Captain Frederick Thomas COULCHER (240285) - War Grave

Captain Frederick Thomas Coulcher (240285) war grave
Captain Frederick Thomas Coulcher (240285)

Captain Frederick Thomas Coulcher (240285) - 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
Died on the 30th December 1944 (age 30) at Brugge Hospital after an operation
BRUGGE GENERAL CEMETERY, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium - Grave Reference: Plot 63. Row 4. Grave 5.
Son of Frederick George and Winifred B. Coulcher; husband of Ivy Winifred Coulcher, of Southgate, Middlesex.

From letters sent by Freddie Coulcher to his wife and subsequent medical records which came to light, we can now explain the unusual circumstances of his death.
In the late autumn of 1944 Freddie mentioned in his letters home that he was having problems with stomach pains and whilst the battalion was at Brunssum at the beginning of December he went into hospital. X-rays and further investigations followed but were inconclusive and he discharged himself on 11th December. 2 days later the Battalion Medical Officer, Captain Duff-Chalmers insisted he return to hospital which he did on 17th December. This time he was taken to a hospital in Brugge which was some distance from the front. Further tests and X-rays followed which again proved inconclusive.
Whilst he was still in hospital at Brugge, on the 30th December 1944 he again complained of stomach pains and it was therefore decided to perform an operation known as a retrograde pyelography for the investigation of renal colic. After the operation Captain Coulcher's condition steadily deteriorated and in spite of constant attention he died the same day, around 5pm. It was found that his death was the result of sodium tellurite and further enquiries revealed that during the operation a powder taken from a bottle labelled "sodium iodide" was administered in solution, but it was later established that this bottle, in fact, contained sodium tellurite. Investigations which followed shown that the label "sodium iodide" was on the bottle concerned before it reached the hospital. At the time the War Office, in a letter to Freddie’s family, on the 23rd June 1945 said that further enquiries were being made into the matter, but there were no further communication with regards these further enquiries.
Sadly, Freddie was inadvertently poisoned and the family were none the wiser as to what his underlying illness was.

(Photos provided by Chris Coulcher his son)