Grace, Douglas

Grace, Douglas           1916 March 17th            Amesbury

Motor Cyclist Killed – Collision with a Motor Wagon in Amesbury

As the result of a collision on Saturday between a motor cycle and a military motor wagon at the cross roads, High Street, Amesbury, a clerk (Douglas Stanley Grace) who was riding on the carrier of the cycle was thrown off and instantly killed. The body was placed on a Red Cross ambulance and brought to Salisbury Infirmary.

The City Coroner (Mr S Buchanan Smith) held an inquest at the Infirmary on Monday morning, and Mr W Curtis was foreman of the jury.

William Henry Grace, solicitor’s managing clerk, of 92, Midhurst Road, West Ealing, London, W., gave evidence of identification. He said his son was 27 years of age, and he saw him alive last when he returned to his employment as a civil clerk in the office of the O.C., Army Service Corps, No 2A Camp, Larkhill, after Christmas leave.

Charles Reginald Thomas Smith, superintendent clerk at the supply depot at No 2A Camp, said he and Douglas Stanley Grace brought their motor cycles in to Messrs Nash’s Garage, Castle Street, Salisbury, on March 4th for repairs. On Friday night they both came in from Larkhill to fetch their machines, but found that only one machine was ready. They decided to stay in the town overnight as witness had some difficulty in starting his cycle, and intended to return to Larkhill the following day. About 8 o’clock on Saturday morning he fetched his bicycle and they started back to Camp, Grace riding on the carrier astraddle. Everything went well until they reached Amesbury, and were passing the police station, opposite which he slowed down to about five miles an hour. They were then within 20 yards of the crossing, and he sounded his horn, but hearing no reply he went on. At the corner he saw a lorry coming from the direction of Amesbury Station and only a few yards away. Seeing it was impossible to pull up he opened the throttle of his machine to get by, but the lorry struck the rear wheel.

The Coroner : Did that knock Grace off the carrier?

Witness : It was so sudden I could not see exactly what happened.

But he was knocked off? Yes.

Was he dragged at all? Yes, he must have been dragged four or five yards.

You were also knocked off? Yes.

Was the lorry going at any speed? At a moderate pace I should think, downhill.

In what state was the road? Very greasy.

Do you think the driver would have experienced any difficulty in pulling up on a road of that description? Yes, I think he would.

Did you notice the lorry skid at all? Yes, it skidded prior to approaching the corner for about sixteen yards.

Did you hear the driver give any warning of his approach? No.

In reply to further questions witness said the accident occurred probably about a quarter to nine on Saturday morning. Grace was taken out from beneath the lorry in what was apparently an unconscious condition. He was placed in a Red Cross motor which passed shortly afterwards and was brought to the Infirmary where he was found to be dead. Witness’ motor cycle was a 6hp twin cylinder machine, and he had been driving it for about a year. He had known Grace for the same time.

Patrick Haynes, a driver in the 348th Company, Army Service Corps, stationed at “C” Lines, Bulford Camp, said he was in charge of the colliding motor lorry which was proceeding on Saturday morning from Bulford to Salisbury. Near Amesbury station he picked up two bank employees and with them went on towards the town. Before he got to the crossroads he throttled down his engine and steadied the lorry with the foot brake, with the intention of dropping his two passengers at the other side of the crossing. When he arrived at the corner he saw a motor cycle coming across from School Lane by the side of the police station. The driver seemed first as if he was going to turn up the road which witness was coming down, but changed his mind and drove straight across. Witness applied both brakes, causing the lorry to skid. The motor cycle struck the lorry’s starting handle, and must have knocked it off, as it was found afterwards broken off short in front of the radiator. Witness could not see from his position if one man was thrown beneath the lorry, but saw the bicycle thrown one way and its driver the other. The road was very greasy.

Answering a juror, witness said he thought it possible that the motor cycle would have escaped had it not been for the starting handle.

Another juror : You were not having a conversation with the two gentlemen in your car?

Witness : No, we were not speaking.

Charles Gilbert Rothery, manager of the Amesbury branch of the London City and Midland Bank, said he was riding in the motor lorry on this occasion. As it approached the crossroads the lorry was slowing up to put him down. While crossing he saw a motor bicycle emerge without the slightest warning from School Lane and collide with the front wheel of the lorry. The passenger on the carrier was thrown into the road.

The Coroner : Did the lorry pull up immediately?

Witness : Yes, in fact as it was pulling up.

Can you tell at about what speed it was travelling at the time? At two to three miles an hour, and perhaps not that.

In your opinion was there any blame attached to the driver of the lorry? None whatever.

Did you hear any horn sounded before the cycle struck the lorry? No. I should like to say I consider there ought to be a man there on point duty. It’s a very dangerous place.

The Coroner : That is a matter for the County Police, or for the military.

A Juror : There is someone there very often, but not always?

Witness : No, not always.

William Frederick Corp, licensee of the New Inn, Amesbury, said he was standing at the crossroads, at the top of High Street, on Saturday morning, and saw the military lorry coming from the direction of Bulford. Looking round, he saw a roadman raise his hand twice to signal to an approaching motor cycle. The lorry passed him and the motor cycle shot out of School Lane straight in its path, apparently with the intention of crossing over to the road to Larkhill Camp. A collision occurred and the person sitting on the carrier of the cycle was thrown into the middle of the road in front of the lorry. The front wheel went over his body. The lorry, witness thought, was not travelling more than two miles an hour.

The Coroner : And slowing up? It was practically stopped. It stopped directly the wheel went over the body. I went back to try and get him from under the splash board, but the steering gear pinned him down.

What speed do you think the motor cycle was going at? About six miles an hour. If he had been going 20 miles an hour he would have got clear. I don’t think the motor cyclist knew what to do. If he had had the presence of mind to go to his left and down the street he would have got out of the way of the lorry.

John Weston, roadman in the employ of the Wilts County Council, living at Amesbury, said he was working at the cross roads on Saturday morning and held up his hand twice for the motor cyclist to stop. Whether the driver saw him or not he could not say, but no notice was taken and the next instant the collision occurred. The motor cycle was 20 yards away when he first raise his hand.

A Juror : Plenty of time for him to have pulled up?

Witness : Yes.

The Coroner : If he had seen you? Yes.

A Juror : Did you hear a hooter? I did not.

Dr A Carsar, assistant house surgeon at Salisbury Infirmary, said that Grace was admitted on Saturday morning, dead. Death was due to dislocation of the neck, and would have been instantaneous.

The Coroner : I suppose he was dead when he was picked up.

Witness : Oh, yes, sure to be.

The Coroner, addressing the jury, said he thought the affair was a pure accident, and that no blame attached to anyone. The corner was very dangerous there was no doubt, but there were many such corners. They wanted a man on point duty at nearly every corner in Salisbury.

The driver of the motor cycle, recalled, said he saw no one put up his hand before he got to the cross roads. Had he seen anyone he would have slowed up.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned, and the jury exonerated the driver of the lorry from all blame.


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