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Killed by a pompom shell in Plymouth 1 week 2 days ago #84830

  • Neville_C
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On 6 December 1901 an apprentice was working on a pompom shell at the South-Western Brass Foundry, Russell Street, Plymouth, when the cartridge exploded, fatally wounding a colleague, Herbert Miller, standing four feet away.
Miller was taken to hospital, where the brass fragment was removed from his head, but he never regained consciousness and died five days later.
One report states that both men had previously been advised not to tamper with old shells. However, the Coroner's Inquest seems to contradict this.


Western Morning News, 7 December 1901

SHELL EXPLOSION AT PLYMOUTH.
TWO PERSONS INJURED.
An alarming explosion resulting in injury to two persons occurred yesterday at the South-Western Brass Foundry Company’s (late Woodcock and Co.’s) Works, Russell Street, Plymouth. Recently the firm received from Mr Edward Parkhouse a number of 1 lb pom-pom shells to be converted into fancy ornaments for a military officer. All the shells were believed to be empty, but it transpires that one at least was partly, if not fully, loaded. Shortly before one o’clock an apprentice named Hennings, living at 22, Pym Street, Morice Town, placed one of the shells in a vice and commenced striking it with a hammer to make a centre-punch mark. Suddenly, with one of the blows, the shell exploded, and fragments of the brass case flew in all directions. Hennings almost miraculously escaped with slight injury, but a workman named Herbert Miller, living at 2, Ross Street, Morice Town, who was working on the opposite side of the bench four feet away, was struck by a piece of the case, and rendered unconscious, with blood flowing profusely from a wound on the face. Dr Burke, who happened to be passing through Russell Street at the time, was called in, and rendered medical aid. Mr E.H. Micklewood, chairman of the company, and Mr Ballinger, managing director, were also on the scene, and by their directions Miller was removed on an ambulance to the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital. There his injuries were found to be serious, the brass segment having struck his forehead just over the left eye and inflicted an extensive wound. Last evening Miller was still unconscious. Hennings, who only sustained a laceration of his left hand, had his injuries dressed at the Homeopathic Hospital. From the fact that the shell itself is intact, and only the brass case at the bottom blown to pieces, it is believed that the shell was empty, but brass case containing the ordinary firing charge was loaded. It was rather a singular circumstance that only on Thursday Miller and Hennings brought a shell to Mr Micklewood and complained that they could not make any impression on it with the tools they were using. Mr Micklewood told them the shell was of chilled steel, and advised them to have nothing to do with it, as it was dangerous sometimes to handle old shells.


Western Morning News, 9 December 1901

THE SHELL EXPLOSION AT PLYMOUTH.
The young man, Herbert Miller, of Morice Town, who sustained such serious injuries in the head by the explosion of a spent shell at the South-Western Brass Foundry Company’s works at Plymouth on Friday, was placed under the Roentgen rays in the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital on Saturday, when it was ascertained that a portion of the brass cartridge was embedded in the brain, having entered just over the left eye. As the result of this examination, the operation of trephining [trepanning] was yesterday performed, and the piece of cartridge removed. Miller, who is 21 years of age, was still unconscious last night and in a very critical condition.


Western Evening Herald, 9 December 1901

THE PLYMOUTH SHELL ACCIDENT.
Herbert George Miller, who was so seriously injured by the explosion of a shell at the South-Western Brass Foundry on Friday last, still lies in a critical condition at the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital.
Yesterday he underwent an operation, by which the portion of the shell which penetrated his forehead was extracted. This, it proved, was a piece of the cartridge case. The unfortunate young fellow has been unconscious since Friday.


Portsmouth Evening News, 12 December 1901

FATAL SHELL EXPLOSION.
A man named Herbert Miller died at the Plymouth Hospital yesterday from injuries which he received last Friday. Miller was employed at a local brassworks, which had received a number of four-pound shells to mount as mementoes of the war. All the shells were supposed to be empty, but one, on being struck with a hammer, exploded. Apparently a portion of the firing charge had remained in it. A fragment of the shell struck Miller, who was working near at the time.


Bromyard News, 19 December 1901

A SHELL IN A BRASS FOUNDRY.
A WORKMAN KILLED.
An inquest was held at Plymouth on Henry Miller, brass finisher, killed by a shell explosion. A fellow-workman named Hennery, at the South-Western Brass Foundry, was converting some pom-pom shells, supposed to be uncharged, into fancy ornaments for a military officer, when, on striking one shell with a hammer, the shell exploded owing to cordite having been left in the cartridge. Hennery escaped with slight injury, but a shell fragment penetrated Miller’s brain. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and exonerated the directors and employers from blame.


Sussex Agricultural Express, 20 December 1901

An inquest was held at Plymouth on Friday on the body of Herbert George Miller, 21, brass finisher, who died from injuries received through the explosion in the workshop where he was employed of a pom-pom shell, which was being converted into an ornament as a memento of the war. The shell, with others, was received from Mr E. Parkhouse, a curio dealer, who obtained it from an officer. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and, while exonerating the owners of the brass foundry, cautioned Mr Parkhouse and his foreman to exercise more care.


Western Morning News, 22 April 1902

THE PLYMOUTH SHELL EXPLOSION.
At Stonehouse County Court yesterday, an application was made, under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, by Mr John Shelly on behalf of Thomas Miller, pensioner detective-sergeant of the Metropolitan Police, Morice Town, Devonport, father of the late Herbert George Miller, the young man who on December 6th [sic] died from injuries sustained by the explosion of a shell on the premises of the South-Western Brass Foundry (Limited), Plymouth, in whose employ he was at the time of the occurrence. His Honour Judge Lush-Wilson was asked to make the award on terms agreed upon by the parties (Mr J.W. Bickle for respondents), but which did not transpire. – The award was made accordingly.





Exploded pompom cartridge case from Paardeberg, brought home by Lieutenant Hugh Steuart Gladstone, 3rd Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers.



