A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- CWGC Headstones -
- Parkhurst Military Cemetery : G Smith -


In Parkhurst Military Cemetery, Forest Road, Parkhurst, Isle of Wight

Standard CWGC headstone. WW I pattern

Grave location : I B 88

Parkhurst Military Cemetery : G Smith


Further Information

CWGC record ...
Index Board entry 003 : 3374 Private G Smith : R War Regt : 2.1.1916


Friday, January 7, 1916 Page 3

Soldier's Tragic End at Newport

The tragic discovery of the body of a soldier, who was found drowned at the Newport Quay, on Sunday, has drawn attention to the dangers which threaten the unsuspecting stranger during these dark nights when the little, or in some cases, no light whatever is permitted. The circumstances were investigated by the Coroner at the Guild Hall, Newport, on Thursday afternoon. The Mayor and the Town Clerk were present. The victim of the tragedy was Private George A. Smith, belonging to a regiment stationed at Sandown. Identification was established by Company-Sergeant Davies, who said he last saw the deceased alive at the Fort at Sandown on Christmas Day, when he helped decorate the room for the soldiers' Christmas dinner. Deceased belonged to Brighton. He had been absent from the barracks since the 27th ult. He had been out at the Dardanelles. He was formerly a sergeant, but had been reduced before he went to the front. He had been previously stationed at Freshwater. Austen Herbert Dennett, of Castle-road, Newport, a carman, said he noticed the body lying in the river near the railway arch, on Sunday morning, face downwards. Except a cap, deceased had all his clothes on. John Victor Drake, a blacksmith, of Freshwater, said he knew the deceased when he was a transport sergeant at Freshwater, on Thursday last week, he told witness he was looking round the old place. Witness again saw him on Friday, and on Saturday last. On the last occasion, just before 8 in the morning, he came in without a cap, and asked witness to lend him one until he could get a regimental cap, stating that he had lost his own during the night. Witness lent him one that he used for dirty work. The Coroner: Did he look as if had been taking too much drink? - He looked as if he had had a rough time. He was quite able to take care of himself. - (To another query): Deceased did not ask him for money. Police Inspector Sibbick: We have reason to believe he walked to Newport.

Charles Alfred White, licensee of the Crown and Sceptre Inn, gave evidence which threw new light upon the case. In fact, he said he believed the man who called at the house on Saturday night was a shorter man than the deceased. The landlord of the Bugle Tap said the deceased visited his house on Saturday night last, first at 6.15, and afterwards at 8.30. He was wearing a brown cap with a large peak. Witness told him it was a peculiar thing to see a man in uniform wearing a cap. He was quite sober, but they "hooked" him out of the house because he was cadging. Inspector Sibbick stated that a man answering the description of the deceased, visited several public-houses that evening. Before nine he visited the Dolphin. Edward Phillips, an employé of the Corporation, said that on Saturday night he put up the chain as usual, and the bridge was closed. The lamp was put out just before 9, and the quay was then in absolute darkness. Mr. Chappell (the Wharfinger) said that has only been since the war.
The Foreman (Mr. Martin): It is a highly dangerous place. Anyone coming along there would walk straight into the river.
The Town Clerk: The lighting there is out of the Corporation's hands. We are acting in accordance with the instructions of the military authorities; the Corporation has no jurisdiction whatever. For years past the Corporation has had the place lighted in accordance with the representations of the Inspector of Factories. Before the war the lighting was passed as satisfactory by each inspector who came.
Dr. Underhill said the external appearances were consistent with drowning, and the Coroner said that all the circumstances pointed to an open verdict.
The jury returned a verdict of "Found drowned," and the Foreman added that it was the unanimous wish of the jury that the Coroner should approach the Corporation of Newport, requesting them to appeal to the military authorities to allow a better light on the Quay and other parts of the town.
The Coroner said he would forward it without comment.
The Mayor: other parts of the town are very vague.
The bottom of South-street and the bottom of Hunnyhill (the mill pond) were mentioned.
Inspector Sibbick said there was a light at the bottom of South-street up to ten o'clock.
The Coroner said he had his own views on the matter, which were pretty strong. However, he did not want to say anything.
The following rider, drafted by the Foreman, was then unanimously approved and the inquiry closed: - That the Mayor and Corporation of Newport be asked to approach the military authorities with a view to the better lighting of the Newport Quay, especially the slipway.

Acknowledgments :
Janet Griffin for newspaper research

Page status :
Page last updated : 27th August 2012


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