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Marmaduke Henry Cogan Kelham (1888-1933)

Born in France served with 10th DLI at Ypres, medically discharged with shell shock

Lieutenant Marmaduke Henry Cogan Kelham was born in Sainte Addresse, Haut Normandie, France in 1888 of British parentage. His father, Robert Maunsell Kelham, was a merchant in France and his mother, Janet Agneta Louise (nee Cogan), was born in Greenwich, the daughter of a surgeon. They were married in 1879 in London. Marmaduke’s older brother Reverend Robert Cecil Kelham was born in 1883 and died in New Zealand in 1927.

On 17 August 1914, aged 24 years, Marmaduke applied for ‘Appointment to a Temporary Commission in the Regular Army for the period of the War’ which was restricted to those who had served as a cadet or ex-cadet in the Senior Division Officer Training Corps or was or had been a member of a university. He arrived at the recruitment centre from Cambridge University where he had served for one year in the university’s Officer Training Corps (OTC) and was attached to 10th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI).

His height of 5’1” would be a distinct disadvantage in the mud of Flanders where he fought and was severely wounded at Ypres Belgium on 13 November 1915. He was diagnosed with neurasthenia/shell shock and embarked from Calais on 17 January 1916. Some soldiers attributed the cases of shell shock to the German ‘minenwerfer’ which was a fearsome weapon that demolished Allied front line trenches. The effects of the relentless bombardment were experienced by men of all ranks whether experienced or not, some were unable to move or talk and many men feared being shell shocked more than being wounded, and were very sympathetic to the sufferers.

Marmaduke was granted sick leave from 10 January to 20 March 1916. During this time, he was resident at the Officers’ Homes, 4th London Hospital, Denmark Hill, London where the treatment of shell shock had advanced from earlier electric shock, electric baths and other physical treatments to treatment of neurasthenia/shell shock as a psychiatric condition as well as what was thought to be the physical effect of a shell blast on the brain. The Military considered there were two types of shell shock, one as the result of a shell exploding next to the sufferer and the other when symptoms occurred without being in the vicinity of an exploding shell.

Marmaduke’s record shows that his condition was caused by exposure to shell fire and stress of combat. His symptoms at his first Medical Board on 21 January 1916 were listed as; “headaches, fine tremors of hands and tongue, heart’s condition irregular and rapid, complains of constant headaches with tinnitus auorum and loss of self-confidence and sleeps badly”. He was declared unfit for General Service and granted two weeks sick leave after which he was to report to his unit for light duties at home in an office.

He was posted to Penkridge Camp, Rugeley, Staffordshire and then to 7th Battalion, Royal Defence Corps, Sunderland and Tyne Garrison, Blyth. Over the next two years he was required to attend monthly and sometimes fortnightly Medical Boards. The Boards all continued to return him to his unit for light duties in an office up until a Special Medical Board held on 5 December 1917 at Bede Tower Military Hospital, Sunderland. At Abram Peel Auxiliary Hospital, Bradford on 24 December 1917 he was declared permanently unfit for further military service: back in Sunderland he was found unfit for any service on 15 January 1918 and permanently relinquished his commission on account of ill health on 11 February 1918 with a gratuity of £250 0s 0d.

He immediately applied to join the Executive Staff of the Committee Internationale de Ravitaillement, India House, Kingsway, London, which was an organisation set up initially by the French and British to authorise procurement of all military supplies for the war effort. Marmaduke applied to the department dealing with Greek and Serbian supplies; he had qualified in French and Spanish for the Intelligence Corps in September 1916 and previously studied for the Consular Service. It was understood that he would receive no remuneration from the commission. It is not known whether his application was successful but he did join the Consular Service after the war ended and served with the Foreign Office as Vice Consul and Charge d’Affaires in Cuba and South America where his knowledge of Spanish would be very useful.

He travelled to Cuba in 1924 and 1926; sailed back to the UK in 1929 from Buenos Aires having served as British Consulate General, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. On 23 September 1929 he was appointed HM Consul for the Republic of Honduras. On 15 October 1931 he sailed on the Orcoma bound for Valparaiso and landed at Cristobal, Panama on his way to Honduras, where he died two years later on 11 April 1933 in the Hospital La Policlinica, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, aged 44 years. His widowed mother was sole beneficiary of £7507 7s 2d.

This information was derived from the officers service records, held at The National Archives, Kew, London: WO 339/48485

Birth date: 30-Aug-1888

Death date: 11-Apr-1933

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 2 Tedworth Square, Chelsea, London SW (1911 census)
Officers’ Home, 105 Denmark Hill, London SE
5 Shelley Court, Chelsea

Education: University of Cambridge

Employment: Private Means
Charge d’Affaires Cuba
British Consul General Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
HM Consul for Republic Honduras

Family: Parents: Robert Maunsell Kelham (1849-1998), Janet Agneta Louise Kelham (nee Cogan)
Sibling: Rev Robert Cecil Kelham (1883-1927)

Military service:

Pre-war service: 1 year University of Cambridge OTC
Service Number 45331
10th Battalion, DLI
16th Reserve Battalion, DLI Penkridge Camp, Rugeley, Staffs 16-Aug-1916
transferred 10-Oct-1916 from 10th (Service) Battalion to DLI (Regular List) and
ordered to join 3rd Special Reserve Battalion at South Shields
7th Battalion, Royal Defence Corps, Sunderland

Medal(s): 1915 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by MJE, Darlington