Whilst wandering around Chichester Cemetery last year, on a mission to photograph every military headstone I could find, I happened to notice two in the Roman Catholic section from the same Regiment with the same date of death. Thinking nothing more of it, I carried on - and later found another five in the Church of England section. Obviously there was a story behind this, but a basic internet search when I got home didn't reveal anything to shed light on what had happened to these men. Did they die in a raid by the Luftwaffe? Or perhaps a minefield explosion?
This year the British Newspaper Archive released scans of the Chichester Observer
, so I dived in and searched for their names, and when that didn't give me any results I tried searching for military inquests and funerals - again, no luck. I was sure that there must have been some reference and, knowing that the page scans were pretty poor quality and the OCR probably hadn't picked up the names, I resorted to plodding through each page of each issue. Bingo!
Chichester Observer - Saturday 28 December 1940TEN SOLDIERS KILLED. SERIOUS MISHAP TO BEACH PATROL.
Ten soldiers met their deaths as the result of a serious explosion when they were on coastal patrol duty on Saturday. (List of names, pretty much illegible).
An inquiry with respect to their deaths was opened at Chichester, on Monday afternoon, by the Deputy Coroner (Mr. F. B. Tompkins), who sat at the Hope Inn. After hearing evidence with regard to the occurrence, Mr. Tompkins adjourned the inquest till Monday, January 13th, in view of military investigations into the matter.
I haven't managed to find any further mention in the newspapers but, of course, there's a very good chance it's in there somewhere and I just haven't looked hard enough. The War Diary for their unit (14th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment) is held by the National Archives, but is not yet available for download, so that'll have to wait until I next find the time to pay a visit. The fact that the newspaper article refers to the men being killed by an explosion whilst "on a coastal patrol"
certainly seems to point to it being an incident in a minefield..
The full list of casualties from the incident, one of whom died on the following day, is in alphabetical order below, and I will link those in our forum area to individual topics over the next day or so. But in the meantime if anyone can locate further details of the incident itself, I'd be very grateful! Private Donald John Allabush Chichester CemeteryPrivate Cyril Arthur Brown Chichester CemeteryPrivate Samuel James Buddell Chichester CemeteryPrivate Arthur Joseph Cockerton Chichester CemeteryLance Corporal Frederick John Firth Chichester CemeteryPrivate Albert Richard Fry Chichester Cemetery
Private Edward George Game Barking (Rippleside) Cemetery
Private Emanuel Jack Glicksman Edmonton Federation Jewish CemeteryPrivate Joseph Peter Izzio Chichester Cemetery
Lance Corporal Ernest George Kelly Gerrards Cross (St. James) Churchyard