Date: 30 Dec 1942
Place: Preston Road, Hull
Malcolm Francis Cummings was found dead in a field near a bomb crater.
He died from cold and exposure and it was thought that he had been taken there and then left. He was three miles away from his home.
Malcolm Cummings's father, who was serving in the National Fire Service, said that on the morning that Malcolm Cummings died, he had dressed him in his Wellington Boots and a navy-blue raincoat and let him out into the front garden with his wheelbarrow to play. He said that afterwards he found that Malcolm Cummings had left the garden and that his mother made a search for him but could not find him.
The father said that after an elder boy returned from school a further search was made in the neighbourhood and then the police were informed.
He said that in the search he went into the fields and came across one that had a bomb crater in it on the lip of which he saw Malcolm Cummings's wheelbarrow. He said that the water at the bottom of the crater was covered in a thin ice but that there was a hole in the ice. He said that he climbed down the side of the crater but could not see anything and added that the clay was slippery and treacherous although added that he had no difficulty in climbing out again.
He said that he then got a fork from a place nearby and then fished about in the water and ice but could not find any trace of Malcolm Cummings.
However, he said that he then noticed a dark object lying on some grass in a field about 20 yards away and discovered that it was his son. He said that his clothes were wet, but not muddy, and that he was still wearing his balaclava helmet.
Artificial respiration was then carried out and Malcolm Cummings was taken to a hut until a police ambulance arrived and he was taken away to the Royal Infirmary where he was pronounced dead.
The father said that he saw two footmarks about a foot from the top of the bomb crater that had been made by the soles of rubber boots the same size as those worn by Malcolm Cummings. He said that they were close together as though he had been standing there.
Malcolm Cummings's father said that to all his knowledge, Malcolm Cummings had never been across the fields previously and that he had never strayed away from home before and added that he believed that Malcolm Cummings had been taken to the bomb crater.
A bombardier said that the water in the bomb crater was shallow and that it would not have covered Malcolm Cummings if he had fallen in, but said that the state of Malcolm Cummings's clothing was consistent with him having fallen into the water and to have then walked away and collapsed.
It was noted that there were no signs of any dragging.
At the inquest, the coroner said, 'It looks as if he had been taken by a child who knew the place'.
A policeman noted that during the morning children had been playing in one of the fields off of Marfleet Lane.
When a 9-year-old boy was questioned, he said that he had been playing with Malcolm Cummings and another boy on the Wednesday morning and said that they had gone into the fields to make snowballs and then afterwards went along Marfleet Lane towards Preston Road and played in front of Cusson's shop. He said that he then said to Malcolm Cummings, 'I am going home', and said that Malcolm Cummings refused to go with him and so he left him and went home for his dinner. He said that there was no one else with Malcolm Cummings at that time.
However, the 9-year-old boy said that they were never in the field where Malcolm Cummings was found and said that he didn't know where the bomb crater was.
A police sergeant said that he had made a careful investigation but had been unable to find any traces of a struggle.
When the coroner summed up, he said that there was insufficient evidence to show how Malcolm Cummings had come to be in the field. He also noted that although Malcolm Cummings's clothes were wet, the post-mortem did not reveal that that he had been immersed in the water, noting that the doctor had found that there was no water in Malcolm Cummings's lungs or stomach and an open verdict was returned.
see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 06 January 1943