Conisborough Soldier Wounded at Tickhill – Farmer Committed for Trial

July 1915

His Baptism
Conisborough Soldier Wounded at Tickhill
Farmer Committed for Trial

A young New Conisborough soldier, Gunnar William Henry Briggs, of the 164th R. F. A. Howitzer Brigade which was raised at Rotherham, has received his baptism of fire in a rather peculiar way. The story was told that the Doncaster West Riding police Court on Tuesday, before Mr J. W. Hodgson (presiding,) Mr J. W. Servant, Mr W. Dodson, Mr O. W. Hinchcliffe, and Mr W. Winstanley (Chairman of the Mexborough Urban District Council), when a Tickhill farmer, Edward Fisher (38), was charged with shooting at Briggs with intent on Sunday, July 18. Briggs went into court clad in a blood splattered uniform. He was defended by Mr full stop G. W. Andrews.

Superintendent. A. J. Minty, in opening the case explained that on Sunday, July 18th Briggs cycled to Tickhill, and when in Wilsic Lane went into the defendant’s pea field. Whilst there he pulled some peas. Defendant, apparently, was in the field too with a double barrelled gun. As Briggs left and was mounting his cycle, he shouted that he would fire if he did not stop. Two shots were heard, and Briggs was hit in the head, back, arm, and thigh. He managed to get to the first cottage in Tickhill, and Dr. Phillips, who was sent for, dressed his wounds. He was later driven home to new Conisborough where he had been confined to his bed, and had been under the care of Dr Ford. He (the Superintendent) pointed out that the defendant had a remedy against the man for taking the peas if he did so. He was not justified in shooting.

William Henry Briggs a miner of the 164 Howitzer Brigade (Rotherham), stationed at Lipton, and residing at Loversall Street, new Conisborough said he was at home on leave on Sunday, July 18th and in the afternoon of that day road to Tickhill on his bicycle. At 8:30 pm he was in Wilsic Road, and he went into a pea field belonging to the defendant, and pulled some peas. Whilst thus engaged he heard someone shout out, but he thought he was shouting to another man. He could not hear what was said, but he thought he was shouting to a man with a dog two fields away. He left the field and got onto his bicycle, but he had no sooner mounted that he heard a shot fired, and when he had got 5 yards away a second shot was fired. He was struck by both shots in the head, back, arms, and thigh. The defendant would then be 25 or 35 yards away. Witness road on to Tickhill and dropped off near a house and he was taken to Dr Phillips, who attended to his wounds. Later he was driven home in a trap. He was afterwards attended to by Dr. Ford, and was ordered to bed, where he had been until Monday. He was still unable to go back to his regiment. When he undressed at home a number of pellet struck out of his clothing.

Replying to Mr G. W. Andrews, he said he had no pillowcase or sack or anything, and the one produced, half full of peas, did not belong to him, and he did not tell the man who took him home he had a pillow slip.

Doctor. C. Ford, of Denaby gave evidence as to the complainant’s injuries. He counted 46 wounds, but he believed there were more. He had extracted a number of pellets, but he was quite full of them yet. Some he had extracted had entered the back of the arm, and he had got them out of the front of the arm. If any of these had struck him in the side of the neck they would have killed him.

Daisy Chester (13), Tickhill, said that on Sunday, at 3:30 PM, she was in Wilsic Road, Tickhill, when she saw the defendant carrying a gun, and shortly afterwards heard two gunshots.

P. C. Thompson, who made enquiries, gave evidence as to an interview with the defendant, who denied all knowledge of the affair, and said that he was not out on the Sunday afternoon after 2.30 and that he had not carried a gun since a year the previous June. He saw him later, and then said, “I was coming down to see you to tell you why I did it. I shouted if he did not stop I would shoot him. I then fired in the air and another barrel at him when he was riding away. I thought he was too far away.”
Defendant handed over the gun produced and the bad of peas, with the remark, “These are the peas the fellow was carrying away. There were 16 lbs of peas.

Sgt Chapple gave corroborative evidence. When he charged him he replied “I did not intend to hurt him. I thought he was too far away.”

For the defence. Mr Andrew said he did not suppose that anyone was so sorry for the man Briggs as the defendant himself. He had lived at Tickhill all his life, was known as a hard-working and industrious man, and had never been in any sort of trouble. He did not go into the field with any malicious interest, and he urged their worships to say that justice would be met by reducing the charge to one of common assault.

The defendant gave evidence, and said that the man was jumping about the pea rows like a frog. He was filling the pillowcase with peas, and he dropped the bag produced as he was getting over the rails. He (defendant) fired the first barrel into the air and the other in defendant’s directions, though not at him. He had no intention whatsoever of hurting him.

Evidence was also given by George Fisher, his brother, and Mr William Turner, a retired hay and straw dealer.

Defendant was committed for trial at the Assizes.