HC Deb 15 December 1926 vol 200 cc2937-8W
Colonel DAY

asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to the evidence given at the inquest at Doncaster, on the 29th November, relative to the death of Private Robert Arthur, King's Own Scottish Borderers, who was found dead on the railway; and will he state the reason why the military authorities, who were notified of the death on Wednesday, 24th November, made no attempt to deal with the preliminaries of burial, and were not represented at the inquest?


I have seen a report of the remarks made by the coroner; he seems to have been incompletely informed of the facts. As regards the funeral arrangements, the following are the facts: On receipt of the news of Private Arthur's death on 24th November, his unit, which was stationed at Aldershot, at once telegraphed to the railway authorities at York asking for full particulars of the case, and also telegraphed to Private Arthur's relatives. On 26th November, after hearing from the relatives that they desired the funeral to be at Stirling, the unit requested the railway authorities at York to arrange for the conveyance of the body to Stirling, a warrant for the purpose being forwarded. At the same time the military authorities at Stirling were asked to arrange for a military funeral, should it be desired. Full particulars from York did not reach the unit till 27th November, and since it was then clear that other local arrangements for a colfin were not being made, the unit telegraphed to the railway authorities to make arrangements, and to send the account to Aldershot. From these facts it will be seen that steps were taken at once by the unit, and that the time required to complete the funeral arrangements was due to the distance at which the various parties concerned were from each other. A military funeral took place on 1st December at Stirling, a wreath being placed upon the grave on behalf of all ranks of the company to which Private Arthur belonged.

As regards attendance at the inquest, there was a misunderstanding on the part of the unit. It was expected that a formal coroner's "summons" would have been sent had the coroner considered the Adjutant's attendance essential. But it is evident that the coroner was only giving the unit the "opportunity" to attend which is extended to relatives and others interested in a case, if they cannot give any direct evidence as regards the death. As it was not clear that the attendance of a representative from the unit, would serve any useful purpose, it was not considered necessary to send an officer the long journey involved.

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