Open Verdict – On Victims of Warren Vale Road Smash

December 1942

South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 19 December 1942

Open Verdict

On Victims of Warren Vale Road Smash

The inquest on the three victims of Warren Vale Road smash on December 7th was held at Parkgate on Friday.

The men were: Frederick William Webb (48), and his son Douglas Frederick Webb (20), of 23, Romwood Avenue, Swinton: and Walter G. Allen (30), of 38, Windhill Crescent, Mexborough.

The inquest was opened at Rawmarsh Urban Council room, Parkgate, and was conducted by Mr. A. P. Lockwood, Sheffield District Coroner.

Mr. D. Dunn, solicitor (of Fenoughy and Dunn) represented Mrs. Webb, widow of one victim and mother of another; Mr. A. Ward, solicitor, Doncaster, represented Messrs. Appleyard and Lumb, of Conisbrough, owners of one of the lorries: Mr. A. H. Jackson, solicitor (of Arthur Jackson & Co.), appeared for Mr. H. Sheard, of Pontefract, owner of the other lorry.

Supt. Marshall and Inspector Lawrence, of the Rotherham West Riding Police, were also present.

Evidence of identification was given by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Webb, who said her husband and son for the past two years had been employed as fitters on work for the Admiralty in Sheffield. The son usually went with the father to work riding pillion. So far as she knew the motor cycle was in good condition. Her husband had been riding to and from Sheffield for about six years. He had been using the same motor cycle for the past two years. The father and son left home on Monday at about 6.30 p.m. to go to work. Her husband was in his usual health: he had good eyesight and good hearing.

What Constable Saw.

P.c. Hilton Lodge of the West Riding police, stationed at Rawmarsh, who was called to the scene of the smash, gave a description of what he found and his opinion as to what had happened.

When he got to the place the body of the lorry driver who had been killed had been removed from the roadway to the side. After describing the positions of the two lorries the witness said in each case the vehicles were in first class condition. One lorry of four tons had a load of six tons of basic slag. The motor cycle was wedged under the front of one of the lorries. Owing to the damage to the motor cycle he was unable to test the lights. The damage included the breaking and disintegration of the headlamp. He was unable to ascertain if the rear lamp had been in a turned on condition.

Giving his view of what might have happened the witness said it appeared as if the driver of the second lorry was trying to pass the other vehicle and that when he found the motor cycle was in front he attempted to pull back. In doing so he caught the back end of the other lorry with his vehicle with a glancing blow, throwing both his own and the other lorry out of control. He then appeared to havej from his lorry or stepped into the roadway.

In giving evidence as to the injuries of the men killed, the witness said it would appear that in each case death was instantaneous. The weather was fine at the time and the roads were dry.

William Henry Green, of 311. Windhill Crescent, Mexborough, gave evidence of identification concerning the lorry driver, Walter Gorge Allen, who was his son-in-law.

George Redfern, lorry driver’s mate, of 10, Old Hill, Conisbrough, employed by Messrs. Appleyard and Lumb, Conisbrough, said he was in the lorry with Allen. They were travelling between five and 15 miles an hour when they saw a lorry in front of them. He thought it was stationary or moving at about three miles an hour. His driver, Walter George Allen, started to pull out 35 yards from the back of the first lorry. They got to about the middle of the road, when he saw a motor cycle outlined in his own lorry lights about 16 yards away. As soon as he saw it he thought there would be a collision, and ducked and got below the level of the windscreen, so as to be safe from any flying glass. The motor cycle was on the wrong side of the road and just over the white centre line. There was a head-on crash. The motor cycle struck the lorry on the near side front wheel, and the lorry was knocked to the right-hand side of the road. After the lorry stopped he got up to ask the driver if he was all right. To his amazement the driver was not in his seat and he received no answer. The door on the driver’s side of the lorry was open. He (witness) got out and struck a match. He saw the motor cycle under the front wheel and found his driver lying in the middle of the road ten yards behind the lorry. He did not know how or when the driver got out of the lorry.

Felt Big Bump.

Derick Machin, 17, lorry driver of 5, Orchard Head Lane, Pontefract, said at 6.50 p.m. on Monday he was driving along Warren Vale Road, in the direction of Swinton. He had a load of empty beer casks and cases containing empty beer bottles. He was driving two feet from the left-hand side kerb, and thought his speed would be between 15 and 18 miles an hour. He heard a motor cycle coming from the opposite direction, but did not see it until it was nearly level with him. He felt a big bump at the back of his lorry which made it swing to the middle of the road. He applied brakes and pulled up within a wagon’s length.

The Coroner before recording his verdict, said the only persons who could have given sufficient information were dead. Every effort had been made to find witnesses, but none of those traced had been able to throw much light upon the matter. He had, therefore, no option but to record an open verdict in each case.

The Funerals.

The funeral of Mr’ Walter Georg Allen took place at Mexborough Cemetery on Sunday, the Rev. J H. Cretney officiating.