Harry Albert Fairman

In loving memory of Alice Crossby, widow of John Antill Fairman, who died 5th November 1915, aged 69; Coy Sergt. Major Harry Albert Fairman, their son, who died on 30th April 1916, as the result of wounds received at Gallipoli, aged 38

CWGC: Company Sergeant Major H. A. Fairman, service no. 147, 4th Battalion Royal Scots (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles), died 30 April 1916, aged 38, from wounds received at Gallipoli.  T 395

Harry Albert Fairman was born in Helensburgh, Dumbartonshire, in 1877, the son of John Antill Fairman and his wife Alice Crosby, who married in June 1869.  Alice was the daughter of John Crosby (1804 – 1869), a wine and spirit merchant in Sunderland who was Mayor of Sunderland from November 1868 until his death in February 1869.  

John Fairman was a wine merchant in Sunderland but moved to Dumbartonshire probably in 1872 and in 1881 was listed as a master distiller employing 24 men.  He died in October 1883 of pleurisy aged only 39 and Alice moved to Edinburgh with her two surviving daughters, Winifred and Evelyn, and son Harry.

Harry Fairman was living with his mother and working as an insurance clerk in the 1911 census.  He had also joined the 4th Battalion Royal Scots (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles) territorial force and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1909, Colour Sergeant in 1914 and Company Sergeant Major in 1916.  

The Royal Scots 4th battalion was one of the units which took part in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.  They left Liverpool for Alexandria in May 1915 and landed at Gallipoli on 14 June. Harry was wounded in the shoulder at Gallipoli and returned to the U.K. early in 1916.  Sadly, he was recovering in Didsbury Hall Red Cross Hospital near Manchester and had just been told that he was almost fit enough to return to the front when he killed himself by cutting his throat with a razor on 30 April 1916.  The coroner recorded a verdict of “suicide while insane”.  Suicide was a crime in England until the act (but not assisting it) was decriminalised in 1961.  Coroners and their juries frequently used a verdict of temporary insanity, or similar wording, as a way of acquitting the deceased of the criminal offence of self-murder. 

Harry was buried in the Grange with full military honours.  The floral tributes included one from the staff of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society where he had worked as a clerk.  He was awarded the 15 Star as well as the British War and Victory medals. 

Manchester Evening News, Wednesday, 3 May 1916

The Scotsman, Friday 5 May 1916