The Penryn Tragedy, 25th Rifle Brigade

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by Andy Pay, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    Thought that I would place this here. The 25th Batt., Rifle Brigade were a Territorial Battalion of the R.B.'s and based at Falmouth during the war. Most of the battalion were older soldiers that came from other regiments, Harwood and Barkers records survive and these newspaper articles come from Harwood's papers.This incident happened on the 26/9/16.

    Three Riflemen who walked over the Quay

    Roll Call Mystery

    Mr. E.L. Carylon held an inquest yesterday on the bodies of three soldiers of the Reserve Batt., Rifle Brigade (T.F.), found in the mud off Penryn Quay on Wednesday morning. The deceased were No. 2163 Rifleman George Harwood, aged 31, single, of Cury Rivel, near Taunton; No. 1268 Rifleman William Barker, aged 29, single, of London; and No. 1285 Rifleman W. Harrington, aged 19, single, of London. The Mayor (Mr. B. Annear) was present, and Captain Darling, R.B., represented the military authorities.
    The Coroner said the three men visited Penryn on Tuesday night, and probably were returning to camp, when it was supposed they walked over the quay. It was pretty clear they were seen going in the direction of the quay, and being strangers, instead of taking the turning to the right, as they should have done., they walked stright on - a very natural thing to do - and walked over the edge of the quay. Three soldiers were seen walking down the hill arm-in arm, and that might account for all of them falling over and getting drowned. There was the possibility that two might have fallen over and the other gone to their rescue. That was bare surmise, and the evidence would not throw a great deal of light on the matter.

    Recovery of the Bodies
    Jes. Collins deposed to seeing the bodies lying in the mud off the quay on Wednesday morning. If the men went over about ten o'clock the previous night it would have been about half tide then.
    P.C. Pellew said when he arrived at the quay the Mayor had organized a party and borrowed ladders and ropes, and a man in high boots went out and recovered the bodies. Two were on the eastern side of the quay and in a direct line with the road leading to the quay.
    The Coroner: If the men had walked straight down from the town to the quay, you would have expected to find the bodies where you did? That is so. It was a very dark night annd blowing hard. There is a lamp at the entrance to the quay. It was shaded, but a fair light, in a direct line with the road on the left hand side of the quay, and throwing light all around for a dozen yards.
    The entrance to and the sides of the quay are not protected? - They were not protected then, they were last night.
    The Coroner: Shutting the door after the horse had gone, eh? - Something of that principle. As a matter of fact this quay naver has been protected? - Not in my memory. Would it prevent the free use of the quay to put a fence round? - In the daytime it would when there is work to be done. Do vessels ever load or discharge at night? - Very rarely. At the entrance to the quay is there any gate or place to put a chain across? - There is nothing. The quay is all open? - Yes.
    A juror: There is nothing to prevent a chain being put across the entrance. There is a house one side and a wall the other. The Coroner: That is what is being done now? - Yes. The juror: Yes.The same night a gentleman told me he had met two soldiers making direct for the quay, and he told them to make a turn to the right. They thanked him and went on the right road.
    The foreman of the jury (Mr. Curgenven) said there were some stones deposited on the quay, and the deceased must have gone a little to the right to have avoided them. The lamp,, an all night one, was at the end of the road end of the quay, and not at the quay head, so it ought to have been helpful.
    Rifleman F. Hill indentified the body of Harwood and Rifleman John Wray those of Barker and Harrington. They last saw them alive at six o'clock on Tuesday evening.
    P.S Johns said he had elicited from inquiries that three soldiers were seen arm-in-arm both in Broad Street and at Quay Hill shortl after nine o'clock. - The Coroner: You get a great number of soldiers here? - Yes; this last week a great number have been here.
  2. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    Mystery of The Roll Call

    Capt. Darling, the officer commanding B Co., to which deceased were attached, said Harwood enlisted in September, 1914, and was transferred from the Somerset Light Infantry in August last, and came to Falmouth on the 8th of the present month. Barker enlisted in March last year and joined the Rifle Brigade on the 22nd of August, being transferred from the Royal Berks. Harrington enlisted last month and was sent to Falmouth on August 28th. As orderly officer on Tuesday he received the report at 10pm that all was complete except for the men on leave.
    The Coroner: If that was a true report these men ought to have been in camp at that time. Do they ever report members as present when they are actually absent in order to cover them up? -They should not, but a man very often gets another to answer his name. It is against rules and regulations. But, as a matter of fact, it is done sometimes? - Undoubtedly. What time ought they be back in camp? - Half past nine, and to answer their names. The absence of these men at 10 o'clock ought to have been discovered and reported? - If they answer their names at 9.30 and the orderly sergeant reports all correct they cannot hold him quite answeable. They might go to the latrines. It is possible their names were answered by friends? - Every man should stand to his cot, and the orderly corporal should see him there. By the foreman: They were not on leave, and had not passes.
    The Coroner: Was there any liklihood of the men being there at 9.30 answering their names and then coming up here? - I am afraid there was but I do not want to say anything to prejudice the case.
    Have you known it done? - Yes. How do they pass the guard? - We haven't guards all round the camp.
  3. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    Answering for Mates

