Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21

Thread: Suicides During WWII

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Newcastle, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    28
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Suicides During WWII

    I am looking into RAAF deaths by illnesses and accidents at the moment and would like to nkow if anyone knows of any instances where RAAF members in the European theatre committed suicide during WWII?

    And how big a problem was suicide in other air arms?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    393
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default accidents and suicides

    I know of at least 2 instances within RCAF 6 group in 1944. 1 suicide under extreme circumstances, shot up a number of times , crew killed, coming home with a severely shotup Lanc, watching friends die in crashes.
    Richard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,948
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    Dean,

    "And how big a problem was suicide in other air arms?"

    It wasn't - a 'big' problem, that is.

    Suicides amongst New Zealand airmen and women who served during WWII total just 4 - i.e. just under a tenth of a percent of all those who died. Only one of the four was aircrew (a quarter of a tenth of a percent), and of the groundcrew one, possibly two, was suffering from a medical condition that was probably of a terminal nature.

    I suspect that the stats for other arms are much the same. There were of course plenty of other options for getting killed at the time...

    Errol

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4,743
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 69 Times in 63 Posts

    Default

    Errol

    Interesting analysis and you have certainly got the information to hand to provide it, the only point I have, is that I Suicide was still 'illegal' at the time in the UK (and was until the 1961 Suicide Act) and there was the issue of consecrated ground as well

    Is it possible some suicides (in your list), were written up as 'accidental gun discharge' ? rather than specific stating suicide? or have you taken this into account already

    Paul

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    449
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    I know of one particularily sad incident that involved a young Lancaster pilot on a Pathfinder Squadron which demonstrates just how much pressure some men felt. After this pilot had done a number of ops he asked to see the Squadron CO and told him he wanted to be transfered to another type of aircraft where he would not have the responsibility for the lives of a crew, explaining he didn't object to being in combat but he no longer wanted the lives of his crew on his conscience.
    His Commanding Officer missed his point and responded that everyone had fears that they had to overcome and deal with on their own. Being a "press on regardless" type the CO put the pilot and his crew on the order of battle for that night, believing it was something best confronted head on.
    When his crew was taken to the dispersal that night the pilot said he had left something behind, left for the ops block and didn't return. Naturally the CO was enraged when he found out that a crew hadn't taken off and even more so when he found out just who was missing.
    They eventually found his body behind a nissen hut, he had shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Obviously he believed some things were worse than death. It happened on November 11th and that date never passes without reminding me of that pilot and what he was dealing with.
    Dave Wallace

  6. #6
    Scarletspitfire Guest

    Default Suicides

    Can anyone put a name to these poor young people?

    How many WAAFs also chose to take their own lives? I am fairly certain that a very small percentage of single women who found themselves in the "family way" would have opted, or at least considered, taking their own lives. I am not aware of any offical figures around this but it would be interesting to know.

    Regards

    Paul J

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Stockport, UK
    Posts
    1,197
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    From the ORBs I have typed up entries from there were 3 confirmed cases of suicide. In each case it involved lower ranked personnel.

    No.2 (O)AFU, Millom, January 6th 1944, “1833437 AC2 Acton D. committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with .303 bullet in Hanger on Station.”

    - Aircraftman 2nd Class, Dennis Acton, Age 34, 1833437.

    No.10 (O)AFU, Dumfries, May 3rd 1942, “AC Clayton who was awaiting removal to detention barracks after Court Martial sentence committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a .45cal service revolver, the property of the Service Police.”

    - Aircraftman 1st Class, Fred Clayton, Age 21, 634765.

    No.1 OTU, Silloth, December 10th 1942, SSQ, “1 airman committed suicide in Station Sick Quarters. Airman died of self inflicted injuries (1073098 AC Cockburn).”

    - Aircraftman 2nd Class, Joseph Cockburn, Age 34, 1073098.
    Alan Clark

    Peak District Air Accident Research

    http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/

  8. #8
    Eddie Fell Guest

    Default

    This one a Squadron Leader

    http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/mikeskeetsww2website/research.html

    Cheers

    Eddie

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,948
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by paulmcmillan View Post
    Errol

    Interesting analysis and you have certainly got the information to hand to provide it, the only point I have, is that I Suicide was still 'illegal' at the time in the UK (and was until the 1961 Suicide Act) and there was the issue of consecrated ground as well

    Is it possible some suicides (in your list), were written up as 'accidental gun discharge' ? rather than specific stating suicide? or have you taken this into account already

    Paul
    Paul,

    At least five casualties were the result of discharge of firearms. Two occurred whilst on guard duty and appear to have been genuine accidents. Of the others, it is impossible to say if suicide was intened.

    This of course does not alter the main point of my post, which was to show that suicide, though a horribly memorable event, was not a 'big' problem in the overall scheme of things.

    Errol

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Newcastle, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    28
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    I now have 3 instances where RAAF members took their own life.

    One where an airmen "stepped" from an aircraft, another airman who, as the ORB states, died of self inflicted wounds and a SQNLDR who returned to Australia only for his wife to die months after his return before he died by his own hand.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •