Berry, Henry

Berry, Henry            1917 September 14th              Bulford

Young Soldier’s Suicide – His Last Letter to a Girl

On Friday afternoon the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) held an inquest at Bulford Military Hospital concerning the death of Private Henry Berry, MT, ASC, who was 27 years of age. His home was in Leicester. According to the evidence of Sergeant L C Whitehead, he was a “very broody man,” but had no domestic worry, though the sergeant hardly liked to say whether he had any trouble with the Army. “It might have been the fear of going overseas,” he added. When asked by the Coroner whether anything he did led the witness to suppose that Berry expected to go overseas, he replied, “There was only the expectation in his own mind. Sometimes he used to go to bed fully dressed, with his kit by his side, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice, but I stopped that.”

Had he any grounds for believing he was going overseas? No reason at all.

Private E Simpson said that Berry came out of Hospital on Wednesday evening, and was sleeping in the same hut as he did. He told him he had pneumonia, and had been in hospital for four weeks. He added that he did not feel well, and asked witness if he thought C2 men would be called up for France. Witness told him he did not think so, and that there was no need for him to worry as he was passed C2. Berry left the hut about a quarter to ten, and shortly afterwards witness went to an outhouse, where he saw him hanging from a cord suspended from the water pipe. He immediately cut him down and went for a doctor, and in the meantime artificial respiration was tried, but without success.

Captain H E Rawlinson, RAMC, medical officer attached to the ASC, Bulford Camp, said he saw the body of the man. Death was due to strangulation. Witness sent him to the Hospital on August 4th because he had a high temperature. A man with suicidal tendencies would be more likely to commit suicide when he was in a weak state, after having been in hospital, than he would if he had been more fit.

It was stated that a letter to a girl had been found in Berry’s overcoat pocket. Among the extracts read to the jury by the Coroner were the following sentences:

Just a few lines to you, hoping you are quite well. The wedding day will be when we are united in Heaven. I thank you for all you have done for me. Look after mother. I am sorry to cause you this trouble. It has broken my heart and my life.

From your broken-hearted sweetheart.”

The Coroner said there was evidence that the man was not quite normal, in his curious way of going to bed with his clothes on, ready to proceed to France the next morning.

A verdict of “Suicide whilst of unsound mind” was returned.


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