CWG: Private Edwin Hann

Private Edwin Hann

Edwin Robert Hann was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Albert Edward and Jemima Jane Hann in around 1900. Albert had been born in Glastonbury, Somerset, but had emigrated by the 1890s, where he met and married Jemima.

Research has led me to numerous dead ends regarding Edwin’s life. Hann’s tombstone shows that he enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of the South African Infantry.

The 2nd Regiment served in numerous key battles on the Western Front, including Ypres, Passchendaele, Marrieres Wood and Messines. Their last major engagement was at Le Cateau in early October 1918. Given how soon afterwards Private Hann passed away, it seems possible that he was fatally wounded – or at least suffered trauma – during this battle.

His war pension records suggest that he died at a military hospital in Woking, Surrey. A little research suggests that, unless this was the medical wing of the local army barracks, then it is likely that Hann was treated at the former Brookwood Hospital (at the time known as Brookwood Asylum or the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum).

While I can find nothing concrete to confirm this, other Brookwood records suggest that fellow patients were either suffering the effects of shell shock or mustard gas. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that Private Hann passed away as an indirect result of the fighting on the front, rather than a direct one.

Edwin Robert Hann died aged just 18 years old. His body was brought back to his grandparents, and he lies at rest in the cemetery in Glastonbury, Somerset.

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