Beverley, Albert

Beverley, Albert                 1915 November 5th                 Bemerton

Found on the Railway at Bemerton

A sad story of the tragic end of a soldier named Beverley, whose mutilated body was found on the railway line near Skew Bridge on Sunday morning, was told to the South Wilts Coroner (Mr F H Trethowan) on Tuesday. The inquest was held at the Railway Farm, Bemerton, Mr T Ford, being chosen foreman of the jury.

Mrs Rose Beverley, the widow, of 90, Lower Oxford Street, Castleford, Yorks, stated that her husband was 42 years of age, and was a private in the 348th Company, Mechanical Transport, ASC, stationed at Wilton. He had been in the army about twelve weeks, and she last saw him a week on Sunday when he was home on leave. He then seemed cheerful, and went to see his friends and mates at the pit. He enjoyed good health, and had never been to a doctor, and she had no reason for thinking there was anything wrong with his mind. He had been driving cars in Leeds for fourteen years.

The Coroner : There was nothing to trouble him, was there?

Mrs Beverley : No, there was no one happier than he and I and the children.

You know of no trouble he had here? No, he told me he was happy here, and that if I could only see Mrs Musselwhite I should understand how happy he was, as she was so like myself.

Private Norman Buckley, of the 348th Company, Mechanical Transport, said he saw Beverley at 8.30 on Saturday evening near the Town Hall at Wilton, and he said he had been to the coffee tavern writing letters. He was a quiet man, but he seemed quieter than usual. He was a very sober man, and would not have more than one glass of beer in a day. He did not know that he had any real trouble except that it was rather a trouble to him that he was not allowed to drive one of the transports, and Beverley had told that he did not think he had been treated altogether rightly.

You have never seen anything that would show that he was not treated properly? He has been spoken to sharply occasionally.

But there was no actual harsh treatment? No, but he had remarked to me that it was enough to drive a fellow to anything.

But you never saw anything in his treatment, or even in remarks he made himself, which led you to suppose that he was likely to take his life? No.

Replying to a juror, the witness said it was about a week before when Beverley made the remark that “It was enough to drive a fellow to anything.” Beverley had made the remark to a good many of his fellows.

William Vincent, platelayer, of the L and SWR, stated that he found the body at 7.15 on Sunday morning, about a quarter-of-a-mile on the Wilton side of Skew Bridge, and about 16 yards on the Salisbury side of the level crossing which led up to Railway Farm. He described the injuries. He thought Beverley must have been lying across the line when the train came along because the head, although severed, was just near the body on the other side of the line. There was nothing to suggest that Beverley was knocked down and dragged along.

Mrs Bessie Musselwhite, of 13, St John’s Square, Wilton, stated that Beverley had been billeted at her house for some weeks. She last saw him on Saturday at about 6.30, and he then seemed very troubled. He had a cold, and he sat down holding his head, and said it seemed as thick as two. He said that Mr Parnell, one of the warrant officers, seemed to properly have his knife into him. He was crying, and she advised him to take no notice, remarking that warrant officers would not be allowed to talk to men in peacetime as they talked now. Beverley was a very emotional man, and said he could not help taking notice of what was said to him. He often cried at the way he was spoken to at the camp.

You did not think he was in such a state that he would take his life? Oh! no ; he was quite bright when he went away. He said he would go to the barber’s and get a shave, and then it would be time for roll call.

Replying to the Foreman, Mrs Musselwhite said Beverley had told her that he had been told at the camp “never to let them see his face again.” And he asked her what she thought of a man being told that when he was doing his best.

Dr Kempe stated that on Sunday morning he saw the body after it had been removed to the farm. He described the injuries and said death was due to them.

PC Titt produced two pieces of paper he found upon the soldier, giving his Wilton and Yorkshire addresses, and a cutting from a Yorkshire paper giving his name in the roll of honour. The Constable added that he had heard of nothing to show when Beverley got on the line.

Mr A Meardon, who represented the L & SWR Co., replying to the Coroner, said that all the engines had been examined that passed along the line, but there was nothing on either of them to show which engine ran over the soldier.

Lieut Jack said there had been some petty friction among the men and a non-commissioned officer, but a non-commissioned officer was obliged to speak sharply sometimes.

Warrant Officer Parnell said that as his name had been mentioned he would like to say that he only had Private Beverley under his charge for about half an hour while putting him through a test. He failed, and then passed out of witness’s jurisdiction altogether. He denied that he had treated him harshly.

The Coroner, advising the jury, said that Beverley seemed to have been a very emotional man. It was a most extraordinary thing that a man should come home and weep at what had taken place at the camp. What had been said about his treatment at the camp was not a matter for the jury to enquire into ; if it had been inconscionably harsh they would have heard something more about it, but very often warrant officers did not realise that to a man who joined the army at 42, harsh words did not come very kindly, and when gentlemen of the jury were in the Army they would find that having been their own masters, harsh words would not come kindly to them.

The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity.”

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