The AIF Project

Edward Patrick HUGHES

Regimental number606
Place of birthLurgan near Belfast, Ireland
Place of birthBelfast, Co Antrim, Ireland
SchoolChristian Brothers (Catholic) School, Lurgan, Ireland
Age on arrival in Australia32
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationProspector
AddressGreen Bushes, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation38
Height5' 11"
Weight161 lbs
Next of kinMrs M A Hughes, Mount Ava, Bloomfield, Belfast, Co Antrim, Ireland
Previous military serviceServed for 13 years in the British Army.; Joined British Army at 18 years of age.
Enlistment date22 October 1914
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Field Ambulance, Reinforcement 1
AWM Embarkation Roll number26/44/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A35 Berrima on 22 December 1914
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Field Ambulance
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularJoined South African Police Force after 10 years in India.
FateReturned to Australia 20 March 1915
Age at death41
Age at death from cemetery records40
Place of burialCoburg Cemetery (Section Roman Catholic, Grave No. 85E), Victoria
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
183
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Mr and Mary HUGHES. Native of Lurgan, Belfast. Death by suicide
Other details

War service: Egypt

Medical Board, Mena Camp, Cairo, 17 February 1915, found that Hughes was suffering bubouococle (venereal disease), and recommended his discharge as permanently unfit for military service.

Hughes wrote to Captain ABBOTT, OC, Troopship 'Ulysses', 21 March 1915: 'Sir, I have the honour to call your attention to the following facts. Having served 12 years as a soldier in the 86th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, also 6 years in the Natal Mounted Police, leaving both with an excellent character and honours, I had the misfortune to join the A.I.F. I was arrested drunk in Camp at Abbassia on the 14th inst., my first crime since joining the A.I.F. I was sentenced to 7 days in the Detention Barracks on the 14th inst., which I understood expired on Sunday 20th inst., as 50 men who were sentenced to same punishment at the same time were released on 20th inst. Perhaps had I not had the misfortune to be an Irishman or an ex-British soldier. Their (sic) was only a guard [ ... document illegible] with loaded Rifles & fixed bayonets [ ... illegible] of us 5 Medically unfit from Abbassia Barracks on board ship. I had the honour during the S. African War of assisting in escorting 50 Dutch prisoners from L[ady]Smith to Durban with an escort of about 36 British soldiers. We allowed them the privilege of shaking hands or speaking to their friends on leaving, a privilege we were denied. I think I like my sentence it was pretty hard as on this day I had the misfortune to get drunk I met a few Irish friends in the Canteen and we upheld our Irishmen's day as we expected to be parted on the 17th, St Patrick's Day. I have the misfortune to be returning to Australia as Medically Unfit for War Service. I am not ashamed to return as I think I have done my bit as a soldier for my King & Country as I have something to show for same. I am greatly surprised we were not leg-ironed & handcuffed as I understood we had passed the old Nelson days as I think they have passed in England. I thought Australia had done the same on arrival at Abbassia Camp and on board ship. I have asked to see an Officer but have been refused. If this is soldiering I think as an experienced soldier I will give in. I think it is a case of making a criminal of a man whether his intentions are inclined in such a way or not & whether he likes it or not. On entering Abbassia Detention Barracks I was in possession of a walking stick which cost me 50 piastres. I handed same with some other private kit to S.M. Ross. On leaving above place Capt. Williams, Officer-in-Charge, refused to return me the same. Hoping I will receive some satisfaction to above facts.'

Commenced return to Australia on board HT 'Ulysses', 22 March 1915; disembarked Melbourne, 15 April 1915. On return from Egypt, Hughes was sent to the Venereal Hospital, Langwarrin. The Medical Officer there certified that Hughes was not suffering from venereal disease. AAG, 3rd Military District, wrote, 27 April 1915: 'Hughes objects to being classed and treated as a venereal case and asks for a medical board.' Medical Board, 28 April 1915, found that Hughes was not suffering from venereal disease [The Board 'considers the lesion is not venereal but simple inguinal hernia which has probably been there a long time. If operation is done, he ought to be fit to resume duty in six weeks.'], and that arrangements were to be made for him to be operated on for simple right inguinal hernia, 3 May 1915. Certified fit for discharge, 24 May 1915.

Died (self-administered poison), 14 June 1915.

Captain J.R. HEATH, Staff Officer, Invalids, Melbourne, reported, 19 October 1915: 'When he [HUGHES] was discharged from No 5 AGH after the operation for small hernia, he reported to you, and he was given leave. While on leave he came into the barracks two or three times and on each occasion reported to me at your office. Pte Hughes's mental condition in my opinion was not quite normal, he had been worrying a good deal about being sent back to Australia instead of being operated on in Egypt. This matter was always uppermost with him, and when the Police informed me that he had committed suicide, I was sorry to think that the worry had had such a result, I tried to get him to look at the matter in a different light, and he promised me he would. He did not at anytime give me the impression that he had a suicidal tendency.'

Died in Melbourne Hospital, St Kilda Road, 14 June 1915, of phosphorus poisoning self-administered.

Coroner ruled: 'I find that he died by his own act. There is evidence of mental illness at the time.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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