War was fatal even after battle ended
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
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?).
Author, Blighty’s Railways