Date: 16 Jun 1940
George Herbert Farr was shot on a train.
He was a soldier and had been on the train with a number of other soldiers.
He had been seated in the train as it drew into Altrincham station from Manchester on Sunday 16 June 1940 when he was shot in the back from an adjoining compartment.
Another 20-year-old soldier, a private in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, was charged with his manslaughter but later discharged after the Chairman announced that the Bench did not think that a prima facie case had been made out against the soldier, enough to send him to the Assizes. However, a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions said that they would appeal the decision.
The prosecution said that the soldier had been on the train with two other soldiers travelling from Manchester and that the soldier had taken a rifle that belonged to one of the other soldiers down from the rack and had 'fiddled about with it'. It was said that there was later the report of a gun and that the soldier jumped up with a wound in his right foot. However, screams could also be heard from the next compartment and it was found that the bullet had also hit George Farr who had been sitting in that compartment. When the soldier was charged, he said, 'I say it was accidental'.
The bullet had penetrated the upholstery and the partition between the two compartments and had entered George Farr's back. However it had also gone through the privates foot and the prosecution said that there was no doubt that the bullet had gone through the privates foot and then through the upholstery and then through the compartment partition and struck George Farr in the back.
George Farr was found to be dead on arrival at Altrincham General Hospital.
The post-mortem stated that George Farr had lost a large quantity of blood and that his death was due to shock and haemorrhage.
When the private was charged he replied, 'I say it was accidental'. He said that he had applied the safety catch and had started to point the rifle round the carriage. He then said, 'Going into Altrincham I was pressing the trigger to and fro when all of a sudden it went off. I felt the pain in my right foot'. His defence said that at the time that the gun had gone off that he had been pointing it at a vacant seat in front of him and could not have supposed that he would have killed anyone, noting that he had not known of the presence or existence of George Farr in the next compartment.
Another fusilier that had been in the same compartment as the private said that he had gone to sleep but had been awakened by the report of the rifle and saw the private, who was leaning against the carriage door, wounded, with his foot bleeding. He added that immediately after the sound of the shot that he heard screams from the next compartment. He said that the rifle that was fired was his and that when he had placed it on the luggage rack that it had not been loaded.
Another soldier, a signaller, said that he had been in the same compartment as the private and that he had felt the blast of the bullet in his face. He said that he had previously seen the private resting the muzzle of the rifle on his right boot.
However, the case against the private was thrown out at the magistrates hearing. Nothing more is known about the Director of Public Prosecutions indication that they would appeal the verdict.
During the evidence it was heard that both George Farr and the private had been previously evacuated from Dunkirk.
George Farr had lived in Argyle Avenue in Luton and it was noted that he had been in Flanders. He was a Private in the RASC.
see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 25 June 1940
see Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 25 June 1940, p2
see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 25 June 1940, p6
see Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 20 June 1940, p5
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 24 June 1940
see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 25 June 1940
see Liverpool Evening Express - Wednesday 19 June 1940, p4
see Manchester Evening News - Monday 17 June 1940, p3
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 25 June 1940