Dr. Archibald Gladstone (Arch) CORBETT

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CORBETT, Archibald Gladstone

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 30 August 1917
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Fitzroy North, Victoria, 18 October 1883
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Wesley College and University of Melbourne
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Suicide (jumped overboard), Toulon, France (at sea), 25 June 1920, aged 36 years
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
No known grave (at sea)
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)*
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World War 1 Service

30 Aug 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer
21 Nov 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer, Medical Officers, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
21 Nov 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer, Medical Officers, HMAT Nestor, Melbourne
30 Apr 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Captain, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
1 May 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Captain, 13th Field Ambulance
29 May 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Captain, 50th Infantry Battalion
25 Jun 1920: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer, 50th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Nathan Rohrlach

Archibald Gladstone Corbett was born in North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria on 18 August 1883 to Charles William Corbett and Emma Foyle. He was educated at Wesley College, Melbourne from 1898 to 1899. Later on he would study a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Melbourne from 1911 to 1916 whilst boarding at Ormond College. He graduated (MBBS) in June 1917 and after a short residency at Melbourne's Children Hospital, he enlisted in the AIF.

Whilst at Melbourne University, Arch (as he was known) Corbett had played 7 games in the Victorian Football League (VFL) for 'University' as the team was simply known. In 1912 he played 4 games (rounds 5 - 8) with the Guernsey number 30 - University lost all of its games he played in, however. Next year, in 1913 he played 3 games (rounds 2,15 and 17) for University with the jumper number 23 - once again, however, University lost all three of those games. Corbett had also played football for Wesley College.  

 

Then on 25 June 1920, when the ship was in the waters near Toulon on the coast of France, Dr Archibald Gladstone Corbett jumped off the ship and into the waters below.

The next morning, he was reported missing from the ship and a soon after, a chilling note was found, left in his cabin:

"Have had insomnia for over six weeks past. In the past two veronal has been used but it is now having no effect. Can only see myself going mad, which is intolerable. So better to go overboard. This depression is intolerable. Corbett."

Later the same day a court of inquiry was held on the ship were it was concluded that he had jumped off the ship to commit suicide and was thus declared Drowned at Sea. There were witnesses to the event and people on board the ship at the time said they had noticed no change in Dr Corbett’s general disposition.

His name was memorialised on the Australian National War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux. He was 36 years old.

Ultimately the note left in his cabin is a chilling reminder of the unseen emotional and psychological cost of war among those present. Dr Corbett is therefore, one of many undiagnosed cases of ‘shell shock’ or modern day ‘post-traumatic-stress-disorder’ that occurred during World War One and claimed so many lives afterwards.

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