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Frank Martin Pearce

Age: 55

Sex: male

Date: 15 Jan 1961

Place: Westminster Bridge, London

Frank Martin Pearce died from an aspirin overdose.

However, there was a two week gap in his life that could not be account for and an open verdict was returned.

He had been a solicitor's clerk and had lived in New Village Road, Cottenham in East Yorkshire.

His wife said that Frank Pearce had been a prisoner of war in Europe for over five years and had never been quite the same as a result of that experience although he never complained about it.

She said that on 2 January 1961 that Frank Pearce left home as usual to go to work but didn't come back although she did receive three telegrams and a letter from him, the note paper used bearing the address of the Bedford Hotel in Russel Square, London. She added that she also received a postal order for £5 from him.

A solicitor from Hull said that Frank Pearce had been his clerk and said that there was no reason to think that Frank Pearce had left because there was anything wrong at the office. He said that his work was satisfactory and that he had not been given notice by the firm.

The solicitor said that Frank Pearce had complained of pains in his body that he had said a doctor had told him were due to malnutrition that he had suffered whilst a prisoner of war.

Frank Pearce was seen by a policeman wearing an old raincoat in Whitehall at about 2am on 15 January 1961.

The policeman saw him again later that morning at 5.30am in Bridge Street outside Westminster Underground station. He said, 'He gave a terrific lurch and fell to the ground. I went to assist him and he got up and walked off towards Westminster Bridge. There he collapsed again. He was twitching violently. I asked him to grab the railings while I went away and called an ambulance. He could not tell me what was wrong with him, but he said he had been living at that National Hotel, Bedford Row and that he was on holiday. He seemed very confused'.

However, the policeman said that he could not trace the address that Frank Pearce gave him.

Frank Pearce was taken to Westminster Hospital. He was conscious at 10am but died two hours later at 12am. The doctor that attended to him said that Frank Pearce would only answer certain questions but after he died said that he thought that he had been suffering from aspirin poisoning.

The pathologist that carried out his post mortem said that his death was due to a single large overdose of aspirin. However, he said that the although the aspirin had been in excess of a medicinal dose, it was not overwhelmingly so.

After hearing the evidence, the Coroner said that there was a great mystery as to where Frank Pearce had been in the two weeks since leaving his work and his wife in East Yorkshire, adding that there was no trace of any of the hotels at which he might have stayed.

The Coroner said that there was no doubt about his honesty but that the experience of having been a prisoner of war was bound to have had some effect on him.

He said, 'But there is this gap of two weeks during which there is no information as to what he was doing until he was seen by the policeman'.

The Coroner then recorded an open verdict, stating that there was insufficient evidence as to the circumstances.


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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Westminster & Pimlico News - Friday 27 January 1961