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100-YEARS-AGO: TRAGEDY OF SALFORD EX- SOLDIER ON BLACKPOOL NORTH PIER


History With Flynn

This  story from the pages of The Salford City Reporter, October 1920 tells the story of a Salford man whose actions were truly heart-breaking and you have to find pity for him.

On a Tuesday evening on the North Pier, Blackpool, a man named as William ***** residing in the Broughton area of Salford, (I haven't given his full name and address for personal reasons) approached a pier attendant and told him the following.

"I have dropped my five week old baby son, into the sea"

A quick look into the empty baby pram confirmed that, what he had said, was true.

Eye witnesses say that his behaviour beforehand was strange and the empty baby pram confirmed their suspicions.

When asked why he had done this, he replied,

"There were 5,000 of them that went out, and only 50 came back"

Whilst telling this he was groaning and holding his head as if in agony, which added to the scene of confusion and horror.

The police were summoned and he was taken to the Blackpool Central Station for questioning, a search for the missing child was carried out. to no avail.

Inspector Seed and Detective McKenna were put in charge of the case, they brought the man's wife to the station to see if she could shed any light on this tragedy.

She told them that her husband had suffered from shell shock in The Great War and was being treated for depression at a local hospital and that they had come to Blackpool for a few days in the hope that the rest and change would do him good.

Dr R. H. Dunderdale was called to give him a psychiatric examination and as a result he was declared insane and removed to a mental institution.

He was not brought up before a court and it was expected that owing to his condition, no charge would be made against him.

Despite a careful search the infant's body had not been recovered from the sea, it was stated that the high tide was a t 5.30pm yesterday the time of the tragedy, and at 7pm there was a strong current running out to sea and the body would have been quickly carried away.

A further search of the beach was carried out the next day extending to Bispham but still no sign of the body.

I looked through several weeks' editions of the Salford paper and there was no story of the body being found, a tragic tale.

The poor man must have seen some terrible sights in the army to drive him insane. many thousands of men suffered from shell shock and it's hard to believe but for a while the army considered soldiers suffering from this lacked moral fibre, i.e they were cowards.

The poor wife must have been dealt a hammer blow in losing a child in such an awful way, would she ever recover?

Without doubt the saddest story I have ever come across in the years of writing these stories.


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