Samuel Coleman killed

Today we look at a sad event back in 1918 in which Samuel Coleman, a bootmaker of Market Lavington, was killed. A descendant of the Coleman family gave us this extract but was not 100% certain about what paper he had taken it from.

Extract from The Wiltshire Gazette – July 1918.



Samuel Coleman, bootmaker, of Market Lavington, died in Devizes Cottage Hospital on Monday, from fracture of the skull, four hours after admission, and an inquest was held last evening by Mr. G. S. A. Waylen. About half past five on Monday a military hay-bailing train was turning into a bye-road at Conock off the Devizes road. There were the engine, bailer, trailer, and caravan, and all these could not turn off the road at one pull. The rearmost were still across the road, almost blocking it, when Coleman, riding a bicycle, approached from the Devizes side; at the same time there approached in the opposite direction, a motorcycle with sidecar, driven by Sergeant H. H. Elliott and carrying Flight-Sergt. C. Fletcher, both of the Royal Air Force at Upavon. The approaching parties could not see each other, and although nine men were with the hay-bailer none were on the watch, the reason given for this omission being that the obstruction was but temporary and could not fail to be seen. The motor-cycle and car, and the bicyclist went to pass the caravan, met practically between its tail and the bank, and in the smash Coleman sustained his fatal injuries. Mr. F. J. Maggs of Roundway, motoring home from Salisbury brought him in to Devizes.

The point to which chief attention was given at the inquest was, whether the driver of the motor-cycle acted rashly in trying to pass the obstruction. Witnesses were clear that Coleman was cycling slowly and could easily get by. Elliott admitted that he was going at Eight miles an hour, and said he considered there was just room for him to pass; but Mr. W. W. Hibberd, of Conock, who heard the crash and came to the scene immediately was emphatic that there was not room; he challenged Elliott to push the cycle and car through the opening but he did not try it. Neither did Mr. Maggs consider there was “reasonable room” to get by – certainly not at eight miles an hour.

Sergeant Elliott said he sounded his horn as he approached the bend in the road there, but three or four witnesses said they did not hear a horn.

The jury, which included several practical motorists and elected Mr H. J. Johnson as foreman, returned the following verdict, after a hearing that lasted between two and three hours:- “We find that the deceased was killed by being thrown from his bicycle, and that the primary cause was that the caravan was blocking the road, and we consider that a look-out should have been kept by some of the men attached to the tackle; we consider that the motor-cycle should not have attempted to pass in such a narrow space under the circumstances.”

Note: The funeral of Samuel took place at Market Lavington on 18 July, 1918.

Sad to say, death on the road is nothing new.

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One Response to “Samuel Coleman killed”

  1. Don Coleman Says:

    The family story is that Samuel had moved in with a Welsh girl called Maisie, with whom he had a child. On that fateful day, for some unknown reason he had decide to visit his wife for the first time in seven years. She inherited all his assets and Maisie returned to Wales with just her child.

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