Sunday’s Obituary – Daniel John Burns (1897-1928)

Daniel John Burns is my wife’s 2nd cousin 1x removed. His birth is registered in the first quarter of 1897 in Glamorganshire, Wales. Daniel’s parents are Thomas Burns and Lucy Skelding. The family connection between Daniel and my wife is from William Skelding and Catherine Taylor – my wife’s 2x great grandparents.

Daniel appears in the 1901 and 1911 census returns in Llanbradach, Glamorganshire. He was the last of nine children born to Thomas and Lucy.

In 1911 at the age of 13 Daniel’s occupation as given in the census is “coal miner hewer”.

When WW1 started Daniel enlisted for service at Caerphilly on 11 December 1915. He was initially assigned to the Army Reserve with the 17th Lancers.

On 26 April 1918 Daniel had another medical examination and was subsequently transferred to the Tank Corps with a regimental service number of 313324 on 10 September 1918.

After the end of hostilities Daniel was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on 16 January 1919. The Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Within nine years Daniel would be dead.

As far as I can tell Daniel returned to the coal mines after the war. Sadly though, it appears he started to suffer with mental health issues and was admitted to the Angleton Asylum in Bridgend, Wales around May 1927.

The following article is from the Western Mail on 12 October 1928.

Daniel John Burns - Western Mail 12 October 1928.png

BRIDGEND PATIENTS ACT

The practice of allowing certain patients to be on parole without attendants was defended by Dr. McGregor, assistant medical officer at the Glamorgan County Medical Hospital, Bridgend, at the inquest at Bridgend on Thursday on Daniel John Burns (31), assistant haulier, Llanbradach, who threw himself under an omnibus.

Dr. McGregor explained that patients were only allowed to go out in this way when the medical staff were satisfied that their recovery was practically complete.

The Coroner said no criticism could be levelled at the institution.

The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity” and exonerated the driver from blame.

Some of the other headlines reporting the events were not quite as moderate. For example the 

Belfast Telegraph said: LUNATIC JUMPS UNDER OMNIBUS

Northern Whig (County Antrim, Northern Ireland) said: LUNATIC JUMPS UNDER BUS

Hull Daily Mail  said: MENTAL PATIENT’S FATAL WALK

I’m left wondering whether it was the impact of war that caused Daniel’s ill health – probably something that wasn’t acknowledged then.

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