Miles, Frederick

Miles, Frederick       1916 October 27th

Soldier’s Fatal Impulse

The circumstances surrounding the death in Salisbury of a private in the Devon Regiment were enquired into by the City Coroner (Mr S Buchanan Smith) and a jury at the Council Chamber on Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs Minnie Miles, of Upper Hartwell, Aylesbury, Bucks, deposed that Frederick Miles was her husband, and was 39 years of age. He left home on October 7th, and went to Plymouth and joined the 13th Battalion of the Devon Regiment. On the 17th he was shifted to Salisbury and attached to the Labour Battalion, F Company. They had seven children. He was a very quiet and reserved man, and was worried at leaving to leave her, and also about his drills, but he had no financial worries whatever.

Dr Fison deposed to being called to the lavatory at the Queen’s Arms, Ivy Street, at 8.55 on Monday morning, and there found the body of Miles with a severe wound in the throat, everything being severed to the vertebral column. He must have died in a few seconds after the wound was inflicted.

Pte. Fred Grahame, of the same company, and friend of Miles since they had met in the Army, said they came to Salisbury together on the 17th and were billeted with two others at the Queen’s Arms, Ivy Street, and were quite contented and comfortable there. Miles had always unnecessarily worried himself about the drills, and seemed to think he would never get on or make a soldier. He had also been worried about a stomach trouble. On Monday morning when they got up at 7.20, he appeared to be in his usual health. He went to the lavatory, but as he did not appear at breakfast time they called him and he answered. They started to go to drill without him, but had not gone very far before he was called back and found Miles in the lavatory with his throat cut. Dr Fison, who was called, said he was dead.

Albert Mitchell, the landlord of the Queen’s Arms, said that on October 19th, Miles said he wanted to shave but had no razor, so witness lent him one, and he identified it as the one found near the body and now produced. He found him in the lavatory and sent for the doctor.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Riggall stated that Miles always performed his drills satisfactorily, and had never made any complaints or excuses. He described how he found and removed the body.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst temporarily insane.

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