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George Harry PORTER

Private 8791 George Harry PORTER of 2nd Bn., Cheshire Regiment

Accidental Death Monday 23rd April 1917, Wigan Railway Station, Lancashire, age 27

Of:133 Kingston Brow, Hyde, Cheshire
Born:April 1889, Hyde, Cheshire
Parents:Alice Porter and George Porter
Marital status:Married to Elizabeth Porter (neé Mottershead) of 15 Mill Lane, Kingston Brow, Hyde, Cheshire
He enlisted in:Hyde, Cheshire
Remembered on:Hyde Borough Cemetery, Cheshire,   C.3. 3688
Link with Hyde:Born in Hyde


Wigan Mystery, Cheshire Soldier's Strange Death.

Mr H. Milligan (Borough Coroner) held an inquest at Borough Courts, Wigan, on Wednesday, touching the death of George Henry Porter (27), a Private of the 2nd Cheshire Regiment, whose dead body was found in an enclosure near the L & N. W. Railway Station on Monday night. The Coroner explained to the jury that the deceased was a married man, and his home was at 133 Kingston Brow, Hyde. He had been in the Army nine years and four months, and was stationed at Knowsley Park, Prescot.

It appears that on Sunday night, April 8th deceased was granted leave from Knowsley Park, and went to his home, where he remained until April 22nd, having been ill and confined to bed, and being medically, suffering from malarial fever. On the 22nd April he left his home to return to Knowsley Park, and his wife heard no more from him until she identified his body in the Wigan mortuary that (Wednesday) morning.

When discovered deceased was found to be in possession of a military pass, and also a railway ticket from Manchester to St. Helens, via Bryn, which had been issued on the early morning of April 23rd. The case, said the Coroner, was a very extraordinary one, and it was a mystery how the man got to where his body was found, which was in an enclosure near the railway station, and deceased must have got over or fallen over a high wall, a distance of something like 30ft. Whether the deceased had been trying to get out of the station to avoid the military police, he could not say, or whether he had lost his way and fallen from the wall, could not be said. He (the Coroner) could not make it out at all. He certainly did not think that the deceased went there for the purpose of taking his life. It did not seem to be a case of suicide, it was such an extraordinary way to adopt to take his life. It was an extraordinary case, and was a mystery as to how he could have got in such a position. He must have been getting over the wall, thinking in the dark that it was part of the station premises, and not thinking but that the place was level, had fallen into the enclosure from the wall. The Coroner added that he had been informed that the railway ticket found on the deceased had been issued from the 1:15 (night) train, so that it would be dark when the deceased was at Wigan Station.

Elizabeth Porter, widow of the deceased identified the body, and said deceased belonged to the Regular Army, and had been station at Knowsley Park since last November. He arrived home on April 7th on a day's leave, and should have returned on April 8th, but was taken ill, and was at home under medical treatment till April 22nd (Sunday night), when he left home to return to the depot. When he left home he was in good spirits, but his health was not so grand. He had been ill will malarial fever and chronic catarrh.

Sergeant W. Chadwick (Cheshire Regiment stationed at Knowsley Park) said he had known deceased since November 28th last, when he arrived at the depot. The Coroner: "On sick leave?" Witness: "I presume so." Witness said deceased was granted a day's leave of absence from the deport on April 8th. The Coroner (handing witness a paper): "Is this his pass" - "Yes, sir." "He was due back next day?" - "Yes, at midnight."

Edward Bailey (10), 5 Wood's Grove, gave evidence that he was playing with other boys about eight o'clock on Monday night in the railway yard behind Queen Street, when his cap was thrown into the enclosure near the railway line. He went to get his cap and saw a soldier lying, as he thought, a sleep in the enclosure. He informed the other boys, who also went into the enclosure, and they found the man was dead. The boys at once informed the police.

Police-sergeant Porter (Coroner's Office) deposed to receiving information about eight o'clock on Monday night of the discovery of the body. He went to the spot with the ambulance and removed it the mortuary. The place was known as the old Faggy-lane, and used to be a footpath to the iron bridge. The distance from the wall to the ground was about 30ft. Witness examined the body and found the pass and railway ticket (produced). Witness also found a large dent at the back of deceased's head.

The Coroner again pointed out that it would be dark when the deceased was in Wigan Station, and he might have lost his way or thought that ground was level on the other side of the wall. It was altogether unaccountable - whole thing. It was most extraordinary, quite a mystery, but it did not seem to be a case of suicide. Personally, he thought deceased being a stranger, got where he was quite by accident. A Juror: "I think he must have thought it was level ground." The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death," and the jury expressed their sympathy with the widow and relatives. The Coroner: "I associate myself entirely with that sympathy. It is a very sad case indeed.

Wigan Examiner, April 28th 1917.