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vico

Strange, bizzarre and unlucky deaths

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vico

hi

i was wondering if anyone has any tales of strange or unusal deaths during the war.

When you see names on memorials its easy to imagine that they all died doing heroic deeds for king and country, but

during my research i`ve found that not always to be the case.

i remember reading somewhere lately about an aussie soldier who while on a break from the front line got drunk with one of his pals

and ended up sleeping in a ditch next to the road. unfortunately he left his head sticking out onto the road slightly and was

subsequently run over by a passing lorry. Also read about a fellow that while on leave was cycling down a hill and hit a tree killing him instantly.

i,m sure i`ve heard about someone being struck by lightning too.

has anyone come across any others?

vic

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Chris_Baker

A soldier (a battalion cook) who accidentally burned himself and two others to death, when discarding a light from his pipe in an area where shells had been dumped (and chemicals of some kind were present). He had been warned of the danger, but still did it. The light ignited a flash of flame. All documented in his service record.

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dycer

From a Pioneer Battalion War Diary.

"13th January 1916-While at work at Archoeuves an unfortunate accident befell "D" Company.On the 13th,a fall occurred in the quarry which resulted in the death of one man and injuries to three others."

George

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corisande

Strangest one I came across in compiling deaths of British soldiers in Ireland is this

cause-death.jpg

Basically he died of overeating...oh, and it was Christmas Day

"No blame attributable to anyone"

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centurion

Fascines for use as trench fillers for tanks were made by compressing bundles of sticks by means of wire ropes wrapped round them and tightened by a pair of tanks pulling in opposite directions. In the hurried efforts to make enough before 1st Cambrai a number of men from the Tank Corps and the Chinese Labour Corps were killed by the ropes snapping under the strain and acting as huge whips as the energy was released. Men were literally cut in half.

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Dawley Jockey

On my local memorial is a RFC air mechanic who was home on leave in March 1916 when he was killed after being struck by a local brewerys delivery lorry.

It happened about 100 yards from his home address and apparently one of the first people to arrive at the scene of the accident was his father, How he felt could only be imagined.

Dave

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stevem49

6157 Pte W Bunting, 9th Bn Sherwood Foresters, attached 13th Bn RIR buried Ration Farm Annexe. :poppy:

Walter had survived Gallipoli and when the Battalion moved to france , he wa sloaned out to the 13th (unlucky for some) RIR.

On 20/8/1916 a man was cleaning the Lewis Gun next to him. After cleaning the man put the gun on top of the sandbags, the bags slipped and the man shot Walter, killing him.

A court decide that it was an accident.

I visited his grave last week and the details of his death are in the book (unless someone has pinched it)

SM

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vico

British cavalry officer Major Summerford was fighting in the fields of Flanders in the last year of WW1, a flash of lightning knocked him off his horse and paralysed him from his waist down.

He moved to Vancouver, Canada, six years later, whilst out fishing, Major Summerfield was struck by lightning again and the right side of his body became paralysed.

After two years of recovery, it was a summers day and he was out in a local park, a summer storm blew up and Major Summerfield was struck by lightning again - permanently paralysing him.

He died two years after this incident.

However, four years after his death, his stone tomb was destroyed - it was struck by lightning!

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corisande

Major Summerfield, is in all probability an unsubstantiated urban myth. It has had a little speculation here before

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28821

Most of the entries in Google are straight cut and past jobs of exactly the same wording :( as the post above. Just because it appears n times does not mean it is true

Out of curiosity I Googled the exact phrase

"British cavalry officer Major Summerford was fighting in the fields of Flanders in the last year of WW1"

And there are 6120 entries with that exact wording

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Will O'Brien

There's a Royal Engineer buried in Fenny Stratford cemetery who was staioned at the nearby Staplehall Depot. He died after falling off a park bench whilst under the influence. He was found in the morning frozen.

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Mark Hone

Two of our Bury Grammar School old boys, brothers Arthur and John Houghton, served together as medical orderlies in 149 (RN) Field Ambulance Royal Marines Medical Unit, part of 63rd Royal Naval Division. Having survived Third Ypres and Cambrai the brothers were in the Nelson battalion Aid Post at 7-45 am on 18th December 1917 when the cook, Private W. Holden, lit a brazier and put on a tin of what he supposed to be water to boil. Unfortunately this turned out to be petrol or a mixture of petrol and water and after a few minutes flared up, engulfing the Aid Post in flames. Holden and the two Houghton brothers all suffered severe burns, Arthur Houghton later succumbing to his injuries. He is buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Cemetery. Before the war Arthur was heavily involved with the St. John's Ambulance and on our 2002 school tour one of my then pupils, Richard Chernick, a senior St. John's cadet, laid a special wreath on his grave.

The first Bury Grammar School boy to die on active service in the First World War, Lieutenant Douglas Wardleworth of the RAMC, was stationed at a base hospital at Le Havre and drowned while taking his regular constitutional swim in the sea on 24th October 1914. Family legend apparently has it that his son Edmund was born on the same day and that his ghost visited his wife to say goodbye to her and the child so that she already knew he was dead when the official notification came.

