Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Linslade Soldier Killed in Diving Accident

St. Helen's Fort, Bembridge [Wikimedia]

Wednesday 26th April 1916: News has reached Linslade of the tragic death of Gunner William Charles Meager of 26, Waterloo Road. Gunner Meager had been serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery in the Isle of Wight, where he was acting as an officer’s servant at St. Helen’s Fort, Bembridge. After a busy morning on Easter Monday he went for a swim. A small diving pier had been built at the Fort, but due to the cold water it had hardly been used this year. Gunner Meager dived from the platform, which was then about eight feet above the water. A watching officer remarked on his splendid dive, but when the swimmer failed to surface he sent a comrade to the rescue. Gunner Meager was brought back to the Fort with a severe head injury. It was low tide and there was only about four feet of water under the diving platform. The soldier had struck his head on the rocky bottom, fracturing his skull and injuring his spine, causing paralysis to the lower half of his body. Gunner Meager was taken to Parkhurst Hospital at Newport and  was conscious until shortly before his death, which occurred between 9 and 10 p.m. that night. A native of Linslade, he had enlisted about three months ago; previously he was a steward on the P & O liner Salsette. Gunner Meager leaves a widow and four young children.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 2nd May 1916

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