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Private John Ekins

16315 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Gravestone E.564Son of Mr William & Mrs Elizabeth Ekins

Aged 36 years

Died 3rd February 1919

Commemorated in Rushden Cemetery
Grave E.564

Rushden Echo, 7th February 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins.

Rushden Soldier’s Sad Death - The Suicide of a Returned Prisoner of War
Criminal Neglect by the German Doctors – Inquest at Duston War Hospital

Very sad are the circumstances surrounding the death, which took place at Duston War Hospital, Northampton, on Monday, of Pte. John Ekins, Northants Regiment, aged 36, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ekins, of 71, Newton-road, Rushden. Much sympathy is felt with the parents, who also lost another son, Sapper Ray Ekins, Royal Engineers, on Sept. 12th, 1918, only one son (Corpl. H. Ekins, R.A.S.C.) being left.

Pte. J. Ekins joined the Army on Nov. 9th, 1914, and had been wounded three times in various actions. In the battle of the Dunes, July 10th, 1917, he was wounded and taken prisoner. The German doctors did not or would not give proper attention to Pte. Ekins’ injury, his arm and shoulder being in a terrible state, and after five months in Germany he was sent to Switzerland. In a hospital in the latter country a clever operation was performed, saving the arm from being amputated. Pte. Ekins had endured great suffering from his wounds, an affection of the heart, and shattered nerves, when on December 10, 1918, he arrived home on two months’ leave. Having more trouble with injuries in his leg and arm, he reported to Dr. Greenfield, with the result that the Doctor at once arranged for Pte. Ekins to go to Duston Hospital, where he went last Saturday, his father accompanying him. On Monday he died by his own hand.


The inquest was held by the Divisional Coroner (Mr. G. H. Davis) at Duston War Hospital on Tuesday.

Lieut. J. H. Fiscus, United States Army (Medical Corps), of Duston Hospital, said that the deceased was admitted to the Hospital on February 1st suffering from valvular heart disease. At noon on Monday deceased seemed more cheerful that he had ever been. He knew his condition and was put on the dangerously ill list, and he never showed any suicidal tendencies. Deceased was removed to a single room, and was given a sleeping mixture the night before his death, and he said he had been sleeping better than usual. He had been a prisoner for five months in Germany and in Switzerland for twelve months, and said he had not been treated well. He was a single man and spent his two months repatriation leave at Rushden, where he was taken worse and was removed to Duston War Hospital. There had been no need for a special watch being put on him, but he was very depressed.

Sister Annie Greathead, Duston Hosptial, deposed that she had attended the deceased since Saturday. She gave him his medicine at 5p.m. on Monday and had only gone some twenty yards down the ward when a patient shouted “Sister, he’s cut his throat”. She went to deceased at once, telling a nurse on the way to go for a doctor. The orderly got into the room before witness. Deceased was sitting up in his bed propped up with pillows. The orderly was trying to stop the bleeding with his finger. The doctor came at once and everything was done for deceased. Witness picked up the razor (produced) from the floor, and there was blood on it. Up to his death the mental condition of deceased appeared normal.

Capt. Dr. Gatehell, R.A.M.C., said he was sent for to attend deceased shortly after 5p.m. on Monday. He went at once and found deceased in his bed, with a sister in attendance endeavouring to control the haemorrhage from the man’s neck. Deceased was bleeding profusely from a huge gash in the neck, and was evidently dying. Witness tried to stop the haemorrhage, but was unable to control it, and by the time he was past aid. He had severed the main blood vessels on both sides of his neck. Witness left the room to get some forceps, but he was dead before he (witness) got past the door.

The Coroner returned a verdict “that deceased committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor during temporary insanity”.

Rushden Echo, 14th February 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins.

The Funeral of the late Pte. J. Ekins, whose death at Duston Hospital was reported in our last issue, took place at Rusden cemetery on Friday last. The Rev. Jon Carroll (Vicar of St. Peter’s) officiated. The family mourners were Mr. and Mrs. W. Ekins (father and mother), Mr. W. Ekins junr. and Mrs Wood (brother and sister), Corpl. H. Ekins, R.A.S.C., and Mrs. Jaques (borther and sister), Mr. F. Wood (brother-in-law) and Mrs W. Ekins (sister-in-law). The following were the inscriptions on the wreaths sent: “From Father, Mother and Harry, with deepest sympathy”; “From Lizzie, Fred and Hilda, in loving memory”; “With deepest sympathy from Will, Amy and Annie”; “From Nellie and Will (Woolwich), in loving memory of dear brother Jack, ‘He giveth His beloved sleep’”; “From Uncle Ben Baker and Aunt Edie and Walter”; “Sincere sympathy from the staff and patients of ‘G’ Ward, Duston Hospital, Northampton”. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Whittington and Tomblin. Mr. and Mrs. W. Ekins and family desire to express their heartfelt thanks to the many friends who have sent messages of sympathy and to the staff of Duston Hospital fro the floral tribute.

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