Watt, Louis

Watt, Louis         1917 November 9th        Fovant

An Australian’s Death

On Friday the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) held at Fovant Military Hospital an inquest concerning the death of Private Louis Watt, an Australian soldier, stationed at Fovant, who was found lying in the road at East Tisbury suffering from injuries to the head, from which he died on Thursday. Watt was 47 years of age and came from Victoria, Australia.

Captain E Huntley, RAMC, surgical specialist, stationed at the Fovant Military Hospital, said that Watt was brought to the Hospital on October 21st, and on examining him witness saw it was obvious he was suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull. He was bleeding profusely from the left ear. He lived until 10.5am on Thursday. The injuries might have been caused by a fall. There was nothing to show that he had met with foul play or had been knocked down by a car.

Sergeant E Strike, AIF, West Farm Camp, Fovant, said he was in charge of a military picket about 9.30 on Sunday evening, October 21st, and whilst proceeding towards Fovant he found Watt lying across the road in Chicksgrove Lane, East Tisbury. He had a wound in his head, which was bleeding. Blood was also issuing from the left ear. There was nothing to show that there had been any fighting. No car passed or met witness as he was on his way to Fovant Camp, from Tisbury. He noticed the military police and removed the injured man to a cottage close by, where his wound was attended to.

Corporal T Quinney, Anzac Provost Corps, Tisbury, said he saw Watt with Privates Bridger and Jay go into the Cross Inn, High Street, Tisbury, about 6pm, on October 21st, and come out about 9 o’clock. In his opinion Watt was somewhat the worse for drink. He spoke to the men. Bridger and Jay went along High Street, towards the Post Office, and Watt went along to Cuff Lane with another man.

Private Jay, AIF, Fovant, said he met Watt about 6.50 on Sunday, October 21st. Shortly afterwards he went into the Bennett Arms, and then to the Cross Inn. Bridger was with them, and also a man named Private Campbell, who he now believed to have been absent without leave. They left the Cross Inn about 9 o’clock and were all somewhat under the influence of drink. Bridger and witness left Watt and went to get a taxi, but were not successful. They then went towards Fovant. When some way out he saw Watt on the road with a crowd round him.

Private W Bridger, AIF, Fovant, said he had known Watt for several years. He corroborated the evidence of the last witness, and added that Campbell was a friend of Watt’s and he believed he was in the same battalion.

The jury considered that Private Campbell should be called to give evidence, so the Coroner adjourned the inquest till November 14th.

1917 November 30th Adjourned Inquest

After several adjournments which were decided upon owing to the absence of a witness, the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) concluded on Wednesday the inquest on Pte Louis Watt, an Australian soldier, stationed at Fovant, who died on Thursday, November 1st, at Fovant Military Hospital.

On Wednesday it was stated that this witness was still absent, and the Coroner said he would leave it to the jury to close the inquest if they thought fit, or he could adjourn it to the Assizes.

The jury decided to close the inquest, and they returned a verdict to the effect that Watt’s death was due to a fracture of the base of the skull, but there was no evidence to show how he met with the injury.

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