|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
Special Hospital for Officers, Latchmere
Church Road, Ham Common, Richmond, Surrey TW10 5HH
|1915 - 1939
During WW1 Latchmere, a Victorian mansion on Ham Common, was taken over by Lord Knutsford's committee for establishing hospitals for shell-shocked officers. It opened in November 1915 as a Special Hospital for (Army) Officers.
At first admissions were limited to small numbers until additional accommodation was built in 1917. The Hospital then had 51 beds. An order was issued that insane officers should be sent to Latchmere (psychoneurotic but not insane officers were sent to Lord Knutsford's other hospital for shell-shocked officers at Palace Green).
At the end of November 1918, just as WW1 had ended, one of the patients, Sidney Hume, a former RFC pilot, shot and killed a soldier orderly before escaping. He was convicted of murder in 1919 and spent 49 years in Broadmoor. before being released in 1968.
By the end of the war some 95 psychotic officers had been treated at Latchmere.
The Hospital came under the control of the Ministry of Pensions hospital and, by 1935, had 20 beds for severely disabled officers.
It remained a Ministry of Pensions hospital
until the outbreak of WW2 in 1939.
Present status (October 2009)During WW2 Latchmere became a special MI5 interrogation centre, codenamed Camp 020, run by Lt.-Col. Robin Stephens, nicknamed 'Tin Eye' because of the thick monocle he wore. Many British Blackshirts were interrogated at the centre, as were enemy spies to see if they could be used as double agents (those who couldn't were sent to the Tower of London to be hanged or shot). Conditions were harsh inside the centre and suicide was not uncommon amongst the prisoners.
In 1948 Latchmere was taken over by the Prison Service of the Home Office, who used it variously as a junior and senior detention centre, a young offender institution and an immigration centre for detainees.
In 1992 it became a resettlement prison. It is now HMP Latchmere House, with accommodation for 207 prisoners.
The entrance to HMP Latchmere House on Church Road (left).
At the main entrance, looking along Bainbridge Close and Latchmere Close into the campus (right).
Baird H 1941 Psychoses in officers in the 1914-1918 war. Jourmal of Mental Science 87, 109-114.
Barham P 2007 Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War. Yale University Press.
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