The Central News Aldershot correspondent telegraphs that a terrible tragedy took place just before noon to-day at the Blenheim Barracks, North Camp, Aldershot, two Yeomen having been shot dead.
It has been ascertained that Trooper Cooper, of the 38th Company Imperial Yeomanry, was in the barrack-room playing with a rifle. A miss-fire ball cartridge, or one that had been used, but had not exploded, had previously been found outside the barrack-room and brought inside. This cartridge was thoughtlessly placed by Cooper, it is alleged, in the rifle. Cooper did not raise the rifle to his shoulder, or aim it in the direction of any comrade, of whom several were in the room, but he pulled the trigger and an explosion followed. Four men were engaged at a game of cards, and two of these, named Bullock and Hamblin, of the 38th Company Imperial Yeomanry, were hit. The bullet passed through Bullock's head and then entered Hamblin's chest, penetrating his lung.
Evening Express, Wednesday 26th February 1902
THE ALDERSHOT TRAGEDY.
Inquest on the Two Yeomen Killed.
The inquest on the two Yeomen who were accidentally shot by a private, named Cooper, at Aldershot yesterday, was opened to-day by the North Hants coroner. Cooper, who is about 34, and has seen twelve years' service with the Army in the Inniskilling Dragoons, looked ill, and appeared to be suffering from mental anguish. The two Imperial Yeomen who were shot were Private A. E. Bullock, native of Guernsey, a married man, with six children, and Private F. C. Hamblin, native of Bath, and son of the proprietor of the Commercial Hotel.
The evidence showed that a Private, named Young, found a miss-fire cartridge near the dust bin of Blenheim Barracks, and took it into the barracks room, where the deceased and Cooper were. Cooper was cleaning his rifle, and took up the cartridge, thinking it was a dummy. He placed the cartridge in the chamber and pulled the trigger. Both deceased men were playing cards close by, and the bullet, after passing through Bullock's head, struck Hamblin in the chest.
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."
My IY CD shows one "4126 Tpr. Authur Edward Bullock, IY"; the entry having an asterisk. Please note that no unit is shown. I am not sure what the asterisk means; have to do some digging.
Concerning the incident at Blemheim Barracks, Aldershot on 26/2/1902 - where the jury's verdict was "Accidental Death" - it should be pointed out that there was a superficial similarity between the "Cartridge S.A.Ball, 303" Cordite Mk.II" of the period and the official "Cartridge, S.A. Dummy Drill, Magazine Rifle Mk.1/2". To differentiate the two types, the "Dummy Drill" was "tinned" (imparting a matt grey finish all over) and the primer pocket was empty - while the Ball round had a brass case, a nickel coloured bullet and a copper primer. Over a lot of use and the passage of time, the tinning wore off the Dummy Drill and if basic Safety Precautions were not observed, there was an Accidental Discharge waiting to happen.
Clearly, there were several incidents of the type Berenice posted. In February 1905, it was officially ordered that a pair of lateral holes be bored through the case of the Dummy Drill rounds and that re-tinning would take place when the original tinning had worn off. These steps to differentiate the types as much as was possible. Later, Drill Rounds were made even more distinctive - however, that is beyond the scope of this reply.
If any member is interested, I can illustrate the .303" Mk.II ball and a representative Dummy Drill.
Regards to all