    A Juror: No doubt many soldiers answer for mates. It is done over and over again.
    The Foreman: I don't think the deceased found their way back here after 9.30 on such a night. There must be some great attraction to get them here. Was Falmouth out of bounds then? - Captain Darling: Part of it is in bounds again. You can come here from the top of the camp in 23 minutes.
    Lance Corporal Thomas Stammers said he was present at the roll-call in the huts where deceased slept, and the result was "all present" - The Coroner: It is suggested that these poor fellows were in the river at that hour - Their names were answered when they were called. - Do you think they answered or that someone answered for them? - I could not say. I didn't know the men. We counted the men, and they were correct in each hut. Are you absolutely sure? - Yes.
    A Juror: Surely someone can say whether they were present or not when the roll was called? - The sergeant called the roll, and I went around and counted them.
    Rifleman Jas. Hatchett said when the roll-call took place in Harwood's hut every mans names was answered all the men were sitting on their beds, and the orderly corporal went round. Weere they all there that night? - Yes. When I came in I thought Harwood was on his bed. Somebody was sitting on his bed, and someone answered his name. You surely know whether Harwood was there or whether someone else impersonated him? - There were over 30 in the room and 30 answered the names. - You would not like to swear that Harwood was there? - I would not swear it was Harwood, but there was someone there was sitting on his bed. - Could a man come from another hut and impersonate him? - No - Is the roll called all over the camp at the same time? - Yes.
    Corporal Avery present when the roll was taken in Barker and Harrington's hut, said he was positive every name was answered and every bed occupied except those on leave and three on guard.
    A Juror: The question has not been answered to our satisfaction. Surely someone would definetely know if these men were in the hut. If I was in the bed adjoining that of one of the men, I should know whether he was there or not.
    Captain Darling said a number of men in these two huts were innoculated that day, and would be feeling ill, and it was possible there was little noise and the lights were down.
    A Juror: That explains the position somewhat
    Another Juror: Isn't it remarkable that 30 men should not know if neither one was absent?
    The Foreman: Couldn't witnesses have been called who slept in adjoining beds to deceased to say whether they were there or not?
    P.S. Johns: None of the witnesses have sworn positively they were in the huts, although the names were answered.
    The Coroner remarked that as roll call was taken at the same hour in every hut it would be difficult for other men to come in and impersonate the deceased.
    The Foreman: Some one near their beds would know.
  4. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    The Coroner: Supposing all were strangers? These men only came here recently.
    The Formen: They surely know thier next-door neighbour.
    Rifleman Hill, recalled, said he did not see Harwood at roll-call. - Rifleman Wray, also recalled, said, he returned to the hut at quarter-past nine and did not see Harwood between that time and "lights out." He noticed Harwood's bed was not made, and in the morning it was in the same state as overnight.
    A Juror: That is the evidence we want.
    Tne Coroner: He must have been overlooked. The poor chap was in the river then.


    The Foreman: We are not here to judge of military matters, but it looks as if this thing is done in a very slack way.
    The Coroner: I think we all agree the poor men were not in either of those huts at roll-call on Tuesday night. I don't think we can carry the matter any further. The only verdict you can bring in, I think, is that the poor men were found drowned. There is no evidence to show how they got into the water.
    The Foreman: I see no chance of any other verdict.
    The Coroner: It is unsatisfactory, but there it is.
    The Foreman: The evidence is unsatisfactory, but we are not here in judgement on the military.
    The Coroner: I think to-day's evidence has thrown a lot of light on the matter.

    The jury returned a verdict of "Found Drowned," and Mr. R.S. Hosken said he felt the deepest sympathy with the relatives of the men, who, no doubt, had left mothers, sisters and friends to mourn. He should like them to feel they had the symathy of all present. - The Foreman said all would agree to that. They all felt deeply sympathetic towards the relatives.
    Captain Darling added the aympathy of the Colonel and the officers and the brother soldiers of the deceased, and promised to convey the expressions of the Court to the relatives.
    Referring to a remark of a juror, the Coroner observed, "We have let down the Corporation very lightly; there is no slating of them."
  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    It sounds an awful thing to say ... but maybe they had a better death there - than if they had gone to France ! :(

    heres two of them ... I'm still looking for Harrington !

    In Memory of

    2163, 25th Bn., Rifle Brigade
    who died age 36
    on 26 September 1917
    Son of Frank and Elizabeth Harwood, of Curry Rivel, Taunton, Somerset.

    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of
    Rifleman W H BARKER

    2040, 25th Reserve Bn., Rifle Brigade
    who died
    on 27 September 1916

    Remembered with honour
  6. Andy Pay

    Andy Pay Member

    Try Herrington, Joseph, 2174, Rifleman. Born Islington, enlisted Wallington, died home 26/9/16 formerly 4771, 3/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment.

  7. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    OK ... no wonder !!

    ..... I thought you might like a modern picture of Penryn Quay in the rain ! ...... :)
  8. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In Memory of
    Rifleman J HERRINGTON

    2174, 25th Bn., Rifle Brigade
    who died
    on 26 September 1916

    Remembered with honour

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