Memorial campaign sees forgotten Cane Hill Asylum WWI soldiers honoured at Croydon cemetery

Memorial campaign sees forgotten WWI soldiers honoured at cemetery

Michael Lyons has received a letter from Buckingham Palace commending his efforts

Adrian Falks at the original memorial

First published in News
Last updated

A war memorial is to be unveiled at Croydon cemetery, Mitcham Road, in honour of forgotten soldiers admitted to Cane Hill Asylum during the First World War.

Croydon Council, after a lengthy campaign lasting more than 10 years, has finally agreed to the erection of a memorial specifically for the soldiers.

Soldiers admitted to the asylum suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, then known as “shellshock”, and having died while in institutional care were summarily disposed of in mass, unmarked graves.

About 5,000 people, including the 26 soldiers, were buried near the Coulsdon site, now set to become a residential complex, and are recognised in a memorial unveiled in 2011 at Croydon Cemetery. This memorial was later vandalised and the plaque stolen.

Adrian Falks (pictured below) has been intimately involved in the campaign and has been pushing for a specific memorial naming the fallen servicemen.

Croydon Guardian:

Mr Falks estimates there may be as many as 9,000 soldiers buried in unmarked graves and not included on rolls of honour across the country.

Michael Lyons, an ex-serviceman with the Surrey Regiment and the Third Parachute Regiment, has also been involved with the campaign.

Mr Lyons, of New Addington, said: “The names of the majority of the soldiers of the First World War are remembered on Britain’s memorials and in the hearts of their families.

“However, because of the stigma of mental illness, the soldiers of Cane Hill have been completely forgotten.

“These men would now be recognised as suffering from a war wound.”

Mr Lyons has received a letter from the office of the Queen thanking the campaign for its efforts “to honour the sacrifice of those mentally affected by the war”.

The new memorial will be composed of three stones – two listing the names of the soldiers admitted to the asylum and the other with a dedication of thanks for their service.

Croydon Council and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have yet to agree a date for the unveiling of the memorial, but have said that they are working to complete the project as soon as possible.

This announcement is the latest in a long-running campaign by this paper that has seen the soldiers of Cane Hill ultimately admitted to the Debt of Honour Register.

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:03pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Drhills says...

Interesting article. Deserved recognition.
Interesting article. Deserved recognition. Drhills
  • Score: 2

4:02pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Madgrey says...

Mr Faulks and Mr Lyons need to be congratulated on their persistence in getting justice for those lives lost because of war. Thank you Gentlemen
Mr Faulks and Mr Lyons need to be congratulated on their persistence in getting justice for those lives lost because of war. Thank you Gentlemen Madgrey
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree