Morecambe Guardian 10 March 1928:-
FELL INTO THE SEA.
Boy Scout Drowned Near the Old Jetty.
Whilst fishing from the old Jetty head on Saturday morning, George Philip Hughes Daniels, aged 12, a well-known Boy Scout, fell into the sea and was drowned.
After the tide had receded, the body was recovered and carried on a stretcher to the ambulance van about 1-45. The promenade near the jetty contained a large number of people, and heads were bowed as the body was taken to the ambulance van.
The inquest was held at the Morecambe Police Station on Monday afternoon by Mr. Neville Holden, Coroner.
CAUTIONED BY CORONER.
The proceedings were delayed for some time owing to the late arrival of Mr. William Jackson, one of the principal witnesses.
The Coroner said,” What explanation can you give for arriving 10 minutes late?”
Mr. Jackson: I missed the 5 minutes past four ‘bus, and there has not been another since then.
The Coroner: What time were you warned to be here?
Mr. Jackson: At twenty past four, I apologise. I am very sorry, but I could get no car to take me down.
The Coroner: In future don’t depend on cars on buses, but make certain you get here in the proper time. I was just wondering whether to fine you or issue a warrant for your arrest, and letting you spend the night in the cells, both of which I have power to do, but since you have expressed your regret, I will refrain from doing so.
The first witness called was Coun. William Daniels, licensee of the Chieftain Hotel, Pedder-street, grandfather of the deceased. He spoke to identifying the body as his grandson, George Philip Hughes Daniels, aged 12 years.
Upon being questioned as to the boy being subject to fits, Mr. Daniels said that he had had fairly good health, although when at school he had had a fit and was then attended by Dr. Jose Watterson. He had had three in the last nine years, the last being about three months ago, when he was employed as an errand boy.
The Coroner: He would become suddenly unconscious and drop down? – Yes.
Asked when he last saw the boy alive, Mr. Daniels said Saturday morning, when his uncle called for him to go fishing.
William Jackson, 20, Sefton-road, Heysham, said he called for his nephew at 8-30 on Saturday morning last, and took him to the Old Jetty to fish. After fishing for some time, the boy went down the steps. That would be about 11 o’ clock. Witness warned him, but the boy replied, ” I’m all right, uncle.”
The Coroner: Did you hear anything unusual?
Witness: Four boys came along the jetty and asked me the the usual questions as to whether I’d caught anything. As they became rather noisy, I told them to go away. They went below and came running up the steps, screaming,” There’s a man in the water, fetch a policeman.” Witness rushed down and saw his nephew’s head above the water. The strange part about it was that only the head was in view, the hair floating on the water. He assumed the water would be just over two feet below the sub-way. He tried to reach down to him, but finding it impossible pulled the cord attached to the boy’s wrist.
For a moment he saw the boy’s face with the eyes open, but then the cord snapped. Rushing to the top, he called to the two men who had accompanied him while fishing. The latter were then halfway along the jetty and upon hearing his call turned and waved back, evidently thinking he was joking with regard to a “catch.”
The Coroner: Can you swim? -Yes, a few yards or so.
In reply to the Coroner’s question as to whether there was any movement in the body, Jackson replied that there was none, except that actuated by the water. He had always thought the deceased to be a healthy lad.
Sergeant Kay, upon receiving the information at 11-40 a.m., proceeded to the Old Jetty and in the company of two fishermen went out in a small boat to try and recover the body by grappling.
They recovered the body three yards from the end of the Old Jetty.
The Coroner: Is there any danger at this old place? -The top is railed round by chains, though below it is unprotected.
Witness understood it was unused.
In his summing up, the Coroner said there was just a chance the boy had had an epileptic fit and had fallen unconscious into the water. In any case, it was a pure accident, and he would return a verdict of “Accidental Drowning.”
Pathetic figures at the graveside.
Impressive scenes were witnessed at the funeral on Tuesday afternoon. The previous day the body was brought from the mortuary to S. Laurence church, were Mr. W Daniels (father), Mr. George Philip Daniels and Mr. William Jackson (uncles), the Scoutmaster (Mr. George Whittles), Assistant Scoutmaster (Mr. C. W. Harmsworth), and Mr. F Raynor (Secretary) guarding the coffin during the night.
In the evening the general public were admitted and many people viewed the body.
The cortege left the church on Tuesday afternoon, after the service conducted by the Rev. J. Egerton Ward. The pall bearers were Assistant Scoutmaster C. W. Harmsworth, Scouts R. Procter, P. Smith and E. Park. A double line of Boy Scouts, with black hat bands, headed the procession. An incident of interest was noticed on York Bridge, where a pavement “artist”, an ex-Serviceman, was seated. When the hearse was passing, he rose and stood at attention with head bared.
The scenes at the graveside were very pathetic. Sobbing relatives surrounded the surpliced figure of the Rev. Egerton Ward as he read the service, while occasionally a lady near the side burst into fitful crying.
(Chief mourners are listed, together with floral tributes received).
A beautiful wreath, composed of yellow daffodils, with the inscription,” Be Prepared,” and cards bearing the following words,” a Scout in whom was no guile. Trusty, loyal and helpful, Brotherly, courteous and kind. Obedient, smiling and thrifty. Pure as the rustling wind. In deepest sympathy from his comrades, the Officers and Boys of Morecambe Boy Scouts,” was amongst the tributes.