Corporal Luther Algeo, murdered


Service No:21335
Date of Death:21/12/1916
Regiment/Service:Canadian Infantry 11th Bn.
Grave Reference L. D. P23.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 30 December 1916




The Borough Coroner (Mr. J. Glenister) held an inquest at the East Sussex Hospital on Saturday evening on the body of the Canadian soldier who met with such a tragic death at St. Leonards on Thursday evening, as reported in our last issue. Among those present were several officers of the Canadian contingent, and Mr. F. James (Chief Constable). After the first witness had given his evidence, the Coroner explained to the Jury, who had appointed Mr. Wm. Dufton their foreman, that the course he proposed to take was, in view of the very serious character of the enquiry, to confine them that evening to just formal evidence, and then adjourn the inquest. Consequently they would not at this stage of the proceedings go into all the details of the case, which, happily, was a very unusual one, but simply take evidence of identification, the admission of deceased to the Hospital, and medical evidence as to cause of death. He was sure their sympathies were with the officers and men in this tragic affair, which had cast a gloom over all those connected with the Contingent. At a later date the witnesses would be recalled, and the whole matter thoroughly enquired into, and the adjournment would allow the Chief Constable an opportunity of putting before them considerably fuller evidence. He suggested that the enquiry should, after production of formal evidence, stand adjourned until Saturday, 6th January, at 2.30 in the afternoon, at the Town Hall.

Ernest Albert Caswell Marraton said was Company Sergeant-Major attached to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre at St. Leonards. He knew deceased as Luther Algeo, Acting-Corporal in the same Division. According to his attestation papers he was a native of Donegal, Ireland, and attested at Valcartier, Quebec, Canada, on September 23rd, 1914. He was 26 years of age, and had not been wounded, but had seen service abroad. His character was good. His home was at Sydney-avenue, Kildarnon, Winnipeg, Ontario. When he enlisted witness knew he was single. Witness last saw deceased alive between five and seven p.m. on Thursday night, when he was in the Company Orderly Room, 23, Warrior-gardens. and then he was in his usual state of health, which, as far as witness knew, was good. Between 6.45 and eight o'clock on Thursday evening witness heard deceased had been wounded, and later that he was dead, and had been taken to the Hospital, but not which Hospital. Witness did not see him then, but had identified his dead body.

Miss M. S. Allen, House Surgeon at the Hospital, said she saw deceased about two minutes after he was brought in by some soldiers on Thursday evening, about 7.55. Witness examined him, and found he was dead. Rigor mortis had not set in, and she concluded he had only been dead a short time.

Theodore Adolphus Field, Police Surgeon for the borough, said he examined the body of deceased at the Mortuary in company with the military doctor. A very deep wonnd was found in the throat extending from two and half inches below the right angle of the mouth to one inch behind and one and a half inches below the lobule of the left ear. The wound was seven inches long, and parallel with the lower jaw, and gaped an inch and a half. Another wound in the neck was more superficial, and extended from a point a little to the left of the middle line of the lower jaw above to the centre of the neck over the left sterno mastoed muscle, and a slight bruise over the left eyebrow, probably caused by a blow from a fist. There was an abrasion of the skin on the left side of the knee, which might have been caused by a fall. The first-mentioned wound severed the left side of the the external jugular vein, the sterno mastoed muscle. the internal jugular vein, and several other muscles. The edge of the neck wounds were jagged, and the depth of the neck wound was 1¾ inches. The direction of the first wound was upwards and backwards, extending to the backbone. There was also a wound on the right arm 4½ inches long, gaping an inch, and extended into the biceps muscle. It extended from an inch above the anterior fold of the armpit, downwards and inwards. The main blood vessels were not injured. Deceased was about six feet in height, the body being well developed and well nourished. That day, with Dr. Huckle and a military doctor, witness had made a post-mortem examination, and found that all the organs were normal. There was partly digested food in the stomach, and witness did not notice any smell of alcohol. Death was caused by hemorrhage from the wounds in the neck.

