Ward, John

Ward, John       1918 July 19th          Old Sarum

Fatal Accident near Old Castle

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) held an inquest at the Council Chamber on Wednesday afternoon in connection with the death of John Ward, aged 67, who was described as a shoemaker, but had apparently been travelling on the road from town to town with his wife.

The widow, who was greatly distressed, stated that she and her husband arrived at Old Sarum on Monday evening and spent the night in a shed. On Tuesday morning at about 8.30 they went down the road to a cottage at the foot of the hill leading from the Old Castle Inn. She went in to get some water to make tea and on coming out saw her husband lying on his face at the back of a military motor lorry. Some soldiers turned him over and put something under his head, and she tried to bring him round but could not do it.

Driver Henry Smith, ASC, who said he was rather deaf, stated that he was driving a lorry in about the middle of “a train.” He came down the hill with his breaks on and just as he got round the bend a man stepped right in front of the lorry. The left mudguard struck him on the head and knocked him over. He pulled up at once and found the man lying on his face. He did not speak or move. A medical officer of the United States Army, who was passing, said he was dead, and he was removed to the City Mortuary.

Answering questions, the driver said he blew his horn as he came down the hill. His speed would not be more than five miles an hour.

The Coroner : How long have you been driving? Two months.

This is the first time you have driven a heavy lorry? The first time I have driven on my own. He added that after the accident some one else drove the lorry to its destination.

Capt G T Millar, ASC, who was in charge of the convoy, said the accident occurred immediately after the lorry had got round a rather blind corner. Asked whether a man who was rather deaf should have been in charge of a lorry, he replied that Driver Smith had to pass a test before he was put on a lorry. The test course occupied about 30 days. On behalf of the military he expressed his deep regret at the accident.

Dr Armitage said he had examined the body and came to the conclusion that death was due to a fracture of the base of the skull.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, adding that they considered that no blame was attached to the driver.

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