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Soldiers of the Regiment

Colour Sergeant George Henry Brazier


Tragedy at the Barracks: Drink not War

An inquest was held at the Town Hall, by Mr Coroner Holden, on Wednesday night, respecting the sad death of Colour Sergeant George Henry Brazier (42) of the King’s Own Regiment which occurred the previous morning under circumstances pointing to suicide. Deceased was known to the men at White Cross Mill, where he was for sometime employed. He was for a little while at Bay Horse as a coal agent’s manager, but left to go to Chapel-en-le-Frith, where his widow resides.
The Coroner in opening the inquest explained that Brazier had cut his throat with a penknife, and the following evidence was given:-

Company Sergeant Major William Smith, King’s Own Regiment, Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster, identified the body as that of Colour Sergeant George Henry Brazier, aged 42 years, whom he had known 15 years. He served in the Regiment 21 years, and was pensioned in April 1911, but rejoined Lord Kitchener’s army in September as an instructor. Nearly all his service was abroad, India, China and Burmah. He went from the Depot to Tidworth, and after a fortnight had elapsed returned from there owing to being unable to march, about the middle of October. He was then appointed to duty at the Depot, and posted to witness’s Company. He was able to perform the necessary duty. Some years ago he had an accident to his right arm, and wore a strap round the wrist, but otherwise was capable of doing his duty. He seemed in fairly good health, and slept with Sergeant Whybrow in the married quarters. Witness was wakened at 12.15 am by Sergeant Whybrow, who said that “The Colour Sergeant has cut his throat”. Witness went at once, and seeing the man was beyond hope, went to the officers’ mess and telephoned for a doctor from the Infirmary to come immediately. He had Brazier removed before death because there were other people in the room. Witness was present when he died.

Sergeant Thomas Whybrow, on duty at the Depot, said he slept in the same room as Brazier, whom he had known over 20 years. Witness rejoined the regiment on Monday, December 7th, and knew that Brazier was not well. He had been drinking hard, and was restless. Deceased was a big man, and seemed strong when witness got hold of him. He had not heard him suggest that he would do away with himself. Witness did not know he was getting his discharge. Sergeants Shepherd and Hanson were in the room. Witness was wakened by Brazier shouting out, and witness also shouted. Sergeant Shepherd woke and said “Look, Tim; he has cut his throat”. He looked and saw the throat cut. The knife (produced) was lying on the floor in the blood. Deceased had had no drink from the previous Saturday, but did not seem to be in his right mind, and shouted about a man at the window. He went to bed at 8.40 pm on Monday.

Sergeant E Parker, Depot (a member of the Metropolitan Police), said he was called to the deceased’s room and saw Brazier, whom he had known two months. He was a steady, sober man as far as he knew. Witness had not seen much of him, but had not seen him the worse for drink. At 12-5 on Tuesday he heard a shout, and on going into deceased’s room saw he was struggling. After witness had stopped the bleeding and bandaged the wound, Brazier said “Why didn’t you let me cut my head off?” Witness helped to take him to the hospital, and was present when he died, about 12-30 am. Witness could not tell why deceased should kill himself.

Surgeon Major Holmes RAMC, Bowerham Barracks, said that Brazier was sent for examination two days before. He said he had been drinking pretty hard, and although he admitted three or four pints a day, he must have had more. He was suffering from excessive drinking. He would have been discharged owing to his drinking habits.

The Coroner said there was not sufficient evidence to prove the man was of unsound mind, and suggested they should return a verdict of “Killed himself by cutting his throat” which they at once agreed to.



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