Thirteen witnesses and the Jury were then bound over, and the Coroner advised the latter to keep their minds open, no matter what they might hear. Questions would no doubt present themselves, but they would do well not to form any opinion until they reassembled on 6th January and investigated the matter thoroughly. The Court then adjourned.


The remains of Corporal Algeo were interred at the Hastings Borough Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack. A firing party delivered a volley at the graveside, and the "Last Post" was sounded by buglers. A large number of soldiers followed to the Cemetery.


In connection with the death of Algeo a further chapter in the story was opened at the Hastings Police Court on Wednesday morning, when Private Edward Ripley, Canadian Contingent, was charged with murder. The Magistrates were Alderman Stanley T. Weston (who was in the chair), Alderman A. W. Chesterfield, and Councillor W. C. T. Beasley.

The accused man stepped alertly into the dock. Of a somewhat sallow appearance, he is is tall and fair. His height is given at 5ft. 11in., his age as 31. Clean shaven and well built, his eyes are hazel colour. The police description circulated throughout the country prior to the man's arrest gave further details concerning some teeth of the upper jaw stated to be filled with gold, and that there were tattoo marks on the left forearm in blue and red ink, believed, woman's head. The Borough Police, with commendable enterprise and energy, obtained a portrait (this appeared last Thursday's "Pictorial Advertiser"), and, together with full details of the man wanted, this was circulated  throughout the length and breadth of the country without a moment's lose of time.

The Chief Constable, after reading the charge of murdering Corporal Luther Algeo, addressed the Magistrates, and said that prisoner was only detained the previous morning, and he had not, therefore, had opportunity of communicating with the Public Prosecutor, who had to be consulted in such cases. He would not make any statement, but simply put in evidence of arrest, and ask for a remand for a week to enable him to communicate with the Director of Public Prosecutions. The prisoner came into the town on December 19th, on discharge from hospital, and the charge concerned December 21st, and the incident happened near Warrior Square Station. The deceased man had been in the town since the Canadians first came here.

Detective-Sergeant Milton, the first witness, said that at eight o'clock the previous morning he saw prisoner detained at St. Leonards Police Station. Witness said, "I'm a detective-sergeant," and, pointing to Detective-Sergeant Dibley, said, "That is another detective-sergeant. You are Private Ripley. What is your number?" He said, 158,680." Witness said, "I shall charge you with the wilful murder of Corporal Luther Algeo on the night of the 21st inst., in this borough, by stabbing him with a razor." Witness cautioned prisoner, but he made no reply. Shortly after prisoner said, "My Jesus." On the way to the Central Police Station prisoner said. "Can I call a witness?" Witness replied, "Yes, you can call who you like if you let me have the names." He said, "The blood on my tunic is off a man that I helped who fell through a window. This is not my cap; I lost mine. I had this one given to me by another man."

At the Central Station, when the charge was entered against him, prisoner did not make any reply. Witness noticed that the top of prisoner's left first finger was cut. In the cells he said, "It's 13, Tower-road, where that witness is I want to call that met with an accident and I done him up." Witness took possession of all prisoner's clothing and marked it with a cross in black ink in the prisoner's presence. He examined the clothes and found what appeared to be bloodstains on the tunic, the wristband of the left shirt sleeve, knee of the left leg of the pants, and the trousers legs.

In reply to the Magistrates' Clerk as to Whether he wanted to ask any questions, prisoner said. "No, sir." Prisoner asked that Private Hubert and Private Mitchell, of the Canadian Contingent, might be stopped, as he wanted them to give evidence for him, otherwise they might be going back to the Front any day. The Bench ordered that prisoner should be remanded until that day week.

Sussex Express - Friday 09 March 1917


Arising out the death of Corporal Luther Algeo, a Canadian soldier, at Hastings, on December 21st, Private Edward Ripley, aged 40, of the same contingent, was tried for murder at Lewes Assizes on Monday. Deceased's throat was cut by a razor after the parties had been drinking at an hotel. The charge was reduced to one of manslaughter, and prisoner was sentenced to five years' penal servitude.

Attestation papers..

I wonder what the original diagnosis was?


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