THE INQUEST

PLYMOUTH
The Fatal Shell Explosion At Plymouth.
The Inquest.
Mr R. B. Johns, Plymouth Borough coroner, held an Inquest at the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital last evening relative to the death of HERBERT GEORGE MILLER, aged 21, journeyman brass finisher, of 2 Ross Street, Morice Town, Devonport, who died in the Hospital on Wednesday from injuries caused by the explosion of a pom-pom shell on the previous Friday at the South Western Brass Foundry Company's Works, Russell Street.
Mr P. T. Pearce attended on behalf of the Foundry Company and Mr E. H. Micklewood, chairman of directors, was also present.
Rev. W. Mantle, vicar of St. Michael's, Stoke, was likewise present, deceased having been a member of his Church Guild.
Mr Thomas F. Ladd was Foreman of the Jury.
The Coroner explained that deceased was employed at the Foundry Company's works. Mr Edward Parkhouse, furniture and curio dealer, Old Town-street, sent through his foreman, William Thomas, three pom-pom shells to the works to be turned into table gongs, candlesticks and other articles; and it was alleged that when he brought the shells Thomas told the foreman, in reply to his inquiry, that they were all right. It appeared that whilst an apprentice named Henning was at work on the shells, he struck the percussion caps on two of them and these caps went off. He then commenced on the third shell, which it seemed was hard to work, and was put into a vice in consequence. When the cap of this shell was struck it ignited a charge of cordite which was inside, and the shell exploded, a piece of the brass of the cartridge striking deceased - who was at work a few yards off - in the head, and penetrating his brain. Dr Burke was sent for, and seeing that deceased was seriously injured he ordered him to be removed to the Hospital, where he died on Wednesday.
Mr Pearce stated that the company were desirous of furnishing every information in their power and they extremely regretted the accident.
John Chingon, foreman of brass finishers in the foundry works, living at 3 Carlton Terrace, Plymouth, stated that the pom-poms were brought to him by Mr Thomas on December 3rd, with instructions that they were to be made into candlesticks, ash trays and other articles. Thomas brought the shells in eight pieces and witness asked him if they were all right, to which he replied, "Yes, they have all been taken to pieces". The shells were loose, except one, which was a little stiff to get off, and witness, taking this up in Thomas's presence, asked him about it, and he said it was all right. Three or four days afterwards he gave out the shells to the apprentice, Henning, to work upon. On Friday, about quarter to one, he saw Henning in the jobbing shop. Deceased was working a very short distance from him, but not on this particular job. Witness was giving instructions about a pipe that was to be brassed and whilst his back was turned to Henning the explosion took place. Witness saw deceased lying on his back close to his bench and blood coming from a wound in his head. He lifted him up and found that he was alive. He sent for a doctor, and Dr Burke came, bandaged deceased's head and sent for an ambulance, in which deceased was taken to the Hospital.
By the Jury: He did not examine all the shells. He examined one, and took it for granted, after what Thomas had told him, that the others were all right. He had dealt with pom-pom shells previously and never had an accident before.
By Mr Pearce: He was in the shop only about three minutes before the accident happened. So far as he could observe, there was nothing wrong with the shell he looked at.
Mr John Shelton, engineer, one of the Jury, speaking from his former experience with pom-pom shells in South Africa, explained that they were partly filled with cordite contained in a small muslin bag. When taken out this cordite was quite harmless. He should say the shells were never examined.
William Thomas, of 65 Gibbon Street, Plymouth, foreman to Mr Parkhouse, said when he took the shells to the brass foundry he handed them to Mr Chingon, who asked him if they were all right. Witness replied in the affirmative. He had examined the shells on the same day by taking them to pieces. He did not know how he came to overlook the shell that exploded: he pulled out each shell from the cartridge, but found no muslin bag in either. He did not know where the shells came from, or that they were supposed to come from South Africa. The officer who brought the shells to Mr Parkhouse drove up to the shop in a trap and had the shells in his pocket. Mr Parkhouse understood from the officer that they were spent shells. It was an ordinary circumstance to have those sort of things brought there.
In reply to the Foreman, witness said he did not know the name of the officer who brought the shells.
The Foreman: Can we not ascertain whether they were got from a Government store?
The Coroner said they were not there to inquire into that, it was a matter for the Government. If the Jury thought the officer brought the shells to Mr Parkhouse knowing them to be filled and likely to cause an accident, they might adjourn and go into the matter. What they had to do was to ascertain how deceased came by his death.
Arthur Henning, apprentice in the brass finishing department of the foundry, living at 22 Pym Street, Morice Town, stated that before he touched the pom-pom shell which exploded he dealt with the other two, the three being in eight pieces. When he worked the first shell the percussion cap went off, causing a noise like that made by a small toy pistol. Witness thereupon said to deceased, "Did you hear that BERT?" and he replied, "Oh, that's nothing, that's only a little cap going off". Witness said, "All right", and then dealt with the second shell, the cap of which also went off in the same way. He did not think it necessary to mention this incident to Mr Chingon. He put the third shell in the vice and struck it with the centre punch on the cap very easily, so as to get the centre properly. The shell did not go off the first time, but on his hitting it harder the second time the explosion occurred and he fell back against Mr Chingon. One piece of the brass cartridge struck him on the hand and another piece went against his waistcoat.
Replying to deceased's father, witness said he found a little muslin bag in the exploded shell and threw it into the garden.
Deceased's father said this shewed that the shells were not thoroughly examined.
The Coroner observed that, whilst deceased's father might ask questions, and would receive help in any way he wanted it, he must not make remarks.
Frederick Charles Hitchens, House Surgeon at the Hospital, stated that when deceased was admitted he was unconscious and suffering from a wound on the left side of the forehead from which a portion of the brain was protruding. The next day the Roentgen Rays were applied to deceased's head and it was found that a small portion of metal was in the brain. Deceased was operated on the next day and the metal was removed. He did not regain consciousness and died on Wednesday afternoon. Undoubtedly death was due to the injuries received. Practically it was a hopeless case from the first.
The Coroner said he thought there was no reason for going into the question as to where the shell came from, unless the Jury considered the officer in question disposed of it with an improper motive. The foreman at the foundry took every precaution by asking if the shells were all right. It was, however, the fact that one of the shells was overlooked, with the unfortunate result that had followed. It was for the Jury to say whether any fault could be attached to Mr Chingon or to Mr Thomas, or whether it was a case of oversight and an accidental occurrence.
The Jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict that deceased came by his death Accidentally. They added as a rider that Mr Parkhouse should be cautioned by the Coroner as to taking in explosive matter in future, and that they exonerated the directors and employees of the brass foundry from any blame in the matter.
The Coroner expressed concurrence in the verdict, and addressing Mr Thomas, told him that he examined the shells very carelessly and that he ought to exercise more care in dealing with such things. He hoped that what had happened would be a lesson both to him and to his employer.
The Foreman added that the Jury also desired to express very deep sympathy with the deceased's father, and to the members of the bereaved family generally.
Mr Micklewood said, as one of the directors of the company, he also wished, on their behalf and his own, to say that they deeply sympathised with deceased's father in the terrible affliction that had fallen upon him. This was not a mere matter of business; the directors, he hoped, would do more than merely express sympathy with MR MILLER.
The Coroner and Jury expressed gratification at receiving this intimation from Mr Micklewood and deceased's father was overcome with emotion.
Mr Parkhouse did not arrive at the Hospital until the Inquest had terminated.