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IRC Kevin

A couple from the 1st/4th KORL.

Pte Cornelius Cafferty M.M.(for Givenchy) was being treated at Nell Lane Military Hospital, Manchester for ICT of the arm. On 15th January 1919 he, Sgt Major W. T. Davidson of the Gordons and two other patients, went for a walk to the aerodrome at Alexandra Park (15th {Manchester} Acceptance Park). A Captain C.A.Brown was readying a Bristol Fighter for an air test and Cafferty and Davidson persuaded him to take one of them up for a flight. Cafferty and Davidson tossed a coin to see who would have the flight and Cafferty won. Sadly, the plane spun in on the turn downwind, at what witnessing pilots described as low speed and height and both men were killed, the aicraft immediately bursting into flames on impact. Cornlius Cafferty's MM was presented to his 5 year old son, Leo, at a parade some time afterwards.

Pte John Crellin managed to shoot the middle finger of his left hand off whilst cleaning his rifle in billets just prior to going up to the trenches on the 19th July 1917. The army took a dim view of this and prepared a court martial for Pte Crellin, who was sent to the 61st Casualty Clearing Station to have his finger and lacerated palm treated. He was killed when a German aircraft dropped a bomb on the hospital on 21st August.

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geraint

A local ASC man drove his lorry into Dover harbour and drowned.

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centurion

There are a number of accounts of men using pressure stoves in dug outs and succumbing to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. These also sometimes exploded causing fatalities.

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centurion

Major Summerfield, is in all probability an unsubstantiated urban myth. It has had a little speculation here before

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28821

Most of the entries in Google are straight cut and past jobs of exactly the same wording :( as the post above. Just because it appears n times does not mean it is true

Out of curiosity I Googled the exact phrase

"British cavalry officer Major Summerford was fighting in the fields of Flanders in the last year of WW1"

And there are 6120 entries with that exact wording

However this thread http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=99265&view=findpost&p=931010 does contain a number of accounts of other soldiers struck by lightening

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Spud Trevor

A couple of unusual ones,

Royden Graham - Drowned whilst on a bathing parade near Wimereux.

Ronald Anderson - Knocked down by an ambulance whilst helping another man.

Spud

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Sidearm

Men attending courses at the Tank Corps Gunnery School at Merlimont Plage were warned of the dangers of bathing in the sea. I gather there were a number of drownings there.

Gwyn

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izzy

E.M Cohan died on 05/08/1914 when he was thrown from his Horse when it was startled by a steam traction engine.The Horse bolted and caught its hoof in a Rabbit hole throwing its rider he cracked his skull and died from his injuries.

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jon_armstrong

Captain Tufnell, a professional soldier, survived Gallipoli and the Western Front and ended up a Brigadier General. When peace came he accepted a position in the Indian Army. Travelling by train through India to start his new role, he was attacked on a platform and severely beaten. He was found unconscious with his watch stolen, and died in hospital next day. Not strictly in the war, but he was still in service and is recognised by CWGC.

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Tom W.

I remember reading about a British bombing instructor demonstrating to his students the dangers of a German percussion grenade. He said, "Don't ever do this," pulled the pin, and struck the grenade on a table, whereupon it exploded and killed him. I suppose he thought the grenade had been deactivated.

There's also a story of a French observation aircraft that accidentally landed behind German lines. The Germans took the observer prisoner and ordered the pilot to fly to a nearby German air base. A German infantry officer sat in the observer's seat with a pistol on the pilot. When the plane arrived at altitude, the pilot realized that the German officer had not fastened his seat belt, so he turned the plane over. The German officer fell out, and the French pilot flew back to his base.

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ss002d6252

I know of a soldier who was killed by a runaway tram which jumped its brakes and ran back down a hill.It toppled on the man and a family walking past killing all of them.

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Blackblue

I have researched four brothers of the AIF.

PTE Thomas Zeller missing later presumed KIA at Ypres Oct 1917 with the 26th Bn.

CPL George Zeller DoW after being hit by a gas shell when asleep in a dugout on the Somme April 1918 when serving with the 25th Bn.

PTE Richard Zeller badly gassed with the 42nd Bn at Villers Brettoneux in May 1918.

SPR Alfred Zeller served with the 8 Field Coy Engineers and came through unscathed.

Richard made it home, but when driving down a road near his property a branch fell through the roof of his car killing him instantly.

:poppy:

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Kate Wills

Here's a similar thread The Unluckiest Soldier of WW1

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T8HANTS

The last recorded death in the IOW Rifles,8th Hants War Diary was of Pte Arthur Doel, who drowned in the Nile at Wadi Halfa whilst on detachment November 1919.

One of my previous neighbours father was killed on Nov 12th 1918, when he fell over a dud shell that went off when he landed on it. Thirty years on I can't remember his name.

G

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moggs

In the early hours of the 31st May 1918 members of A company 14th Battalion AIF were sleeping in a barn at Allonville, which was more than ten miles away from the front at the time. A long range shell landed on and destroyed the main roof beam releasing the slate which sliced through bodies below. 13 men were killed outright and a further 12 died that day. A total of 56 casualties has been called the most expensive of the war for the one shell.

Jonathan

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