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from the Telegraph Thursday 21 June 2001

Old soldier dies after 77 years in hospital

By Auslan Cramb
Scottish Correspondent

A WAR veteran who never recovered from the horror of the trenches has died aged 103 after spending the past 77 years in a psychiatric hospital.

David Ireland enlisted in 1916 at Kirkcaldy, Fife, days after his 18th birthday, joining the Highland Cyclist battalion of the 3rd Royal Highlanders, The Black Watch.

He was sent to France as a dispatch cyclist relaying messages from trench to trench under heavy fire and was hit by a German biplane. He rejoined the war in April 1917 at the Battle of Arras and was shot in the knee.

A year after the war ended, Mr Ireland was discharged from the Army, deemed unfit for military service.

He returned to Cupar, Fife, where he had been brought up, and worked as a gardener. But in 1924 he was admitted to nearby Stratheden Hospital when his memories returned to haunt him.

Four years ago, at the age of 100, he became only the fifth Scottish World War One veteran to be awarded the Legion d'Honneur, the French government's highest award for gallantry.

Freda McKenzie, a senior charge nurse, said: "He was a proper gentleman and although he didn't mingle with other patients he was well liked. This hospital has been his whole life."

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