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Killed by a pompom shell in Plymouth 1 week 2 days ago #84832

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Another UK fatality, this time in Grimsby.
22664 Sapper Anthony STOVIN, 38th Field Company, R.E., was fatally injured while he was showing a live pompom round to his mother.

Stovin's service records show his service ending on 26 January 1901, while he was on furlough. This, I thought must be the date of his death. But I see the "Record of Deceased Soldiers' Effects" give 3 February, which fits better with the coroner's inquest.


Reading Mercury, 9 February 1901

FATAL EXPLOSIONS.
A sapper named Stovin, of the Royal Engineers, who was on furlough from South Africa, died in Grimsby Hospital on Monday as the result of the explosion of a “pom-pom” shell which he had brought home with him as a trophy, and the cap of which was struck as he was showing it to his mother. Stovin’s hand was blown off, and his mother was slightly injured.


Manchester Courier, 5 February 1901

A FATAL WAR RELIC.
At Grimsby Hospital last night Anthony Stovin, who had just returned from South Africa after active service at the front, died from wounds caused by an explosion of a pom pom shell which he had brought home.


Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 6 February 1901

THE POM-POM FATALITY AT GRIMSBY.
Mr T. Mountain held an inquest at Grimsby Hospital, yesterday, concerning the death of Anthony Stovin (36), who died from the effects of the explosion of a pom-pom shell, with which, it was said, he was playing.
The coroner said the circumstances of the case were altogether extraordinary. Stovin was a private in the 38th Regiment Royal Engineers, and had been serving in South Africa, under Lord Roberts. He returned to his father’s home, 105, Nelson Street, Grimsby, on January 23, without a scratch. He brought with him what he supposed to be an empty pom-pom shell. About midnight on Friday it occurred to him that he would show his friends the inside of the shell, so he got a hammer, and struck the shell, with the result that it exploded. Part of the shell carried away a portion of his left hand; another part was embedded in his groin, and a third part struck his mother on the side of the face, inflicting serious injury on her also. Stovin was at once removed to the hospital, and there it was found that an operation was necessary. With this view in end he was put under chloroform, from the effects of which he died before the operation had been performed. What the jury had to consider was (1) whether the operation was necessary; (2) was the chloroform administered in a proper way, and (3) was the man in a fit condition to receive the anaesthetic.
Dr Duncan M. Mackay, house surgeon at the hospital, described the injuries Stovin sustained, and said it was necessary that he should be put under chloroform. He was suffering slightly from shock, but he was not of hyper-nervous temperament. Gangrene set in in the wounds in the thigh, although every precaution had been taken. On Sunday, when the visiting surgeon (Dr Pratt) arrived, they found it necessary that incisions should be made in this wound, to let out the discharges accumulating. Chloroform had been administered previously, but beyond remarking that he thought once was plenty, Stovin made no objection to being put under its influence a second time. He was never absolutely unconscious, but irregularities began to appear, and ultimately the man died. The cause of death was heart failure, through the weakening effect of the beginning of gangrene, and the chloroform combined.
The Coroner: Supposing no operation had been performed, would that have caused death? – Witness (decidedly): Yes.
Supposing this man had been your own son, should you have adopted the same course? – Absolutely.
Witness, continuing, said first aid had been efficiently rendered by the police. There was a very slight percentage of deaths under chloroform – deaths for which there was no apparent reason so far as a surgeon could ascertain beforehand. The gangrene might have been caused by the entrance of a septic microbe when the shell exploded and struck the man in the thigh.
Four other medical gentlemen having given evidence, the jury found that death was due to misadventure. Great credit, they added, was due to the police for the efficient manner in which they had rendered “first aid”. They entirely absolved the surgeons from all blame whatever, and thought everything was done which ought to have been done.


