Dorset Soldier’s Attempted Suicide: Second Attempt on his Life

This article in a local newspaper of the time came to light on a visit to Dorset History Centre. Apart from George Clarke being a local man from Broadstone, it is an interesting account of the effect the war had on young men’s lives.

“At a special sitting of the Dorchester Borough Branch on Tuesday, when the magistrates present were the Mayor (Mr N D Allen), Mr G Davis and Mr A R Edwards, the story was unfolded of an attempt made by Private George Clarke of the 3rd Dorset Regt., Depot Barracks, to take his life. As a result he was arraigned on a charge of attempted suicide. He is a young fellow of a little over 17 years old and a native of Broadstone. It transpired during the evidence that he had made a previous attempt on his life, for which he was placed on his trial at the Poole Quarter Sessions in October and bound over for twelve months, so that by his present act he has broken the recognisances which he then entered into.
The first witness was P.C. Mayo, who stated that at 8.35 the previous evening, from information received, he proceeded to South Walks, and opposite South Court he saw the prisoner lying on his back on the bank. As witness went towards him he was handed a razor by one of the bystanders. On examining the prisoner, he found a piece of flannel shirting tied tightly round his neck. Witness pulled it off and prisoner began to moan, and said “Where is the razor? I want to take my life.” Witness lifted him up on his legs, whereupon he began to struggle and again asked for the razor. He also said “I am tired of life.” Eventually he became quieter, and witness had to practically carry him to the police station. On the way prisoner once more asked for the razor, repeating that he was tired of life, and adding, “If I have not done it now I shall do it some other time.” At the police station prisoner said that he had promised to meet a girl that night but she did not turn up. The piece of flannel tied round his neck he had cut from the shirt he was wearing. When charged with attempting to commit suicide, he replied “Yes, yes.”
The Magistrates’ Clerk (Mr A G Symonds): Was he sober? Witness: Yes, sir; there was no sign of him having had any drink. Witness also stated that the prisoner admitted to him that he had previously been charged at Poole with attempted suicide.
Harold Adams, a grocer’s assistant, of 8, Cornwall Terrace, deposed that at 8.30 the previous evening, he saw the prisoner lying on the bank in the South Walks. He had a razor in his hand and was apparently trying to cut his throat, so witness went to him and took away the razor. This he handed to someone standing by, and shortly after the constable appeared and took prisoner into custody.
The Magistrates’ Clerk: Was the razor open? Witness: Yes, and the prisoner had it at his throat.
Mr Edwards: Did he inflict any wound? Witness: No, he appeared to be cogitating about it.
Upon this evidence, Supt. Dennett was granted a remand until Monday, the prisoner being removed in custody.”

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