Brooking, Richard

Brooking, Richard         1916 September 22nd          Porton

Tragedy Near Porton – Army Reservist’s Suicide

A remarkable tragedy which occurred on the London and South Western Railway near Porton station on Wednesday, was enquired into at the New Inn, Winterbourne Dauntsey, on Friday evening by the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan). Mr H M Manger was elected foreman of the jury. Inspector Swain, of Basingstoke, represented the London and South Western Railway Company.

Sergeant Thomas Watkins, 9th Devon Regiment, stationed at Exeter, said that on September 13th an Army reservist named Brooking left the depot at Exeter for Hertford to report at the headquarters there. He came from came from Deptford, South Brent, Devon, and was about 27 years of age.

Sidney George Coulson, of Ilfracombe, guard of the 11.55am relief train from Exeter to Waterloo, said they were approaching Porton when he was told a man had jumped from the train. He stopped the train and reported the matter to the stationmaster at Porton.

Harry Hopkins, of 55, Goldsworth Road, Woking, L & SWR Inspector, said that on Wednesday he was travelling on the 11.20am train from Waterloo to Salisbury. He was informed at Porton station that a man had jumped from a train. He got on to the engine to keep a look out, as it was his duty to see into anything unusual that occurred. They had got about a mile from Porton station, when they saw something crouched up on the side of the line. On closer inspection it proved to be the body of a man. They were going very slowly, intending to stop and pick him up, thinking that he might be injured through jumping from the other train. They had not quite stopped when the man jumped up and dived between the leading bogey wheels of the engine, and one of them pinned him to the ground. He could not have flung himself between the wheels if the train had been going at any pace. It looked like a deliberate attempt to take his life.

Charles G-aney, of South Lambeth, the driver of this train, corroborated.

Dr J O March, of Amesbury, said that he saw the body in a railway hut. He noticed particularly that it did not smell of drink. Death was caused by crushed spine and other injuries.

Inspector Hopkins, re-called, said the man had his eye on him for a long while. As soon as he turned round with the intention of getting off the engine and going up to him he jumped up immediately and before witness could stop him, was on the ground and part of his body was under the engine. It did not take him a couple of seconds to go across the line. His whole aim seemed to be to get under the train.

Sergeant Watkins, in answer to the foreman, said that no one was deputed to accompany the man to Hertford. He was alright when he left Exeter, although he did not seem to like the idea “of soldiering.”

The jury returned a verdict of suicide during temporary insanity.

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