men recruited who suffered from mental illness anyway, if not brought on by the the horror of what they were going through. Would they have been sent home, I wonder? Survivor guilt must have been a huge factor afterwards I imagine. Interesting thread...
  9. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Just to raise this again - I came across the death of Second Lieutenant Jim Meade, 4 RWF, who was 'found shot' in his quarters at Whittington Barracks at 0815 on 8 December 1941.

    Are there any official statistics of army rates of suicide? Curious given that many books talk about low morale etc, but tend to tiptoe away from this subject.

    Very useful thread thus far.
  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I've always been curious to know the specifics of Brigadier Reginald Miles's suicide:

  11. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

  12. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    I read very recently about an RAF Bomber Command pilot, with 24 sorties completed, who shot himself in his quarters a few hours before a scheduled op. Perhaps the shame of an LMF label was unacceptable to him.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  14. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    When the hell ship Singapore Maru arrived at Moji Japan after the horrific journey from Singapore one of those too sick to disembark crawled to the side of the ship and allowed himself to fall over the side into the cold water. Name witheld by sources.
  15. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    Wow. So sad.
  16. BarbaraWT

    BarbaraWT Member

    So very sad. The Japanese were unspeakably cruel. Shame on them all.
  17. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    My great uncle Michael Conway committed suicide in 1944. He was in the Royal Engineers and had just spent three years out in the desert. I’d assumed he’d been KIA until I got hold of his death certificate which recorded a GSW to the chest “while the balance of his mind was disturbed” like so many others in this thread. When I got his service records I noticed he’d had a few disciplinary incidents and wonder if these were early indications he was cracking up.
  18. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    I'm interested also in the longer-term effects of war service on suicides, although I doubt it is a subject supported by much in the way of specific facts.

    I'm thinking for example of a pilot who flew some 36 Special Duties operations at the age of 21, but committed suicide some 20 years later; also of a squadron colleague of his who had been shot down over Poland and subsequently fought with partisans, and who similarly killed himself about the same time after the war. In the first instance it isn't possible to say how much impact the man's war service had had, though I believe it was a contributory factor, but in the second it was clearly the root of his problems. Both were family men at the time of their deaths. I wonder how long things 'percolate' for with some people, before it all gets too much? It seems to me that the 'collateral' damage of war is considerably more widespread and complex than at first it might appear.
    Incredibledisc and canuck like this.
  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Dead on the Beach – ~An open verdict was returned at an inquest held this week in Berwick, on the body of Trooper Joseph Gamble, whose home was at Chapel House, Crofton. The deceased disappeared from his unit early in the last month, after visiting the medical officer. The body was found on the beach by a holiday-maker. Deceased was called up in August, 1939, and left England the following year. After serving in Palestine he went through the Syrian campaign, and was with the Eight Army throughout the North African fighting. He was wounded whilst in Tripoli and subsequently he was regraded and sent home to England. The funeral took place at Berwick Cemetery last Monday.

    Service Number 410047

    Died 24/08/1944

    Aged 30

    9th Bn.
    King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

    Son of George and Sophia Gamble, of Crofton, Yorkshire.

  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Portsmouth Evening News 27 February 1940
    Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 23.38.38.png
    CL1 likes this.

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