Compassion in Conflict (Shell Shock) - Moss Side Hospital

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Reference WMO/270489


New Maghull North Railway Station

Park Lane


L31 9DD


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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Roadside
Description: Figure sculpture
  • Metal Bronze
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: Unveiled on 7 December 2018, the memorial is beside the fencing just past the entrance door of the new Maghull North Railway Station (built on the site of Moss Side Hospital). Sculpture of 2 people- 1 comforting the other, on a plinth and 8 sided base, outside the station entrance. There are also interpretation boards at various intervals along the station platforms. In the 19th century and until 1914 the hospital was a Children's Home and then an epileptic home, after the war it was taken over by the Ministry of Pensions but treating the same hospital, until that function was moved to Monmouth in a one day move, from the then railway station at this site. The remainder of the history is on the memorial itself.
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Side 1-The War Poet Wilfrid Owen/In 1915, Owen enlisted in the army and/after experiencing heavy fighting, he was diagnosed with shell shock./It was while being treated at home, he met fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon/who became a friend and an inspiration. He returned to the front in August 1918/and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in October./On 4th November 1918, Owen was killed while attempting to lead his men/across the Sambre canal at Ors, just a week before the armistice. One of his most famous poems 'Dulce et Decorum Est' or 'The Old Lie' reflected on/his experiences watching a soldier choke to death after being gassed. The final three lines/compares the reality of the soldiers fate with the enthusiasm many had on the eve of war./'Dulce et Decorum Est'/If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace/Behind the wagon that we flung him in,/And watch the white eyes wreathing in his face,/His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,/If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood/Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,/Obscene as cancer, bitter as the curd/Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues-/My friend, you would not tell with such high cost/To children ardent for some desperate glory,/The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori /[Latin phrase '"It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country"] Side 2-The War Poet Siegfried Sassoon/Sassoon enlisted in 1914 drawn by the patriotic mood of the time/but after suffering the horrors of the trenches and the front line/he made this statement, culminating in his admission/to a military psychiatric hospital for treatment for shell shock/A Soldier's Declaration (1917)/I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority,/because I believe that the War is being deliberately prolonged by those who have/the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of all soldiers./I believe that this War, on which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purpose/for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon the war should have been so clearly stated/as to have made it impossible to change them, and that had this been done, the objects, which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation. I have seen and endured/the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends/which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war,/but against political errors and inaccuracies for which the fighting men are being sacrificed/On behalf of all those who are suffering I make this protest against the description which/is being practiced on them, also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency/with which the majority of those at home regard the contrivance of agonies, which they do not,/and which they have not sufficient imagination to realise. Side 3-The memorial was unveiled by/Dr John Rowlands, a great friend of Maghull/7th December 2018/It was created and made possible by the collective efforts/of the following individuals and organisations/Maghull Town Council/Cllr Patrick McKinley, leader/Cllr John Sayers, deputy leader/Cllr June Burns, ex Mayor/Angela McIntyre, Town Clerk/Moss Side volunteers/Ross Ferguson, Emma Harrison/Stuart Harrison, Dr John Rowlands, Dr Frank Sharp/Maghull Schools, Amanda Bennett of MADCOS/Alex Waring of St John Bosco School/Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Network Rail/WW1 consultants Diane and Rob Wantling/Sculptor Andrew Edwards/Castle Fine Arts Foundry/All we are saying "is give peace a chance", John Lennon Side 4-Compassion in Conflict/Dedicated to all those who have suffered/and those who continue to suffer/from the effects of what was called 'shellshock'/and the dedicated medical staff of Moss Side Hospital/who pioneered the treatment of the condition//Prior to the treatment of shellshock,/many soldiers were 'shot at dawn' by their own side,/who accused them of cowardice when many of them were ill/In 2006, all 306 soldiers of the First World War/who were shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion/were granted