|How they died:||Extracts from "John Usborne,
by his daughter Ann Usborne
|During the last two years of
the First World War the atmosphere in the North of India was tense and
dangerous with frequent bloody riots as the Muslims and Sikhs fought for
their rights against the Hindus. While the province simmered Charlie was
a tireless commisioner working non-stop through the debilitating heat of
the summer of 1918 in the Plains. Many from the Indian Civil Service
collapsed from overwork coupled with ill health. Charlie had a physical
and mental break-down in December 1918.
In 1919, at the end of April, still suffering deep depression and weakened by virulent Asian Flu, he went home on sick leave. Arriving home he soon decided that the household was being run competently without him. His unhappiness clouded the air; nothing could be done to please him. Tommy disliked his father's old-fashioned method of teaching Latin and was disappointed that the bandages on his father's head were not covering war-wounds but boils.
Familiar with her husbands tendency to depression Janet urged him to see one of the psychiatrists in London. On the day of his appointment he returned prematurely. With a look of horror on her face Janet guessed, rightly, that Charlie had refused to see the doctor. He was beyond the ability to help himself. On November 6th during a week-end Grouse shooting in the Yorkshire dales-- the last stop on a tour with Janet of her relatives, planned for him as a change of scene-- he shot himself in the churchyard of the village of Wensley. To Janet it was a great sadness, but a relief; long before his death Charlie had suicide in mind. To his younger sister Dorothy, his confidante, he had, over the years, often threatened it -- and out of sorrow and despair she had not tried very hard to discourage it. He had realized that conditions in India might might drive him to it. Probably he had realized also that his marriage was a mismatch.
children knew for some time that their mother was ailing. But she kept
from them the fact that she had breast cancer, and that she faced death
at the age of fifty. The boys were away at school and university; only
Margaret aged ten was still at home with her in Battle. During her last
months, Janet organised her life round the reclining chair at the
On April 9th 1929, in the Easter holidays, knowing she had only days left, Janet packed two small suitcases for John and Margaret. She planned that, with their cocker spaniel Jerry and their cat Jummy, they should be away staying with their Watson cousins in Surrey when she died. Her 22 year old niece Helen Lefroy had come from her parents house in Bideford to help run the house-hold, and her uncle Pat Smythe, Provost of St. Ninians in Perth had come down from Scotland to give her spiritual consolation.
Her last words to uncle Pat were "something wonderful is happening to me". Her religion and pride in her family had given her her courage.
It was astonishing to her children that she had kept the truth from them. She was cremated in Woking.
The church at Wensley