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Guardian's campaign to honour forgotten war dead

A South London weekly has launched a campaign to remember a forgotten group of fallen heroes from World War One.

The Croydon Guardian wants the names of 26 soldiers who died at a mental asylum in Coulsdon to be included on the Debt of Honour – the list of service men and women who died during fighting in war.

The soldiers in question died after being admitted to the asylum suffering shell-shock – now known as post-traumatic stress disorder – and were buried in a mass grave without proper military honours.

Their bodies actually lay forgotten until in 1981 when the cemetery was cleared to make way for a housing development, and now lie in an unmarked grave.

Assistant editor Matthew Knowles told HTFP: “During the careful exhumation of more than 3,000 bodies, no distinction was made between the soldiers’ remains and those of ordinary patients.

“The names of these men now only appear on a burial list in Croydon’s local studies library.

“As the men had no immediate family, or anyone who would claim responsibility for their funerals, they were simply buried and forgotten and their sacrifices have not been recorded officially.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is now investigating the cases which were brought to its attention by reporter Kirsty Whalley and a local historian.

The Norbury British Legion has backed the Guardian’s campaign to honour the heroes, saying soldiers who suffered breakdowns were often vilified by their superiors “when they needed care and understanding”.


Viewhalloa (23/09/2009 10:58:08)
Honest to goodness local newspaper stuff ! You would not get a micro community reader journalist website doing this sort of thing would you ?

Sylvia Francis (25/09/2009 16:21:08)
The case so far focusses on First World War Soldiers, but my uncle and dozens of other Forces Personnel were sent there during World War Two. My uncle’s grave was destroyed in 1981 along with all the other War Graves from both World Wars. I understand from an elderly nurse who worked there, that bodies of some Servicemen were sent to the School of Anatomy for dissection, as it was cheaper and easier than employing grave diggers to re-open the mass graves. The Hospital Authorities were worse than the Nazis!