posthumous pardons by the Ministry of Defence/This memorial stands in the grounds of what was Moss Side Hospital./The hospital is gone but the results of conflict continue to blight lives Side 5-Shot at Dawm/Jimmy Smith of the Liverpool Pals/Having survived the slaughter of Gallopoli/and being wounded during the Battle of the Somme,/Private 52929 Jimmy Smith returned to the front as member of the/17th Battalion of the King's Regiment (The Liverpool Pals)//He had almost lost his life on the Somme in 1916./A massive German artillery shell buried him alive on the Transloy ridge,/leaving bits of his friends around him, and a large deep shrapnel wound/on his right shoulder. According to his sister, it was big enough to put a fist in./Fortunately, he was rescued, but in a very poor mental and physical state/from which he never recovered. The shocks and horrors of the battles that he had seen/had damaged him to such an extent that he was clearly unfit foe further service./Jimmy was scared inside and outside by what he had seen and suffering/from terrible shell shock, he started to go absent without leave./Today we would recognise that Jimmy Smith/was suffering from serious post-traumatic stress disorder.//During late August and early September 1917, The Liverpool Pals had endured/some of the most vicious fighting of World War 1. Predictably perhaps, Jimmy escaped again./He would have known very well, that if he was caught, he might well face/the death sentence, but nothing could make him go into battle again./Just before midnight on the evening of 30th July 1917, he was arrested in the town of Poperinge./He was charged with desertion and disobedience, and on 22nd August, he faced court martial. Side 6-During the trial, Jimmy did not say a word./Disgracefully, he was not even given someone to act in his defence/The three presiding officers found him guilty. Men from Jimmy's regiment/were selected on the firing squad, most of whom knew he was a brave man/who was suffering from shell shock. He had been awarded two good conduct medals./Jimmy was still only 26 years old./His execution was due to take place at dawn on 5th September.//That morning, the reluctant executioners found him bound to a chair/sat up next to the wall of a barn. Private Smith was blindfolded and a white disc/had been placed over his heart as a target. Protesting furiously to the commanding officer,/the twelve man firing squad was summarily ordered to execute Jimmy./The lads aimed and fired, the majority deliberately missing the target. However,/Jimmy was wounded, the chair was knocked over and he lay screaming with pain on the ground./The young officer in charge of the firing squad was shaking like a leaf, but he knew now/that he had to finish Jimmy off by putting a bullet through his brain with his Webley pistol./He lost his nerve however, and could not fire as Jimmy continued to writhe in agony on the ground./The officer ordered one of Jimmy's friends to take the final shot and kill him.//The friend, a private from Everton never recovered from the trauma./Seven decades later, as he faced his own death, still desperately upset, he told his son what had happened. He never forgave himself./Today, Jimmy lies in Kemmel Cheshire Military Cemetery. His gravestone bears the inscription/'Gone, but not forgotten'/This memorial pays respect to Jimmy and the other 305 soldiers of the First World War/who were shot for cowardice or desertion Side 7-Those employed to treat and assist in the recovery of the patients/and to look after the day to day running of the hospital,/were doctors, nurses, assistant steward, assistant clerks,/stores porter, general porters, stokers, electricians,/farm labourers, upholsterers, cooks, kitchen maids, seamstresses,/serving maids, cleaners, watchman and laundry maids//During WW1 the female members of staff at the hospital/took on many of the roles and responsibilities previously held/by male staff who had enlisted into the Armed Forces./The patients themselves were allowed to work on the land/as part of their therapy and the progress of the work/was regularly reported to Parliament/The patients known as "The Boys in Blue", because of /their distinctive blue uniforms, were a part of Maghull for almost 20 years./Eventually, the Military Red Cross Hospital, Moss Side, closed and by 1930/it was handed back to the Board of Control as Moss Side State Institution/It remained open as one of the four Special Hospitals of England/until its closure on 9th December 1995. Side 8-Moss Side Hospital/1914-1995/On this site stood Military Red Cross Hospital,/Moss Side, the pioneering establishment/in the recognition and treatment of 'Shell Shock'/better known today as 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'//The first soldiers from the WW1 conflict/were admitted for treatment on 7th December 1914.// By the Spring of 1918 Moss Side housed almost 500 patients/and between 1914 and 1919 the hospital treated a total of 3,638 patients.//The hospital held pioneering courses for Royal Army Medical Corps doctors/in the management of shell shock. The commissioning of the new hospital/was the task of Mr Charles Cockram, who as clerk and steward/appointed staff of many capabilities during the five weeks before/the hospital's opening in December 1914.

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