We have several stories of the effect the war had on soldiers but fewer on how the families coped with the tragedies and loss.This article from the Shipley Times & Express on 23 December 1920, gives a glimpse of one family’s tragedy.An inquest was held at the Shipley Fire Station on Monday by the District Coroner, Mr E W Norris, on Joseph Keighley (66), a mill labourer of 57 Titus Street, Saltaire, whose body was recovered from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Hirst Lock, Saltaire, on Friday.Ann Keighley, widow of the deceased, stated that in 1919, consequent on losing two sons in the war, her husband had become very depressed and expressed the wish that he was dead.MelancholyIn June that year he became so melancholy that he was removed to Menston Asylum and had only come home on 20th November.The witness said her husband appeared normal and had assured her she had no need to worry.On Saturday week the deceased had
gone out to his son’s house at 50 Eden Street Manningham and after having dinner had returned home, stating that his son had invited him to come to Manningham whenever he felt inclined.On Tuesday last week the deceased had again set out to go to his son’s place in Manningham. At 3.30 in the afternoon, as he had not returned, the witness went to Manningham and found that her husband had never reached his son’s house.She then informed the police.Charles Vanderstock, a canal boat workman of 34 Hill Street, Bingley, stated that he found the body of the deceased at 5.30 a.m. on Friday morning at Hirst Lock.The witness found he could not open the top gates of the locks and found the body between two gate ends.Dr Edgerley, Superintendent of
Menston Asylum, stated that the deceased was admitted to the asylum suffering from melancholia in June 1919.DischargedHis condition improved, then he had a relapse, but on the whole he made steady progress and when he was discharged by two members of the Menston Asylum Committee, on the recommendation of the medical superintendent, the deceased had completely recovered from his depressionThe Coroner, summing up, remarked that the deceased’s depression had apparently passed away when he was discharged from the asylum and he was quite satisfied that the asylum authorities were justified in allowing the man to return home.He was also satisfied that the deceased’s wife had no idea that her husband still retained suicidal tendencies. No blame was attached to anybody. It was possible that the renewal of old associations and the visit to his sons had brought about a recurrence of his mental depression.