War was fa­tal even af­ter bat­tle ended

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters armistice 1918-2018 -

Ge­orge Edwin El­li­son (Re­port, 3 No­vem­ber) may have been the last Bri­tish sol­dier killed in the first world war. Sadly for my fam­ily, he was not the last fa­tal­ity of that war. My grand­fa­ther, Wil­liam

Henry Gar­rett, served in the Royal En­gi­neers on the west­ern front from 1914-19, be­fore re­turn­ing home to his wife and three young chil­dren (one of whom was my fa­ther).

Wil­liam came back trau­ma­tised by his ex­pe­ri­ences in France and was di­ag­nosed with shell shock. For the next 17 years my grand­mother, Alice, cared for Wil­liam as best she could and to her eter­nal credit suc­ceeded in keep­ing him out of a feared lu­natic asy­lum. Sadly, in 1936, Wil­liam took his own life. He was 51 years old.

He was one of many thou­sands of men who sur­vived the war but went on to take their own lives. Jon Gar­rett

Lon­don

The ar­ti­cle Rail work­ers war memo­rial un­veiled at Lon­don St Pan­cras (8 No­vem­ber) fea­tures the va­ri­ety of oc­cu­pa­tions in­volved in rail­way ser­vice in years gone by. This can be seen to even bet­ter ef­fect in a his­toric com­mem­o­ra­tion in Ed­in­burgh’s Waver­ley sta­tion. The 1920 memo­rial op­po­site plat­form seven con­sists of 10 steel wall pan­els list­ing the names of

860 dead, ap­prox­i­mately one in six of those em­ploy­ees of the North Bri­tish Rail­way who vol­un­teered be­fore the con­cept of re­served oc­cu­pa­tions was im­posed half­way through the first world war. Nearly all the 860 served in the army and only 10 were of­fi­cers. Their names are linked with their spe­cial­i­ties, un­der­lin­ing the St Pan­cras artist’s fas­ci­na­tion with the oc­cu­pa­tions of work­ing peo­ple – the NBR memo­rial records the sac­ri­fice, not just of rail­way­men, but en­gine drivers, canal banks­men, boiler wash­ers and (cu­ri­ously) strik­ers (wheeltap­pers per­haps?).

AJ Mul­lay

Author, Blighty’s Rail­ways

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