Friday, 20 February 2015

Arlesey Officer Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Arlesey Bury, 1931 
[from On The Button, used with permission]

Saturday 20th February 1915: An inquest was held yesterday afternoon into a fatal accident in which Second Lieutenant Joseph C. J. R. Waterton of the 5th Bedfordshire Regiment was killed. Twenty-three year old Lt Waterton was  the eldest of three Arlesey brothers, the sons of Mrs Waterton of The Bury, Arlesey, who joined the Forces at the beginning of the war and were all commissioned as Second Lieutenants.[1] The fatal accident took place on Thursday as when Lt Waterton’s motorcycle collided with a motor car as he was riding from Cambridge to Newmarket.

At the inquest yesterday afternoon the car driver, William Henry Miles, stated that he was driving from Luton to Newmarket with Mr Ernest Gibbs, who had a son in the Beds Territorials. They had tea at the White Hart Hotel in Newmarket then started their journey back to Luton. They saw something travelling fast towards them in the middle of the road. Mr Miles drew to the left and pressed the hooter, but the motor cyclist ignored the hooter and came right onto the wrong side of the road. Mr Miles pulled his car to the right to avoid a collision. He told the jury that he was driving at about 18 miles an hour and that Lt Waterton had plenty of room to avoid him. Mr Gibbs corroborated Mr Miles’ evidence and added that the cyclist only seemed to notice them as Mr Miles tried to get out of his way, whereupon he tried to return to the proper side of the road, coming right into the path of the car. The motorcycle crashed into the bonnet of the car and Mr Gibbs though the cyclist had gone underneath. The car spun round with the motorcycle still wedged into the bonnet. He found Lt Waterton lying on the opposite side of the road.

Miss Constance Queenie Golding said that she and her sister Miss Eileen Golding were walking on the Cambridge Road. A motor car overtook them at a moderate speed travelling on the correct side of the road. About 100 yards on it seemed to swerve suddenly. There was “an awful noise like breaking glass or a gun report” and sparks seemed to come from under the car. After the crash a gentleman (Mr Gibbs) stopped them and told them there had been a terrible accident. They found a man lying on his face and turned him over to see where the bleeding came from. She wiped his face with her handkerchief to see where the blood came from. At this point Lt Waterton was still alive. She undid his collar and belt and found he had a broken leg. She covered him with a rug to keep him as warm as possible but could do nothing else for him. Her sister went to the golf links for help. She explained that she had been trained in Red Cross work and nursing in Newmarket and was complimented by the Coroner on the able service she rendered and the good work done by the Red Cross Society.

Doctor Norman Gray of Newmarket was called to the scene of the accident where he found a man lying on his back on the grass practically dead. He had several fractures of the skull, a compound fracture of the left thigh and broken bones in the left leg. He stated that the fractured skull would cause almost immediate death. He also treated the driver of the car who was walking about in a dazed condition. The jury gave a verdict of accidental death, exonerating the car driver from all blame. As a mark of their appreciation of her conduct they decided to give their jury fees to the Red Cross Society. The witnesses asked to do the same.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 26th February 1915

[1] A fourth brother, Jack, was still at school 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hello I love this article and have been pointed towards this blog by a friend who has been the main driver of Arlesey Remembers You – a project to comemorate the fallen soldiers from the village. I'm not sure if the image came from the Bedfordshire Standard article but shows Arlesey House and not Arleseybury.

  3. Hello Steve. We have that picture listed as Arlesey Bury in our catalogue and not knowing any better I believed it! Now I have looked at photographs of Arlesey House I can see you are absolutely right. I have amended the catalogue entry and the caption. Unfortunately it looks as though we don't have any pictures of Arlesey Bury at all.