,,

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Killed by a pompom shell in Plymouth 1 week 2 days ago #84833

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I could have sworn I'd posted about Stovin in the past, but I can't find it, so clearly I didn't.

THE POM POM FATALITY AT GRIMSBY.
....Mr. T. Mountain held an inquest at Grimsby Hospital, yesterday, concerning the death of Anthony Stovin (36), who died from the effects of the explosion of a pom-pom shell, with which, it was said, he was playing — The Coroner said the circumstances of the case were altogether extraordinary. Stovin was a private in the 38th Regiment Royal Engineers, and had been serving in South Africa, under Lord Roberts. He returned to his father's home, 105, Nelson Street, Grimsby, on January 23, without a scratch. He brought with him what he supposed to be an empty pom-pom shell. About midnight on Friday it occurred to him that he would show his friends the inside of this shell, so he got a hammer, and struck the shell, with the result that it exploded. Part of the shell carried away a portion of his left hand; another part was embedded in his groin, and a third part srruck his mother on the side of the face, inflicting serious injury on her also. Stovin was at once removed to the hospital, and there it was found that an operation was necessary. With this view in end he was put under chloroform, from the effects of which he died before the operation had been performed. What the jury had to consider was (1) whether the operation was necessary; was the chloroform administered in a proper way, and (3) was the man in a fit condition to receive the anaesthetic.—Dr. Duncan M. Mackay, house surgeon at the hospital, described the injuries Stovin sustained, and said it was necessary that he should be put under chloroform. He was suffering slightly from shock, but he was not of hyper-nervous temperament. Gangrene set in in the wounds in the thigh, although every precaution had been taken. On Sunday, when the visiting surgeon (Dr. Pratt) arrived, they found it necessary that incisions should be made in this wound, to let out the discharges accumulating. Chloroform had been administered previously, but beyond remarking that he thought once was plenty, Stovin made no objection to being put under its influence a second time. He was never absolutely unconscious, but irregularities began to appear, and ultimately the man died. The cause of death was heart failure, through the weakening effect of the beginning gangrene, and the chloroform combined.
....The Coroner: Supposing no operation had been performed, would that have caused death?—Witness (decidedly): Yes.
....Supposing this man had been your own son, should you have adopted the same course?—Absolutely.
....Witness, continuing, said first aid had been efficiently rendered by the police. There was a very slight percentage of deaths under chloroform—deaths for which there was no apparent reason so far as a surgeon could ascertain beforehand. The gangrene might have been caused by the entrance of a septic microbe when tbe shell exploded and struck the man in the thigh.
....Four other medical gentlemen having given evidence, the jury found that death was due to misadventure. Great credit, they added, was due to the police for the efficient manner in which they had rendered "first aid." They entirely absolved tbe surgeons from all blame whatever, and thought everything was done which ought to have been done.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 6th February 1901

P.S. Checked your inbox lately, Nev?
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Killed by a pompom shell in Plymouth 1 week 2 days ago #84834

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Seems I was transcribing/adding the Sheffield Daily Telegraph article at exactly the same time as you were posting the same ...!

Just checked my inbox. Sorry, I completely missed that one. I presume "Thursday" means yesterday?

Neville

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Killed by a pompom shell in Plymouth 1 week 2 days ago #84836

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Yes, but not to worry - I have a new addition for your tribute awards list.

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