ALLSOP, Edward [of Mansfield]

Photo:Les Baraques Military Cemetery

Les Baraques Military Cemetery

Sangatte, Calais

Photo:Edward Allsop's suicide note

Edward Allsop's suicide note

something gone wrong with my head

Photo:articles of private property of the late No. 404943 Pte Allsop

articles of private property of the late No. 404943 Pte Allsop

including 'Razor in Case'

Photo:Old Meeting House war Memorial, Mansfield

Old Meeting House war Memorial, Mansfield

Edward Allsop heads the 22 Unitarians commemorated

A very sad end

By Ralph Lloyd-Jones

Edward Allsop was born in 1879 so he was already nearly 36 when he volunteered and joined the army on 19th November 1914. He came from a large family with seven brothers and two sisters still living in Mansfield, as well as his widowed father who was also called Edward. He had married Mary Ann Dean in October 1903 and they had four children: Edward (aged 9), Hilda (7), Samuel (2) and Mary who had been born on January 1st 1914. He was a plasterer by trade and they lived at 60 George Street.

After training in England, including the regimental depot at Derby, Allsop went to France with 14th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, embarking from Folkestone on 31st August 1915. In December he was given 7 days Field Punishment No. 2 (isolation, cross-country runs, no cigarettes, etc.) for “not complying with an order.”  He was in trouble once or twice again, being confined to “P.B.” [Punishment Barracks] in November 1916 and January 1917, but this would have been for minor misdemeanours like failure to clean a weapon properly. On 8th October 1917 he was transferred to the Labour Corps, probably due to being less than A-1 fit, though his medical records do not appear to have survived.

On July 6th 1918 Private Allsop was on  guard duty on the wharf in Calais. Just after 4 a.m. another guard, Private Crawford, could not find him so he fetched the Guard Commander. When they made a search they discovered Allsop’s body in the woods just beyond his sentry box. He had taken his own life by cutting his throat. Remarkably, his service record includes the suicide note:

Dear wife ther [e’s] something gone wrong with my head this Last night through Bei[ng] so ignorant in 1914 and volentouring, I have tried to do my Bit But failed through a duped telatram supposed to Be from home. I cant write no m[ore]

This was written on Church Army and Church of England Men’s Society Recreation Hut paper and it seems unlikely that his widow ever saw it. She was, however, sent his possessions, including, it appears, the very weapon with which he had killed himself:

Wallet, Razor in Case, Religious Book, Handkerchief, 1 Defaced Coin, Bracelet, Metal Ring

The ‘Bracelet’ may have been an early form of identity tag, though these were often privately made, not yet standard issue during the war. It looks as though he had received bad news from home which he did not want to believe; tragically a frequent cause of suicides amongst servicemen. The Court of Inquiry mentioned that ‘special leave had been recommended for this man as his mother was dangerously ill’ and charitably attributed his death to ‘temporary insanity’.

He is buried at Les Baraques Military Cemetery In Sangatte near Calais and commemorated on the Unitarian war memorial at the Old Meeting House, Mansfield.

This page was added by Ralph Lloyd-Jones on 12/08/2014.

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