Date: 15 Oct 1915
Place: Dover Castle
Joseph McCord was found dead at the bottom of a window at Dover Castle.
Joseph McCord was an artilleryman based at the castle.
He was sleeping in a room at the time that was new to him and it was only his second night. There were three other people in the room at the time.
The Coroner said that he had been to the room to look and said that he thought that the window was too small for a man to have fallen through.
Another man that had shared the room with Joseph McCord said that he didn't think that Joseph McCord had gone through the window because when he saw it he said that it was only half open.
The other men that had been in the room admitted that they had been scuffling earlier on but said that it was only in a friendly way and that they had all gone to sleep after.
A doctor said that it was more likely that Joseph McCord had died from injuries caused by a fall from the window rather than from a blow with a weapon.
It was also heard that he had previously been sleeping in a room on the ground floor in which he might have been accustomed to going in and out through the window and that he might have become confused after changing to a room higher up.
At his inquest the Coroner said that he had gone to the hut that he had been stationed in and said that the windows were small, but that they were not impossible to get through. However, he said that he thought that it was impossible for a man to be thrown out through the window against his will. He said that there was a sink in front of the window that he might have climbed on. However, another soldier said that he thought that if Joseph McCord had climbed on the sink that it would have woken him up.
Another gunner said that he had been with Joseph McCord for the whole of the previous evening and said that they had found a pound note which they split between them and spent some of it before going back to their quarters. The gunner said that they had had a drop but nothing out of the way and said that he thought that they were more that way than not. The gunner added that he thought that Joseph McCord was the worse for drink out of the two of them.
The gunner said that when they went back, Joseph McCord went up but that he stayed and talked to another gunner for about 15 minutes and said that when he went up later he pulled the blanket off the corner of Joseph McCord's bed for a lark. He said that Joseph McCord then got up and said that he wanted to go out but he said that he wouldn't let him and so they started to wrestle. He said that there were no blows struck and that they were only holding and falling about over the beds and said that the scuffle only lasted for about ten minutes. When the Coroner asked him if he had lost his temper he said 'No, sir, not much. He did, and he got hold of my throat and made me squeak a bit, and the men in the room then came and assisted me. We were separated, and both then went to bed'. He went on to say that he went to sleep within an hour and was not conscious of anything happening until some chaps in the other room called out to another man there between 12 midnight and 1am, which he said woke him. However, he said that he didn't get up until 7am when he was told that something had happened to Joseph McCord.
The Coroner said that it was strange that he didn't go down to see, as Joseph McCord was his chum, and the man said that another man told him all about it and said that he didn't want to go down and see.
The man said that he had known Joseph McCord from Langdon and Fort Burgoyne. He also said that he had never known Joseph McCord to go out at night and said that he was a very cheerful chap.
Another gunner that had been in the room said that that there were three of them in the room and that he had heard Joseph McCord come back that night between 9pm and 10.30pm and said that Joseph McCord then got undressed and went to bed. He said that a while later he saw Joseph McCord get up and go to the lavatory and then go back to bed. He said that he then fell asleep but was woken by a scuffle and said that Joseph McCord and the other man were wrestling and that they fell on him in his bed. He said that he told them to keep quiet and said that they then quietened down and went to bed.
He said that from the way that they were talking, he did not think that they had had very much to drink.
However, he said that he heard nothing more until about 1.30am when another soldier called him down and said that he believed someone had fallen out of the window.
He said that as he went down he noticed that Joseph McCord's bed was empty and said that he then saw Joseph McCord on the flagstones outside. He said that he then went for a doctor and when he returned with the doctor Joseph McCord was taken into the kitchen where he was bathed with cold water, at which time he was still breathing, although unconscious.
Another gunner that was sleeping in the room adjoining Joseph McCord's room said that he was in bed behind the door and was later aroused by the sound of scuffling from Joseph McCord's room. He said that Joseph McCord appeared to want to go out but that the other gunner wouldn't let him. He said then that it appeared that Joseph McCord got out and then came back shortly after and went to bed, and then a short while later he heard another gunner calling to state that someone had fallen out of the window.
The Coroner said that it was a curious case but said that he didn't think it was a case of any suspicion or any foul play and an open verdict was returned.
see Dover Express - Friday 15 October 1915