A Survivor’s Story – the Effects of Shell Shock

John Russell Pearson Cobbett was born about the 3rd quarter of 1898 in Wrecclesham (1901 Census), the son of Laura Elizabeth Cobbett, who was about 34 years of age at the time of his birth and whose family were from Hampshire.

Surviving WWI military records indicate that he enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment on 22 August 1916 and was discharged from the 17th Sussex on 23 August 1919, due to ‘sickness’.

On 28 April 1923, he married Margaret Lilian Nixon at Farnham Parish Church. Ten days later, however, on 8 May, 1923, as described in a report in the Woking News and Mail (11 May 1923, page 7), he was detained by police after being seen running naked through Farnham Borough in an apparently disturbed state of mind.

It is known that Mr Cobbett was a patient at Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon, prior to 1923, and the report in the Woking News & Mail concludes with the suggestion that Mr Cobbett’s behaviour was most likely due to a recurrence of the symptoms of shell shock, the reason for which he may have been discharged from the Army in 1919.

John Russell Pearson Cobbett died at the very early age of 42 on 12 July 1941 at Brookwood Hospital, Woking, after an illness of some three weeks. A funeral service took place at Farnham Parish Church, followed by interment at Green Lane Cemetery, Farnham, on 17 July 1941. An extensive obituary appeared in the Farnham Herald (19 July 1941, page 5).

John Russell Cobbett Obituary.

Title: John Russell Cobbett Obituary.
Description: Obituary of John R P Cobbett, Farnham Herald, 19/7/1941, Page 5. by-nc

Woking News & Mail, 11/5/1923

Title: Woking News & Mail, 11/5/1923
Description: Report on the detaining of John Cobbett in Farnham in 1923. by-nc



In Memoriam

“SPOONER.—In proud and thankful remembrance of Edward S. Spooner, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, son of Stephen Spooner, Hermitage Road, St. John’s, killed in action, Fampoux, Arras, 23rd April, 1917.
‘Death—swallowed up in Victory.’”

Woking News & Mail, Friday, April 22, 1921. Page 5.