Monday, 13 April 2015
'I have no photograph of my Great Uncle Reginald Durdle but he has not faded from memory. He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry aged 17 in 1911. He served through out WWI and survived physically undamaged. In April 1921 he came home from Forton Barracks, Gosport to his parent’s home in Downton where his father was the village shoesmith and churchwarden. He spent the afternoon of the 13th with a group of friends in Charlton All Saints. He walked home across the meadows and on the outskirts of Downton he filled his pockets with stones, tied lumps of chalk around his waist and drowned himself in the River Avon.
Mental disturbance as a result of war is too well documented to be the subject of conjecture. Such disturbance infrequently leads to suicide but it often leads to a lowered quality of live. There are many who have served recently who would benefit from advice, assistance and support to recover their mental wellbeing. To quote one young officer “I don’t know about post-traumatic stress disorder. But I do know about nightmares. I do know about gory images flicking before my eyes. About violent fantasies. About burning rage.”
Help for Heroes have launched a major long term programme, Hidden Wounds, with Exeter University to help those who served to recover their mental well being as well as continuing to support established military charities who deal with the more complex problem of PTSD.
My Great Uncle was described by his brother, my grandfather Arthur Durdle, also a veteran of WWI, as someone who “died from the war, not in the war”. In his memory I am cycling with my son Arthur from Paris to Cherbourg in June to raise money for Help for Heroes to ensure that they can continue to provide support to those both serving and retired and their families.
I know that you, like me, are often asked for donations but I really do hope that you can manage to support those who have been damaged both physically and mentally when doing what various governments have asked of them.
It’s a simple bargain: Arthur and I will do the sweating and we ask that you do the giving on our joint donation site.'