Thursday, 3 December 2015

Soldier Killed by Runaway Horses

Soldiers at Biscot Camp [Z1306/75/16/14]

Friday 3rd December 1915: The inquest has been held today at Luton Court House into the death of a soldier at Biscot Mill camp on Tuesday evening. Private William Griffith Williams of the 3/4th West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, a 23 year old soldier from Southport (Lancashire), was standing with a group of men who had just been dismissed from the stables on the right hand side of the road close to the stables. It was a few minutes after 5 o’clock and was growing dark. He was standing with Driver John Edward Williams and another young man name Welch lighting up cigarettes. Driver Williams looked up and saw a pair of horses attached to a van just twenty yards away and galloping towards them at full speed. He shouted and jumped to the right with Private Williams while Welch ran left. When he got across the road he turned and saw Private Williams underneath one of the horses. Another soldier, Driver James Donoghue of the 3/1st Welsh Royal Field Artillery was also knocked down and was taken to Bute Hospital suffering from shock and bruising. The unconscious Private Williams was taken into the huts and the doctor sent for. By the time the doctor arrived the young man had died.

The horses had been standing outside the bread stores attached to a van in the charge of Driver Richard Gooch, who was standing at the horses’ heads while the van was being unloaded. A motor van on military work with the Army Service Corps passed by, startling the horses and causing them to bolt. Driver Gooch lost his hold on the horses and was knocked over by the wagon. He ran after the horses, managed to get onto the back of the wagon and tried to get hold of the reins. When he found this was not possible he jumped off. Unfortunately it was too dark for the group of men standing in the road to see the horses until they were almost upon them. The driver of the motor van, Corporal William Herbert Crowley, said he was driving very slowly at the time. The jury agreed with the Coroner that it was a tragic accident for which nobody was to blame and returned a verdict of accidental death.

Sources: Bedfordshire Standard, 10th December 1915; Luton Times 10th December 1915

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