Unsolved Murders

Charles Henry Thomas Grover

Age: 50

Sex: male

Date: 28 Jun 1924

Place: River Thames, Woolwich

Charles Henry Thomas Grover disappeared from the free ferry boat Gordon at Woolwich on 16 July 1924 and was later found floating in the river. 

Charles Grover had been a coal merchant and had lived at 213 Cumberland Road in Plaistow.

It was thought that he had disappeared from the ferry boat 'Gordon' on 16 July 1924 at Woolwich.

His wife said that he had complained of pains in his head since a severe thunderstorm 13 years earlier and had suffered from nervous breakdowns.

She said that on Wednesday 16 July 1924 he left home for business, saying that he would not be any longer than an hour and a half, noting that he had been quite cheerful and that the day had been hot and oppressive.

She said that when he didn't return she thought that he might have fallen in front of a bus and notified the police. However, on the Friday she was informed that Charles Grover had been recovered from the river.

Charles Grover's wife said that her husband had been a life-long staunch teetotaller, and that he had felt giddy when he had left home on the Wednesday morning.

A police constable said that he had been on duty on the ferry boat on the Wednesday afternoon and that shortly after it left North Woolwich he saw a body floating in the water.

However, Charles Grover's body was not recovered until the Friday morning when it was found off Woolwich Dockyard.

The police surgeon that carried out the post mortem said that his death had taken place two or three days earlier and that he had died from suffocation due to drowning.

A man that had lived in Christchurch Street, East Greenwich, said that he saw a man jump over the footbridge of the ferry.

It was noted that the man had been late at the inquest. He had been instructed to attend at 11am, but had wired to say that he could not attend until 12 noon, stating that he was a book keeper and was waiting to fix up work for the next four months. The was then an exchange between him and the Deputy Coroner:

Deputy Coroner: Do you understand what you are talking about?

Man: I think so. I first received warning to attend on Friday morning.

Deputy Coroner: It is the duty of every citizen to appear at a court of enquiry regardless of any business.

Man: Will the court or the country pay me for the loss of business?

Deputy Coroner: You are liable to punishment and penalty if you do not attend.

Man: I had no written notice! Only word of mouth.

Deputy Coroner: An enquiry of this character is of the highest importance. Quite apart from a legal obligation there is a moral obligation. It is not a case in which you can please yourself.

The man was reported to have then made another observation, but the Deputy Coroner told him to be decent in the witness box.

The man then went on to say that he had been on a ferry boat proceeding from North to South Woolwich and saw from another ferry:

A person fall off the ferry boat.

He said that as far as he could say the person was male, and had been wearing a blue serge coat and grey check cap.

When he was asked whether the person had been a male, the man said that it might have been a female dressed up in male clothes. He noted that he saw the person fall off, but could not say whether they had jumped off.

He added that he could not remember what he had said to the police constable earlier, saying that his memory was not as good as that.

The Deputy Coroner then told the man that he had to improve his memory, reminding him that he was on oath, and then asked the man whether he said to the police constable:

I saw him jump off the footbridge.

However, the man said that he could not absolutely definitely say that he did, noting that he had been very excited at the time.

When the Coroner then asked the man whether he was saying, on thinking it over, that the man had not jumped off, the man said that if one used common sense that it would have been impossible for the person to have jumped off, noting that he had subsequently looked over the ferry boat very closely that morning.

When the Deputy Coroner asked him whether he saw the man in the water, he said, 'Yes. That is his cap'.

The Coroner then asked him:

Deputy Coroner: Thinking it over you deny the accuracy of your statement to the constable?

Man: If I made that statement, I deny it.

Deputy Coroner: Your attitude in the witness-box is no credit to you. You may go!

Man: Thank you.

After hearing the evidence the Coroner returned an open verdict , noting that there had only been one witness who saw Charles Grover go into the water, and that there had been a difference in his statement of jumping or falling in.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see West Ham and South Essex Mail - Friday 25 July 1924

see West Kent Argus and Borough of Lewisham News - Friday 25 July 1924