Skid Caused Soldiers Death – Unlucky Conisbrough Accident

February 1946

South Yorkshire Times February 2, 1946

Skid Caused Soldiers Death
Unlucky Conisbrough Accident

A skid on an icy road at Conisbrough, cost a 19 year old soldier his life on Thursday. He was Cornelius Armstrong, a private in the Pioneer Corps, of 6, Finchley Crescent, Newcastle on Tyne, and he thrown on the road when a motor van, travelling in the opposite direction, skidded into the Army truck in the back of which he and three other soldiers were standing.

“This is a most unfortunate accident, which seems to have been entirely due to the dangerous condition of the road that morning,” remarked the Doncaster district coroner (Mr W. H. Carlile), recording a verdict of “accidental death” at the Conisbrough inquest, on Saturday.

Lt John Clowes Allen, East Yorkshire Regiment, said Armstrong worked with him at 17 POW camp Lodge Moor, Sheffield. That day he was detailed to collect the units ration from the POW camp at Doncaster.. The truck was an open one with a canopy and the four men were standing in the rear, the front being stacked with bread. There was a rule that they should not sit on the tail board on the wooden sides, but none against standing.

Dr B. M. Bell, Conisbrough, said was due to haemorrhage following a fracture of the base of the skull.

An ex sergeant in the West Riding police, John Rawes, described the accident which occurred in front of his home, 195, Doncaster Road. As he was standing on the footpath, about 8:15 AM, a Yorkshire traction bus from Doncaster stopped at Edlington Lane end to pickup three children. It skidded as it came to a stop. As the bus moved off the army lorry going towards Doncaster, and the motor van, going towards Sheffield, both on their proper side of the road and proceeding steadily, drew level. The van went between the two other vehicles in overtaking the bus, which was drawing away. There was a crash, the Army lorry turned towards the kerb but was forced back onto the road when the front wheel struck the kerb. Under ordinary circumstances there was sufficient room for the van to pass. The soldier whom he saw lying in the gutter behind the truck, after the collision, was dead when witness went to him.

Driving Was Difficult

The driver of the bus, Arthur Downes, Wyke Road, Burton Grange, Barnsley, said he had had difficulty in driving that morning.

Sgt Quigley Bolton, Pioneer Corps, who was in the cab of the truck with the driver, said the van skidded slightly and the truck driver pulled his vehicle over to the near side. Then he felt the bump.

Cpl Alfred John Durbin, who was standing in the rear of the truck said nothing unusual happened until the truck began to skid. When the collision occurred another man was thrown against him and he did not see Armstrong disappear. Afterwards he saw the offside corner upright, supporting the canopy, was broken and the canvas torn.

Dvr. Arnold Unwin, RASC, driver of the lorry, said the van pulled out to overtake the bus gradually. When he saw the run skid with its rear towards the nearside, witness pulled his vehicle in intending to mount the curb. The impact of the collision was light. “I thought we had got off lucky,” said witness, “I was most surprised when I saw Armstrong.”

Douglas Raymond Watson, 21, Young Street, Doncaster, driver of the motor van, a three ton vehicle, gave his speed, in evidence, as 15 mph. He released his breaks in an effort to get out of this skid and he allowed plenty of room to pass the bus. It was the first time he had skidded that morning. The collision was a glancing one.