Private Robert Bagnall Fleming


Robert Bagnall Fleming was born on 27 July 1890 at Conera, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, the first of three children of jeweller William John Fleming and his wife Sarah (nee Bagnall). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living with his parents and a brother at West Street, Castleblayney, and working as a hairdresser.

Fleming enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Castleblayney on 28 June 1912 (No.710). He gave his occupation as jeweller.

On 6 August 1914, following the outbreak of war, Fleming was mobilised, reporting for duty at Belfast. He soon fell ill, however, and was hospitalised with what was termed 'hysteria'. According to the medical report:

Patient was admitted to hospital upon August 10th 1914. He was then in an extremely nervous condition: his respiration varied between fifty & sixty per minute. His whole body and especially the arms and head kept and still keep constantly shaking in a kind of convulsive spasm. I have visited him three times each day since his admission until the present (August 16) and I have never seen these muscular contractions cease. ... He now complains of headache, sleeplessness and loss of memory and is refusing all food. He is getting rapidly weaker.

He stated that one night, about a year and a half ago, he got a severe fright being suspected of poaching and chased by a gamekeeper. This, he stated, was followed by an attack of severe nervous prostration which incapacitated him from work for over one month.

His present attack he attributes to a chill he got whilst lying in Camp at Richmond barracks.

A medical board held at the Military Hospital in Belfast on 20 August recommended that Fleming be discharged as permanently unfit, and that this was partly due to his military service.

The discharge took place on 4 September 1914 (under paragraph 281(i) of Mobilisation Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'very good'.

After his discharge Fleming returned to Castleblayney. On 13 September 1918 he wrote to the authorities seeking a Silver War Badge:

I was discharged [from] the Army 4/9/14 without pension. I beg to apply for a Silver Badge as I received none on discharge from Victoria Barracks Hospital as unfit for further service. I served in (The North Irish Horse) D Squadron. I lost my discharge papers last week. Would you please forward copy of same as I may require it to obtain employment.

He was informed that he did not qualify for the Badge.