Not all war deaths are caused by war

I researched Louis Breban the other day. Born on the island of Jersey in 1891, he decided the army was for him. He went along to his local recruiting office and signed up. This was in 1908, and he continued with the East Surrey Regiment for the rest of his life.

He served four years in India and, when the Great War started, he was shipped out to France. He managed to survive quite a while (unlike most of the people I research) and was then sent to Greece.

All was well for a bit, but then, almost six months later, there was a rather odd accident. He was riding his horse, when he was thrown. According to the many hand scrawled witness accounts I endeavoured to translate, his horse suddenly reared, and he came off.

Witnesses were a fellow horseman, and a bunch of Royal Engineers who had heard a commotion and went to investigate. Stretcher bearers were called for. They soon appeared, and he was bundled away for the brief trip to a casualty clearing station.

But it was all too little, too late. He was dead. He died from a fractured skull as a result of the fall. At least that was the preliminary findings by the doctor who first examined him.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cause of death on his file. A lot of WWI service files were either destroyed or badly damaged as a result of the Blitz and because they were stored in London.

Louis was buried in Lembet Road, Cemetery at Salonika, Greece. He hadn’t been able to visit his parents for two years.

At least his death was quick.

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