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Private Willie Williams, Royal Army Medical Corps - died on 20.10.1910 1 month 1 week ago #75727

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....A distressing story of how a soldier placed in a detention cell became suddenly frenzied, overpowered his guard, and beat a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps to death, was told at Tidworth Garrison on Saturday, when an inquest on the body of William Williams, the victim of the assailant's violence, was conducted by Mr. Spencer Clarke, coroner for the district, and a verdict of "Wilful murder" was returned against Michael Noonan, a private in the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. It appeared that Noonan, who is a powerfully-built man, was in the detention cell of the guard-room at Tidworth on Wednesday evening.
....There were three privates in the cell with him, they forming the guard. Suddenly Noonan jumped up from his bed and attacked the men, knocking them down. Hearing cries from the cell, one of the men in the guard-room hurried to the cell, but he was attacked by Noonan. He managed to get back to the guard-room and informed Private Williams, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was in charge. Williams at once made his way to the cell, but received a violent blow between the eyes which caused him to stagger, and another blow from the frenzied man incapacitated him. Noonan then dashed into the guard-room and seizing a poker struck about him.
....All the men managed to get clear, but Noonan went to Williams, who lay unconscious, and began beating him about the head with the poker. To add to the terror of the situation the lamp got smashed, and, the affray taking place in a narrow passage, the members of the guard could do nothing to check the assault. Noonan continued striking about with the poker, and forced the guard to retreat into the guard-room, where they slammed the door. Assistance was sent for and quickly arrived. Noonan was at that time still dashing heavy blows on Williams, as could be plainly heard.
....The door was opened and the men rushed in. After a terrible struggle, in which one private's hat was split with the poker and another man was seized by the throat, Noonan was felled by a blow from a chair, and six or seven men managed to secure him. He was placed in a straight jacket, which he broke. Another was brought, and the man was also handcuffed and tied down to the bed. Williams was conveyed in a terrible condition to the Military Hospital and died at eleven o'clock the following night without regaining consciousness.
....In returning their verdict the jury expressed their opinion that the guard were too young and inexperienced, and recommended that in such cases in future men of more mature age, experience, and stamina should be mounted.
....The prisoner was brought before a magistrate at Andover Police-court on Saturday, and was charged with wilful murder. He was remanded until to-day (Friday).
The Western Gazette, Friday 28th October 1910

The Late Private Williams.
....Private William Williams, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who is alleged to have been beaten to death at Tidworth Garrison, Salisbury Plain, by an invalid soldier in a sudden frenzy, was a native of Taibach, Port Talbot, where his widowed mother now resides in Alma-street. He has also three brothers living there, one of whom, Mr Samuel Williams, is caretaker of St. Theodore's Church, Port Talbot. ....Deceased commenced his career as a cold-roll boy in Messrs D. R. Daniel's tin works, Taibach. He subsequently went to Bridgend Asylum as a warder, establishing a good reputation as a capable officer. He joined the Army about ten years ago, and served with distinction in the South African war, securing three medals.
....At the inquest on Saturday a verdict of wilful murder was returned against Private Noonan, of the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers.
....Deceased's brother travelled to Salisbury Plain in order to attend Private Williams's burial. Deceased's widowed mother is over 80 years of age and was unable to attend the funeral.
The Cardiff Times, Saturday 29th October 1910



....At Andover County Police-court on Friday Michael Noonan of the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, was brought up on remand charged with the wilful murder of William Williams.
....Noonan appeared in Court attended by two warders, and he still had his head bandaged as the result of wounds received when he was knocked down by the chair in the detention-room. He remained seated throughout the hearing.
....The magistrate on the Bench was Mr. F. C. Ellen.
....Mr. Pearce, the Treasury solicitor, took up the case on behalf of the prosecution, but the accused was undefended.
....Mr. Pearce said the facts were quite simple, and he did not think the Bench would have much difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the case was one in which the prisoner shold be committed for trial at the Assizes. The question must arise as to the state of the prisoner's mind at the time of committing the offence; or whether his mind was so affected as to be able to appreciate right from wrong, or the nature of the crime he was committing. That was a matter with which that Court was not concerned; it must be decided by a jury.
....William Edmund Lowe, sergeant-major in the R.A.M.C., stationed at Tidworth, said he knew the deceased, and saw his dead body in the mortuary at Tidworth on October 22nd. Deceased was 34 years of age, and a private in the R.A.M.C.; witness was a mental attendant, and on October 19th prisoner was under his charge in a cell in the observation ward of the Military Hospital. There were four cells opening on to the passage of the ward, in one of which the prisoner was. The passage was about 3ft. 6in. to 4ft. wide, and the length 18ft. to 20ft. There was another passage, a little wider, running at right angles, on the opposite side of which a door leads to the guard-room. Prisoner was the only patient in that ward.
....Bert Ambrose Leach, a private in the Royal Munster Fusiliers, said on Oct. 19th he was one of the guard told off to look after the prisoner. He had been on the same duty there seven days before. On the 19th he went on duty at eight o'clock in the evening. Private Flack and Private Foley were in there with him, and they were under the orders of Lance-Corporal Brodrick, who was in the guard-room. Prisoner was in bed in night clothes, and the three privates were standing up in the cell. They carried no arms at all, not even side arms. About 9.30 Private Noonan slipped out of bed and struck Private Foley and Private Flack in the stomach with his fists. When he struck them they fell down on the floor of the cell winded. Witness sprang at prisoner, threw him on the bed and got him in it, and as he was tucking him in prisoner kicked him in the stomach and knocked him through the doorway, winded. He fell down on the floor of the passage. Witness next saw Private Rudge coming by him, and he went into the cell to Noonan, who was out of bed again. Prisoner rushed at Rudge with his two fists and struck him in the stomach. He was so much hurt that they had to carry him out of it, after being laid on the floor. Witness, Flack, and Foley carried him out into the guard-room, where they saw Private Williams leave the guard-room and go to the cell. Witness saw prisoner strike Williams with his fist between the eyes and then he fell on his knees in the doorway. Witness saw the blood on the front of Williams' face. As he and the other three sentries turned to go to the cell Noonan rushed out at them and swung his arms at two of them on each side of him and hit all four of them. He forced them back into the guard-room and they thought prisoner was going to escape by the main door, so Lance-Corpl. Brodrick ran to shut the door and stood against it. Witness, Flack and Foley were in the passage when they saw Noonan coming from the guard-room with the poker in his hand and swinging it about. They could not tackle him, and he ran on through them and struck Private Williams, who was lying down on his face, on the back of the head. Witness only saw prisoner strike one blow. As soon as he made this blow witness sprang at prisoner and wrestled with him for several minutes. Witness called for help, but no one came to his assistance. Noonan still had the poker in his hand, and as witness found he could not tackle him he went away. As he was going Noonan struck at him with the poker, but missing him the poker hit the wall of the passage and broke in two. Witness recognised the poker produced as the one which was broken. Witness and the others went to the guard-room, but Noonan had the handle half of the poker still in his hand. As Noonan went up to go in the guard-room they slammed the door in his face. Lance-Corporal Brodrick and Private Rudge went out of the main door for assistance, and came back with someone. While these two were absent Noonan made another rush at them. In the passage they could hear some one being hit several times. There were no other persons in the passage besides prisoner and Private Williams. When assistance came Lance-Corporal Brodrick got a chair, the door was opened, Noonan made a rush, and Brodrick knocked him down with a chair. He was then handcuffed and carried into the cell and put to bed. Witness saw Williams being taken away on an ambulance by two men from the R.A.M.C.
....Lawrence George Flack (19), a private in the Royal MUnster Fusiliers, gave corroborative evidence. Witness saw prisoner with a poker in his hand and saw him strike Williams a hard blow on his head while he was standing up leaning against the wall. He then fell down, and witness saw blood on the front of his face. Witness, Leach, Foley, and Brodrick then rushed at prisoner, but as he was too powerful they had to let him go although he still had the poker in his hand. They went to the guard-room and closed the door. They heard prisoner in the passage making a noise as if with the poker, a low noise as if prisoner were hitting something not as hard as the wall. Witness saw prisoner get the poker from the coal-box in the guard-room.
....Corroborative evidence was also given by John Foley, a private in the same regiment, Matthew Joseph Brodrick, a lance-corporal in the Royal Munster Fusiliers at Tidworth, Samuel Rudge, a private of the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed at Tidworth, and Henry Hubbard, a corporal in the R.A.M.C. at Tidworth.
....Arthur Edward Jones, of the R.A.M.C., said Williams was taken to the hospital about 10 o'clock on the evening of the 19th. He was unconscious; he never recovered consciousness, and died at 11.35 p.m. on the following night.
....Alfred Gwillym Jones, a lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. at Tidworth, said on October 19th, about 9.45 p.m., he saw the deceased in the hospital there. He was unconscious, and suffering severely from wounds on the head and face. On October 22nd witness made a post-mortem examination and found the skull was practically shattered on the front part of the left side, and there was a fracture on the base of the skull. It extended right across in three places. The lower jaw was broken, and there was a large wound on the left cheek and top of the head. Both extended to the bone. The brain had been injured by the fractured bones of the skull. There were weals three or four inches long on each shoulder, approximately five. Those injuries were capable of having been caused by a poker. He should think at least a dozen blows had been given, and in his opinion death was due to compound fracture of the skull and shock.
....P.S. Cox, stationed at South Tidworth, said he saw prisoner at Netley Hospital. He cautioned him and read the warrant to him charging him with the murder of William Williams. He made no reply to the charges. Superintendent Bowles said to the prisoner "Do you know what has been read to you?" Prisoner replied "I do." On October 22nd he was present at the inquest on Private Williams, at which the prisoner was present. The Coroner asked him if he wished to question William Edmund Lowe, and prisoner said "No, I am guilty." He took the poker from Sergent-Major Lowe on the 20th. This ended the case for the prosecution.
....Prisoner said he could not call any witnesses as no one was interested in him.
....Noonan was committed for trial at the Assizes at Winchester on November 9th.
The Western Gazette, Friday 4th November 1910

Cheltenham Chronicle, Saturday 19th November 1910

His gravestone at Tidworth Military Cemetery, Wiltshire.



The two photos above are by 'soilsister' (on Find A Grave) and reproduced here with her permission.

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