Sawyer, Percy 1914 Oct 30th Tilshead
Three Canadians Dead
Kicked by a Horse
As announced in last weeks Times, a second Canadian soldier has died shortly after his arrival at the camp on Salisbury Plain. But whereas the first, Private W H V Hartley was found dead by the roadside, having apparently been suffocated by sleeping face downwards on some weeds, the second, Gunner Percy Sawyer (of the Headquarters Staff, Divisional Artillery) died as the result of a kick from a runaway horse.
An inquest was held at West Down North Camp, Tilshead, on Friday afternoon by the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan).
Albert Sawyer, driver in the Ammunition Column, 2nd Brigade Divisional Canadian Artillery, said that Gunner Percy Sawyer was about 20 years of age, and was stationed at West Down North Camp. His home was at Oxted, Surrey. He had arrived in the Quebec Garrison Artillery.
Shoeing Smith James Edgar Buck stated that about 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning he was working at his forge in the lines when he saw a horse galloping and dragging a man behind it on the ground, with a rope which was attached to his wrist. The rope belonged to the horse’s neck strap. He saw the horse kick the man and run down the hill. Several men tried to stop the horse but without success. Witness left his forge and caught the animal at the bottom of the hill. The horse was crazy and kicked at him, but he managed to hold him. Another man came up and tried to take the rope of the deceased’s wrist, but could not do so, and witness told him to cut it. He then looked at Gunner Sawyer. He was on his stomach, and witness turned him on his back. He breathed a little, but was obviously dying, and then he was taken charge of by the doctors.
Major John McCrae, medical officer attached to the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery, said he went to see Gunner Sawyer in the lines on Wednesday morning. He found he was dead. He examined the body, and the injuries with the kicks from a horse mentioned by the last witness. Part of the scalp was completely removed from the skull, there were contusions and abrasions of the face and chest, and the left wrist had marks made by strands of a rope, some of the skin being torn out. Death was due to fracture of the base of the skull and hemorrhage of the brain.
The Coroner said it was very sad that a Canadian who had come over to this country should lose his life in this way, without having the opportunity he desired of fighting for his country. He added that he felt sure the jury would appreciate what Shoeing-Smith Buck had done. It was a rather plucky thing. Others who had tried to stop the horse could not do so, but Buck succeeded.
A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned, and the foreman said the jury quite agreed with the Coroner’s remarks respecting Buck’s plucky action.