Researching your family can often uncover events that can be quite emotional. It’s amazing how invested we can become in someone that we have never met, or who lived many years prior to us even being born. This was the case with James Francis Gettings, a young man who took his own life at the age of 23. James had joined the Army around 1924 and was a member of the Border Regiment that was attached to the Machine Gun Corps, during the inter-war years. At this time, the Battalion was on garrison duties in countries such as Malta, India, Sudan and China and it was while serving in China, that James contracted malaria.
James had been corresponding with a young lady named Lilian Braithwaite for quite sometime and her testimony would be used to deliver the verdict at the inquest into James’ death. In March of 1928, James was on three days leave and had decided to stay with his sister Jane and her husband, in Salford. In his letters to Lilian, he wanted to meet up with her and asked her if she ever felt depressed. She replied that she new what that felt like and James took this as the impetus to ask if she would “like to make it a double event of it?” Lilian thought James was asking her to go away with him and as this was not the done thing for the time, replied that she did not want her “name coupling with his”. James told her she would not be here to hear it mentioned so why did it matter, and then went on to state that she would not see him again. Lilian had testified that she was relieved that she had not gone to Salford to meet him that day.
James took his service revolver and shot himself on the steps to the Salford Infirmary on his 23rd birthday. He was quickly taken to theatre and operated on but did not regain consciousness and died the next day. While we can only speculate as to the reasons for James’ decisions, or the state of his mental health, it is a very sad and tragic end to a young mans life.