As the Great War was bleeding towards its end, there were a now familiar amount of soldiers and pilots having accidents or killing themselves, or having horse/mule trouble, plus a sprinkling of the usual case-types, and one can suspect that the lower case-load of 50 is perhaps due to the severe losses inflicted in the bloodbath over the Channel.
Having reduced the required number of jurors in 1917 to just seven, this year sees the coroner given the option of doing completely without a jury if he deems it more prudent.
The tribunals are still ongoing, deciding if soldiers’ pleas to avoid Armed Service are justified, and the case of 48yr old Josiah Cooper showed a father who had been called up to the tribunal, whose son had also been called up to a tribunal, and whose other son died recently.
Aviation deaths this year include, Azariah Phillips (who took off but could not see a 48ft pole), Ashton Morgan and William Rowan, John Dorman, William Carradine, William Maker, Ben Walker, Harry Richardson, Joseph Hopkinson, Clarence Haggerty, Charles Anderson, and finally Claude Angeloff and Edmund Gill and William Cox, this latter being one of the worst cases, involving the death of the pilot and the explosion of a bomb among the crowd of rescuers.
There are also cases where aircraft movements killed innocent bystanders, including that of William Dewey at Boscombe Down (a roller-coaster ride), and that where William Henderson, John Perry and Albert Reynolds were killed by a pilot diving at them (though he had previously dived at two sergeants, so I have some little sympathy for him). Interestingly, in the latter part of the year the aviation cases deliberately omit the name of the aerodrome involved.
The military had, of course, taken over a large area of farmland, and, as William Hamilton found to his cost, not every thing was a shelter. Similarly, we know these days not to touch anything we see in the ground on the Plain – not so John Frater and James Stirling.
Among a welter of vehicular fatalities are Stanley Holding, an 18mth old child crushed by his fathers steam roller, and John Ward, an itinerant shoemaker, who was knocked down and killed by an Army truck driver who had never driven one before and was partly deaf.
Two 17 year olds – including Ernest Leatherdale – were apparently qualified to drive a huge lorry carrying 13 tons of cement, whilst Francis Blake was knocked down by a driver receiving driving tuition in backing up and turning at Alderbury.
Sidney Horton was knocked over by a reversing ‘bus in Salisbury Market Place on a busy Saturday, but what worried me was that the mother wasn’t allowed to see her son in the Infirmary for a full month, until she was told there was then no hope for him. Is it any wonder ordinary people didn’t trust the medical profession then?
The Dawkins case featured a car against a motorcycle/sidecar, but was the handcart being pushed along Devizes Rd by George entirely innocent? Pte Snell, the driver of the fatal motor-cycle/sidecar conveniently loses his memory – apart from one or two answers – and the Foreman congratulates him on his excellent recovery….
Armistice in November brought the start of the influenza epidemic that would wreak havoc through a weakened Europe, and the Coroner Mr Wilson is ill for a while, whilst there are no further inquests reported in the news for December due to the General Election and the local candidate Mr Brown, who promised an end to conscription.
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