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.
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.