This is the final year coming forward in time that I shall publish on the site for some considerable time, and although the case-load is only 29, there are some fascinating inquiries here.
Perhaps the most sensational event in the collection involved what ensued after the murder of Sidney Spicer, because the murderer was none other than Percy Toplis, known to us today as ‘The Monocled Mutineer.’ I include the inquest for Toplis’ death as well, and also a link to the Wikipedia page on him.
Civvie street was not kind to every returning soldier, as witness William Carpenter’s death in an industrial accident, a poor return for the 12 years service in India, a Mons’ Star and a DCM.
The death of Robert Smith through gas poisoning from a removed gas-tap seems full of contradictions, and I note that the witness Hayter is called ‘formerly billiard marker at the Chough.’ Is he a scapegoat, or was he at real fault, for Smith did not appear suicidal or unhappy? Reginald Tiltman was also killed by gas fumes in an enclosed space, not the first such case in an Army hut.
William Wiliams seems to have showed a panic-type reaction consistent with shell-shock when he ran out of the hut and away to his death. One assumes his former sufferings had not received any treatment. Officialdom’s neglect may also be seen in the death of Frederick Lawrance.
The death of Dorothy White opens the door on the dangers of the back-street abortion, and the Vera Drake-like character of the deceased’s sister-in-law. It is also a reflection on how fearful a process for some is childbirth.
Military incompetence (easy for me to say so in retrospect!) is seen again in the death of John Parsley, where one suspects wind-speed was not taken account of, and the crash of Michael Orde, a pupil-pilot whose grasp on the controls was too strong for his tutor – but then the aircraft controls were actually set up that way….
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