This year there are 68 cases, and the Salisbury Times also carried articles again about the local Tribunals, cases in which those who considered they shouldn’t enter the Army made their appeal. The pressures exerted by the Great War are shown in the difference to the tribunals of a year before. Where, in 1916, cases were reported anonymously, so in 1917 the appellants are described more closely by trade and age, though not name. Clearly, it would be enough to identify the poor person to those who lived near, and undoubtedly there was bad feeling towards these people, whether justified or not.
Among news items my eye passed across during the year was an attack on a work-party of conscientious objectors at Brockenhurst, who were pelted with mud and thrown in the river. Any hint of not ‘doing the right thing’ found an angry response in the various levels of society.
As with the previous three years there are any number of soldiers having accidents or committing suicide, and a number of flying fatalities of a quite pathetic nature. The Aviation cases include the following: – Arthur Jackson, Harold Smith and Joseph Chetwood, Herbert Ezard, Arthur Pycroft and Emil Margetson, Stanley Nolan, Lindsay Morrison, Arthur Wall and John Clark, Arthur Smith, John O’Giollagain, Alexander Campbell, Edgar Latham, Henry Mahaffy, Harold Holdman, Edward Siddy, James Fennelly and Ronald Findlay, Harry Marshall and Alexander Deuchar (whose death was painfully witnessed by Mrs Blades).
I can easily imagine Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army dropping a live Mill’s Bomb into a box of bombs and then panicking, and I suppose the idea came from some possibly real event – the grim reality occurred in the Arthur Newcombe case. Hubert Morris died as the result of an overdose of laudanum, but I thought there was a grey area about intent.
When Mrs Eileen Long was killed in a motor collision, her husband, Lieutenant Long was critical of the car driver involved. When the case went to the magistrates trial the evidence of Long was cross-examined by the Defence Counsel, who made it known that Long was suffering from shell-shock and poor nerves as a result of his war wounds. This is an early negative use of shell shock to cast doubt on a witness’ testimony, as well as his veracity.
The Michael Thomas case gives us some idea of the choices available to the elderly poor, once the Old Age Pension was given up for a place in the Union Workhouse. The Coroner also makes some distinctions between sane and insane with regard to suicide cases. Mr Wilson also lets Dr Saunders know quite clearly, in the Alfred Sutton case, that it is the doctor’s duty in a case of sudden death to inform the Police or the Coroner.
William Andrews killed himself, and orphaned his son, when his wife ran off with the lodger, but a sign of the times is shown in the fact that the wife and lodger were then arrested for stealing trinkets of Andrews’ ‘property,’ and a crowd of people hung around the court to admonish them.
From June onwards, by Government order, the number of the jury was reduced to seven members. This year also marked the end of the career of Mr S Buchanan Smith, the City Coroner, replaced in that role by Mr A M Wilson.
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