Gilbert, William

Gilbert, William        1916 December 29th         Fovant

Soldier Fatally Injured

The Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) held an inquest at Fovant Military Hospital, on Tuesday, concerning the death of Private William Gilbert, stationed at Hurdcott, whose home was in South Australia.

Private Joseph Mayfield said that on the night of Saturday, December 23rd, he was walking with Gilbert from Barford to Hurdcott Camp at about 10 o’clock. He heard a car coming behind them and caught hold of Gilbert’s arm to pull him nearer to the side of the road. Gilbert seemed to slip and pull away, and he thought that that slip was the cause of the accident. It was very dark and he could not see what happened, but he did not think the driver of the car was to blame. Gilbert seemed sober when he came out of the public house. The road was very narrow at the point.

Answering an officer connected with Gilbert’s regiment, witness estimated the speed of the car at from eight to nine miles an hour. It had lights and he heard the horn sound. Gilbert was about three feet from the near side of the road. The car stopped after the accident.

Sergeant Clyde Watson said he was in the car, a char-a-banc, and he was sitting just behind the driver. As the car approached the soldiers Gilbert was in the centre of the road. The other man tried to get him over to the side but he pulled away. From his actions, witness thought he was intoxicated, because he seemed to struggle. The car was then just on him and the mud-guard apparently threw him over, and the front wheel passed over him. The car was travelling at about seven or eight miles an hour, and was pulled up in its own length. Another car was stopped and took the man to hospital.

Replying to the Foreman, witness said he did not think Gilbert was trying to attract the driver’s attention, or to commit suicide.

Questioned by the officer, he said the man seemed to stagger from the near side to the centre of the road. The driver was not driving carelessly.

Signaller MacGill, another passenger in the char-a-banc, corroborated.

Tom Whatley, of Shaftesbury, the driver, said the man lurched across the road and he could not avoid hitting him.

Captain Huntley, RAMC, stationed at Fovant Military Hospital, said that Gilbert was in a state of collapse when admitted and died next morning. Something had passed over his body, and death was due to internal injury and shock.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

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