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Tragic story of First World War soldier’s suicide

7 February 2014 by Kay

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February is Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans History Month. To help represent and celebrate the lives and achievements of Liverpool’s LGBT community we are highlighting this story of Private William Mason, a King’s Liverpool Regiment soldier who served in the First World War.

Aged just 19, William Mason committed suicide in July 1916. William, from Birkenhead, had enlisted the previous year in Liverpool. He is one of almost 80,000 soldiers listed on our Kings Regiment World War I database. The following information is taken from a Liverpool Echo article, Tuesday 18 July, 1916, featured on the database.

“Unusual particulars transpired at an inquest held at Aldershot on the body of Private William Mason, King’s Liverpool Regiment, who shot himself in camp on Sunday. Mason had been arrested at Dover masquerading as a woman, and had received 107 days’ military detention. He was described as being effeminate, but a good soldier, and one who had been subjected to some amount of “ragging” on account of being so effeminate. He had never threatened suicide. A verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity” was returned”

The story was reported in various newspapers across the country. William is buried in Aldershot Military Cemetery.

Today, homosexual men, lesbians and transgender people are allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces and discrimination on a sexual orientation basis is forbidden.
You can search the database index and also the entire database in the City Soldiers Gallery in the Museum of Liverpool.

Information about events for LGBT History Month at National Musuems Liverpool

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