...."At Redditch on Wednesday, a man named John Shannon, who said he came from Birmingham, was charged with vagrancy. He appeared rather strange in his manner, and said he left Birmingham because people were chasing him about on bicycles. Supt. Hayes said the prisoner had been out in South Africa for nearly three years. He had been a driver in the Field Artillery, and his discharge papers, which were found upon him, gave him an excellent character. Prisoner was sober when found, but he was absolutely destitute. On the suggestion of Supt. Hayes, prisoner was sentenced to six days' Imprisonment in the second division, and the chairman promised to write to Mr. Wood, chairman of the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society, respecting him." Worcestershire Chronicle, Saturday 23rd August 1902
I wonder why he was suffering from delusions. Any record of him suffering from sunstroke or any other disease while in South Africa?
A check through my RA CD shows a "71727 Dvr. John Shannon" served with 65th Battery, RFA and earned the clasps Cape Colony and Orange Free State on his QSA. Marginal note says "served with 7th Div. Ammunition Column'. WO100/142. No other marginal note. Given the legal system of the time - should "71727 Dvr. John Shannon" be the man in Reddich Court - a relatively humane sentence was handed down. The letter to the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society may have helped.
I'm not 100% sure about this, but there seems to be a fine line between vagrancy and begging, however, being convicted of either could mean up to a month's imprisonment with hard labour.
Vagrants and tramps could get temporary accommodation in the casual ward of the local workhouse - they had to first go to the local police station and would then be directed to the workhouse. As Shannon had his discharge papers, and was of good character, he would likely have been allowed to do that.
"Imprisonment in the second division" meant you didn't have to do hard labour, and you wouldn't tend to be associating with people who had previous convictions.
"71727 Dvr. John Shannon is also entitled to the Transvaal clasp and the KSA medal ( usual 2 date clasps).
Had a quick look at the West Midlands police records. Only one entry I could find regarding a John Shannon (alias Murphy)
he was arrested for wounding a PC Randal and was sentenced to 18 months in prison 1886. He would have been about 22 at the time. I don't think this is the same man, but is the only entry in the records pertaining to Redditich & Birmingham. Certainly a more serious crime than vagrancy / begging.
Will keep looking for his RFA service record if available, there may be some clues to his time in South Africa , especially his medical record which may help understanding his welfare after the war.
PS . There is another John Shannon listed as a gunner 12184 57th Coy RGA......KSA Medal roll / QSA 5 bars Belfast,Cape Colony, Tugela Heights,Relief of Ladysmith & Laings Nek.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.