Andrews, Allen

Andrews, Allen         1917 March 23rd          Whiteparish

Party of Australian Soldiers Thrown out on Whiteparish Hill

How a motor-car trip, planned by a party of four Australian soldiers, stationed at Hurdcott Camp, came to an unhappy end on Whiteparish Hill, was told at an inquest held at Salisbury Infirmary on Tuesday morning, one member of the party, Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Allen Malcolm Andrews, aged 21, having died as a result of his injuries. Mr S Buchanan Smith, City Coroner, presided, Mr F H Trethowan represented the driver and the owner of the car, and Mr W J Saunders was chosen foreman of the jury.

Sergt.-Major Allenshaw, AIF, gave evidence of identification, and said that Andrews was Australian born. He last saw him at 1.30 on Saturday, March 17h, when he handed him a pass to go to Southampton.

Sergt. William Lawrence Trompp stated that he and three friends hired a car to go to Southampton on Saturday afternoon. They left camp at about 2.30, passed through Salisbury, and everything went all right till they were about four miles away from the city. They were going down a rather long hill at a fairly good pace – though not a reckless pace – when he noticed a car coming towards them. Their driver steered into the near side of the road to make room for it to pass, and, so far as he could remember, their car got into a rut at the side of the road. When the driver turned it on to the road again it swerved to the opposite side, struck the bank and the front off wheel splintered. As it was being steered back to its proper side it turned over and they were all thrown into the road. All got up except Andrews, who was unconscious, and Smith, whose foot was under the back wheel. Another car which was following them, as well as the car which was coming towards them, assisted in bringing them into Salisbury Infirmary.

The Coroner : The driver had the car under control? I think so.

As far as you could see it was a pure accident? A pure accident.

Private George Francis Ball, another member of the party, corroborated his friend’s evidence. He said he thought the car got into a rut and a couple of pot holes. The accident was probably caused by the wheel splintering when it struck the bank. Had it remained intact the driver would probably have recovered control, or they would merely have gone into the ditch and stopped.

The Foreman : You are satisfied that it was the buckling of the wheel and not the pace you were going? We were going at a fair pace, but nothing very extraordinary. The driver did all he could to keep the car on the straight.

It did not appear to you to be a reckless pace? No.

And he would have righted the car if the wheel had not buckled? I think so.

Another Juryman : What is your idea of a fair pace? It depends on circumstances.

Mr Arthur Hugh Clough, of Burley, Ringwood, said he was in the motor-car following the one in which the soldiers were riding. He saw another car coming towards them when they were descending Whiteparish Hill, and noticed that the car containing the soldiers got into the side of the road to let the other one pass. Then it swerved right across the road, touched the other side, swerved back again and turned over. One reason of the accident, he thought, was that the car passed over a little gully by the side of the road which caused it to oscillate, and that might have jerked the steering wheel right out of the driver’s hands. He thought the car was going faster than was prudent.

Replying to Mr Trethowan, the witness said he thought that if there had not been the gully by the side of the road the accident would not have happened. He did not think he would have noticed the gully had he been driving the car. With regard to pace, he thought his car was going about 24 miles an hour, and the other about 27.

In answer to the Foreman, he said it was an open, straight road.

James Brown, 29 St John’s Terrace, West Street, Wilton, appeared with his head swathed in bandages and several fingers bandaged also. He was cautioned by the Coroner, but expressed his willingness to give evidence. He said he was employed by Mr H H Coombs and had been a licensed driver since November 1st, 1916. On Saturday he was ordered to pick up six soldiers at Hurdcott Camp and bring them into Salisbury. They wanted to go to Southampton, and as they could not go by train he was asked to drop two at Salisbury and take the others to Southampton. Andrews was sitting by his side and the others rode in the back of the car. When they were going down the Southampton side of Whiteparish Hill there was a car coming towards them and a car following them. He drew into the near side of the road to allow the approaching car to pass, when the near wheel struck a gutter which he had not seen. He pulled the car sharp round to the right to regain the road, and the car swerved across the road. Then it swayed to the left, then to the right, and turned over, throwing all of them into the road. He was bruised about the face and hands and was brought to the Infirmary with the others. The brakes were in very good order. He applied the foot-brake, but could not release his hands from the steering wheel. There was no speedometer on the car, but he thought they were going about 20 miles an hour, as it was down hill and they could see a long way ahead. He thought it was the swaying of the back of the car which prevented him having full control. As often as he put the front part right the weight at the back of the car pulled it round again. He did his very utmost to prevent an accident. No man in the world could have done more than he did to keep the car in the middle of the road.

The Foreman : Do you think you could have righted the car if you had not damaged the front wheel? I don’t know when the wheel was damaged, whether it was before the car had turned over or afterwards.

Miss Daphne Gertrude D’Abreu, one of the house surgeons at the Infirmary, said that Andrews was admitted at about 4pm on Saturday in an unconscious condition. He rapidly became worse, oxygen was administered and he died at 7.30 the same evening from a fracture of the base of the skull.

The Coroner stated that that was all the evidence, and, as far as he could see, the driver did all he could.

A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.

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