Private Philip Lillie


Phillip Lillie was born on 11 July 1882 at Moore Street, Monasterevin, County Kildare, the last of three children of RIC constable Henry Burris Lillie and his wife Fanny Jane (née Bracken). His mother died when he just a year old and his father when he was fourteen. At the time of the 1901 Census he and his brother Henry were living at Aghamore, County Roscommon, with his grandmother, two of her children and her grand-daughter. Ten years later he was living at nearby Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, with his brother David William (a land clerk and shop and hotel keeper) and his wife, and was working as a land steward.

Lillie enlisted in the South Irish Horse at Dublin on 22 December 1915 (No.1897). He gave his age as 27 (his true age was 33) and his occupation as farmer. On 22 March 1916, however, he was transferred to the North Irish Horse (No.2132).

On 6 May that year, Regimental Sergeant Major Scammell wrote to the doctor at the regiment's Antrim camp:

... Pte. Lillee P. Depot Squadron is at present sitting by the fire in the Guard Room. He does not appear to be quite right in his mind. He states he is afraid of the men in his room and will not stay in the room with them. He spent last night in the Guard Room and this morning after being sent to you for examination he returned to the Guard Room and will not leave there. He complains that at times he is worried and hears stories about himself and does not know what he is doing.

I have made careful enquiries as to whether any of the men have been worrying him or in any way interfering with him, and I find there is no grounds whatever for his suspicions – it is purely imagination. His particular friend Pte. Hussey states that he has been very melancholy lately and yesterday, he stated he was afraid of Hussey and would not go near him again.

Lillie was admitted to a hospital in Belfast, where he was diagnosed to be suffering from melancholia. On 22 May a medical board recommended that he be discharged as permanently unfit for military service. This took place on 7 June 1916 (paragraph 392(xvi), King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'good'. 'No offence during his 168 days service. Discharged for medical reasons.'

Following his discharge Lillie returned to Carrick-on-Shannon. He died in the Sligo Asylum on 14 March 1919, aged 36, his cause of death recorded as dementia (2 years), and pulmonary tuberculosis (6 months).