There are 63 cases during 1916, as the full scale and terror of the Great War – although its true depths remained somewhat veiled to the populace – were wreaking havoc, and, on a more local level, there were a series of tribunals held so that individuals could stake their claim not to be conscripted into the armed services. Firms and companies sought to defend their workers from conscription, and individuals (not named in the Salisbury Times) made their pleas, including one who claimed that he cared for his elderly parents who would have to enter the workhouse if he went to war. Tough times indeed.
In September the Salisbury Times reported on a ‘Recruiting Raid’ carried out in Salisbury over several days, military police and county police visiting theatres and market places to stop men and demand their exemption papers if they had them, and find those “eligible men who had not registered for service, or those who had registered but evaded their commitment.”
The pressure was thus being cranked up, and consequently we find a number of inquests for suicides of soldiers, including Herbert Taylor who had just tried to kill his girlfriend, and Arthur Norman and Richard Brooking, both of whom determinedly threw themselves in front of trains. The Camps most featured are Larkhill and Fovant (including that at Hurdcott House).
Larkhill had perhaps the largest range of camps, which were the focus of charitable efforts by various bodies, including the YMCA, who ran the “British Columbia Hut,” a social centre for primarily Canadians. However, it was made of matchboard and felt, and, once lit, went up like a bomb, killing William Sales and Eliza Lee, two of the helpers there, who – despite flames swirling at the door and windows – still attempted to dress like the good Edwardians they were.
Second-Lieutenant William Roads died through sheer stupidity, shooting at a rat, and then – holding the barrels – trying to hit the rodent with the butt, while Leonard Smith and his young mates shouldn’t have even had guns. Charles Sargentson sustained a bayonet wound in play, but that killing Thomas O’Connell seemed real enough.
The frailty of the Air-forces at our disposal were exposed in the deaths of Charles White, Ernest le Sauvage and John Woodland, Enos West and William Burlinson, Francis Lamb, Launcelot Prickett (whose aircraft exploded on the ground), and Lieutenant Chamberlin, whose wing fell off when he cornered tightly.
There are of course a number of the regular car and horse and cart accidents, drownings and burnings. Among the larger cases this year are two involving Assizes trials, that of John Mann (deceased) taking Edward Heather to court for manslaughter, and the Warminster Railway Crash that took Albert Hudson, resulting in a similar charge against Driver Stretch.
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