A member of the O'Neill family recently left a comment on one of those posts telling me that Dennis's brother Terry, who was with Dennis when he died, has written the story of his life. It is on the website Authonomy - it seems you have to register to read the books there - under the title Never Again.
This book is important not just for its account of events at Bank Farm but also for the picture it paints of public childcare in the immediate post-war years. I shall write about it at greater length one day.
The blurb for the book runs:
Born into a dysfunctional family of eight children, Terence and two brothers were taken into care in 1940, judged to be in need of care and protection. They were moved from Newport to Herefordshire and for a few short years things went well.
In 1944 things changed when the boys were separated, Terence and Dennis were handed over to the Gough’s on a remote Shropshire farm. Six months later Dennis was found dead, killed by starvation and violence. Both boys had suffered punishments and hunger.
Terence was the main prosecution witness at the manslaughter trial of the Gough’s. The trial aroused world wide attention, and took preference over the war news in March 1945. This was followed by a public enquiry into the care system chaired by Sir Walter Monckton, K.C. M.G. and led to the Children Act of 1948. The trial caught the interest of Agatha Christie who it is said based The Mousetrap the world famous play on this tragedy.
Terence still has difficulty with his memories and the fact that similar tragedies are still happening. He tells of his struggle to cope with ordinary life after spending thirteen years being shunted about in the care system.