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Remembered Today:

Accidental shooting


Gary W
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Researching the accidental death of William Washbrook as outlined below, but have come to a dead end to find out about any court martial hearing or even if there would have been one. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

Gary Washbrook

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The REMARKS note: "C[ourt[ of [E]nquiry into the death of this man on 5 May 1917 from a bullet accidentally fired by P[etty] O[fficer] C[lifford] H[enry] Matthews (212641) to whom certain blame is attributable."

The record of PO Matthews  -  https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7148250  Shows that he was deprived of a Good Conduct Badge (GCB) on 26 Jul 1917 and at the end of that year his Character assersssment was reduced from VG to VG*. This seems to show that his offence may have been dealt with summarily by his captain and he was not sent for trial by court martial. However, the long gap betweem the shooting and the punishment may indicate that considerable discussion took place about how this was best handled.

PO Matthews' deprived GCB was restored six months later on 26 Jan 1918. His long runs of VG Character, and Ability assessments of Superior and Exceptional doubtless swayed the decision about punishment. PO Matthews received his LS & GC Medal in 1919 and was advanced to CPO in July 1920, so the incident did no lasting damnage to his career. He went to Pension in 1925

Edited by horatio2
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Thanks for your swift response and explanation. I suppose it would be mere speculation as to how such an accident could occur. The 'bullet' suggests some kind of small arms. I suppose this could have been cleaning a weapon, training or target practice ? 

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We may never know the exact circumstances. The use of the words "certain blame" is interesting . A first glance this could be taken to mean 'defnite, full blame" but given the outcome of the investigation and punishment it may, perhaps, mean 'to a certain extent' and that there were mitigating circumstances. 

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2 hours ago, Gary W said:

Thanks for your swift response and explanation. I suppose it would be mere speculation as to how such an accident could occur. The 'bullet' suggests some kind of small arms. I suppose this could have been cleaning a weapon, training or target practice ? 

Thank you for posting this and H2 for his analysis. Your summation that a small arm was the culprit is confirmed by the "202 bullet" or possibly "rifle" written within brackets in the remarks column.

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3 minutes ago, Lawryleslie said:

"202 bullet" or possibly "rifle" written within brackets in the remarks column.

That is actually the Official Number of PO Matthews - 212641.

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55 minutes ago, horatio2 said:

That is actually the Official Number of PO Matthews - 212641.

Of course ….must try SpecSavers. 🤣🤣

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William Washbrook was on HMS Lightfoot, a Destroyer leader, at the time of the incident, I wonder if her Ship's log might reveal anything concerning the shooting?

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