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Gerald Cyril Wooltorton

Age: 31

Sex: male

Date: 14 May 1957

Place: River Camel Estuary, Cornwall

Gerald Wooltorton was found dead in the River Camel Estuary on Tuesday 14 May 1957.

He was a farmer and lived in Boyton near Leaunceston and had been missing since 21 January 1957.

He was last seen when he had gone out to shoot wild fowl in the Camel Estuary.

His body was found by fisherman from St Minver. The fisherman was over 70-years-old and retired and had been out fishing with his fishing rod when he saw Gerald Wooltorton's body floating on the surface. He then informed the police who recovered the body and took it to Wadevridge mortuary.

When Gerald Wooltorton's was found he was still wearing his thigh-length waders and had his field glasses slung over his shoulders. It was said that it was obvious that his body had been in the water for a long time.

He was last seen after lunch on 21 January 1957 when he left his wife and three children at Boyton to drive to the Camel Estuary for an afternoon's shooting. He had taken his double-barrelled shotgun, a shooting bag and a pair of wading boots with him. However, when he didn't return later that night his wife called the police and his car was found early the following morning in a narrow lane that led to the river. His shoes were found inside the car on the floor.

The police, coastguard, troops from the depot of the Duke Of Cornwall's Light Infantry Barracks at Bodmin and local civilian volunteers formed search parties to look for him across the banks of the river and estuary for nearly two weeks but without luck.

His gun was found on a sand bank in the middle of some treacherous quick sands along with his waterlogged shooting bag, but there was no trace of him until he remerged on 21 January 1957.

His post mortem was unable to find any cause of death and an open verdict was returned with the finding of 'found dead'.

It was thought that following his disappearance that his body had remained beneath the river silt until it remerged. The Coroner noted that the decomposition of his body was surprisingly small considering the length of time that he had been missing which he said inferred that he had been covered by the mud.

His body was identified by his dentist who had been attending Gerald Wooltorton for ten years and who was able to identify him from his teeth. The dentist said, 'Teeth are something like finger prints, you will practically never find two sets alike'. The dentist added that he also recognised Gerald Wooltorton's leather belt which had a brass buckle that he had often seen Gerald Wooltorton wearing.

At the inquest the dentist noted that he knew that Gerald Wooltorton had been a member of the Cornwall Wildfowlers' Association and would often go shooting on the River Camel near Wadebridge.

A police sergeant said that Gerald Wooltorton was reported missing at 11.15pm on the night of 21 January 1957. He said that considerable searches were made and that his car was found at the top of a farm lane leading to Old Town Cove on the Padstow side of the Camel Estuary. He added that the shotgun and shooting bag were later found on the sandbank nearby.

The police sergeant said that Gerald Wooltorton's body, which was found on the 14 May 1957, was found on the other side of the estuary about half a mile further down the river.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Cornish Guardian - Thursday 23 May 1957

see Cornish Guardian - Thursday 16 May 1957