Date: 14 Apr 1944
Albert Crisp was shot in a piece of wood by the Avon Valley Canal.
He was a private in the Airborne Regiment and had lived in Hollyhurst Road in Darlington.
He had been part of a party of soldiers that had spent the day firing their guns in the wood at tin cans and pieces of wood floating in the canal. It was noted that the location where they had been shooting was not far from where a number of picnic parties had been that had included several children.
A private in the Airborne Regiment that had gone along with the party said that he and Albert Crisp and another man had been on the banks of the canal. He said that they had all taken ammunition from the stores, there being no one present at the time, himself taking 20 rounds, and that they then went off along the canal bank looking for tins to use as targets but couldn't find any. He said that then, after resting, they started to fire at a piece of wood that was in the canal about 20 yards away. He said that there were others of the party on the opposite path and they, (himself, Albert Crisp and the other man) started to run for a bridge to cross the canal so they could join the other men on the other side of the canal. He then said, 'The men on the opposite side started firing towards the bridge at some object in the water, I believe. Albert Crisp was in the rear, and suddenly he grabbed hold of my right hand. There was firing going on at that time. I turned and saw blood spurting from his mouth, and I saw he had been hit. I sort of took hold of him and Crisp half stood up and half stumbled about four paces and then fell on his face. I turned him over on his back. The firing ceased as soon as I shouted across the canal that Crisp had been hit. Crisp looked up at me and said, 'I am done for'. I dropped him over to his side and went in search of an ambulance'.
A lance corporal that had been on the opposite side of the canal to Albert Crisp said that when he saw Albert Crisp stumbling about he thought that he was joking and started to laugh. He added that the majority of the boys thought that Albert Crisp was kidding, and it wasn't until the other private called them that they realised that Albert Crisp had been hit.
A major that examined Albert Crisp said that the bullet had entered the left side of his neck under the ear and had come out just above the shoulder on the other side and concluded that his cause of death was haemorrhage following the wound.
A lieutenant who commanded a company of parachute troops said that on the Easter Monday he had gone down with some of his men to the wood where they fired their guns at tin cans on the canal bank. However, he said that he left the men there just before midday. He added that he had given no permission for the men to go shooting in the afternoon.
It was noted that the men could take live ammunition from the armoury. Several soldiers said that in the afternoon they went to the armoury without asking anyone and took as much ammunition as they wanted.
The lieutenant said that when he later heard that a man had been shot, he ordered stretcher bearers out to take the man to hospital, but said that when he got to the canal bank, he found that Albert Crisp was pulseless.
At the inquest, the Coroner addressed the lieutenant, saying, 'If you are in command of men you must take the responsibility. It was your duty to have seen what was going to happen to the fellow who was shot, to see if anything had been done to save his life. During my experience as a soldier in the last war, to take ammunition in such a manner would have meant nothing less than a general court martial. This seems to have been a most dangerous proceeding as people were picnicking near. I cannot but think this accident was caused by gross neglect or a total disregard for the regulations. I am not going to return a verdict of accidental death but shall bring an open verdict. I should think a military court of inquiry will thrash this matter out'.
see Daily Herald - Friday 14 April 1944
see Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser - Saturday 15 April 1944
see Daily Mirror - Friday 14 April 1944