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Soldiers of the Regiment

Arthur Gaydon

We know very little about Arthur Gaydon and cannot place him with the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in the First World War, but his story is interesting.  It's a report from a local newspaper which reveals what was probably a not un-common story for discharged soldiers in the years after the First World War.

From The Western Times. Friday, February 1, 1929
Unknown Man’s Death
Inquest Story at Torrington Institution
A Suggestion

At the inquest at Torrington Poor-law Institution on Saturday on a man who, giving the name of Arthur Gaydon, aged 45, was admitted to the casual ward there on Wednesday week, and taken ill the following night died in a very short time, it was stated that efforts to establish the man’s identity had met with no success. He had no papers on him to show who he was, or from whence he came, other than a small pocket diary on which had been entered the names of various towns he had evidently passed through on tramp, and a few surnames of people it was thought he might either have met, or himself used in his travellings. It was stated that men on tramp sometimes used assumed names when registering at Poor-law Institutions.

Deceased had the usual tramp’s outfit, and his silver watch bore the names “Symons and Son, Launceston,” on the dial. On his left forearm there was tattooed a soldier in uniform, and a man’s head in a slouch hat, with the initials “A.G.”

The latter, the North Devon Coroner (Mr. G. W. F. Brown) pointed out, corresponded with those of the name he gave on entering the Torrington Institution.

John Anthony, tramp-major at the Institution, stated that Gaydon mentioned to him on the night of his arrival that he was last at the Institution in 1923, and that he had served in the Army, while the Master (Mr. C. H. Cory) said he had been unable to trace anyone of that name having been admitted to the Institution at that time. He understood that the man had mentioned that he served in the Army with the late Master of the Institution (Mr. Harrison), whom P.S. Brewer said was at one time in the Lancashire Fusiliers, and the in the King’s Own Loyal Lancs Regt. Inquiries had been made of the Record Office, but up to the present he had received no reply.

Evidence was given that Gaydon was apparently alright in health when he was admitted to the Institution, and worked the following day, when, however, he asked for, and was given, a dose of cough mixture. Later he got out of bed and shouted to the attendant to “fetch the doctor, I am gasping,” and put his head out of a window. It was as if he had an attack of chronic bronchitis or asthma. He died within a few minutes.

Dr. A. B. Pugh said a post-mortem examination revealed the lungs very much congested and that the man’s statement that he had been gassed in the war was true. The cause of death was sudden heart failure, resulting from pneumonia and pleurisy with effusion.

A verdict of “Death from natural causes” was returned, the Coroner remarking that everything possible seemed to have been done for Gaydon.

Mr. B. T. James, Clerk to the Torrington Board of Guardians, suggested that it might be helpful if some of the main particulars of Army records could be taken of ex-Service men who entered casual wards, in reply to which the Master said the instructions laid down by the Ministry only were followed.
Mr. James mentioned that the British Legion were seeing to the burial of the deceased.

On Tuesday afternoon the body of Arthur Gaydon, age 45 years, was removed from the Poor Law Institute and interred in the Torrington Cemetery with semi-Military Honours, thanks to the local branch of the British Legion. Although every inquiry was made by the local police and various branches of the British Legion, they have failed, up to the present, to disclose any relatives of the deceased, but from facts to hand the local branch of the British Legion had every reason to believe Gaydon was an ex-Serviceman and a brother-in-arms. It was, therefore, decided that the Legion should bear all the expenses of burial. The body was encased in a beautiful polished oak coffin with brass fittings, which was covered with the Union Jack, Rev. Preb. F. Emly Jones officiating.

The bearers, all ex-Servicemen, were Messrs. S. Adams, J. Sussex, B. Tolly, N. Burke, H. Drayton, J. Gordon, T. Vodden, S. Hutchings, T. Pellew, R. Walsh, F. Hutchings, and W. Blight.
Several ex-Servicemen walked as mourners to pay a last tribute of respect, including Messrs. W. Dyer (local Secretary of the British Legion), A. Munery, F. Sing, W. Gent, J. Gent, J. H. Pellew, H. Stoneman, F. Pound, and H. Sussex. The only floral tribute sent was subscribed for by members of the Torrington Branch.



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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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