Date: 5 Nov 1948
Place: 13 Castle Hill Road, Dover
Alan Emrys Williams was found lying in the gutter outside his home. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital on 4 November 1948 at 6.40am in an unconscious condition but his condition deteriorated, and he died the following day at 1.45pm.
He was a miner. It was thought that he had come back home from the colliery where he worked after finishing a shift at 10pm on his stepson’s motorbike, but had fallen off and then taken a bus back to Dover. However, it was not known where he had gone or been in the seven hours between when he should have returned and when he was found, or why he had no money or key on him when he was found or why he did not go into his home when he arrived.
His inquest returned the verdict that he had died as the result of an accident aggravated by exposure.
Alan Williams was known locally by his proper name, however, it was later determined that he had been working at the Tilmanstone Colliery under the name of Ernest Alan Hewitt.
He had left Tilmanstone Colliery on the night of 3 November 1948 on his stepson’s motorcycle which was noted as being the first time that he had ridden it to work. It was found that he had fallen from the motorcycle at Sutton and had then taken a miners' bus into Dover, leaving the bus in Russell Street soon after 11.30pm. However, it was noted that that was the last that was seen of him until he was found outside his home over six hours later.
The doctor that carried out his post-mortem said that he found no marks of external injury but did find that he had a fine fracture in his right temple bone and a haemorrhage in his skull. He added that he also had signs in his lungs of pneumoconiosis. He said that his death was due to haemorrhage that was consistent with a blow to his head.
He added that he thought that Alan Williams's condition upon admission to hospital was consistent with having lain somewhere outdoors for seven hours during the night and having suffered from exposure.
The doctor added that he thought that if Alan Williams had not suffered from shock and exposure for so long that an operation might have saved his life.
Alan Williams's sister who lived in Victoria Avenue in Margate said that Alan Williams was always called Alan and that the names he used were Alan Emrys Williams although his real name was Daniel Emrys Williams although she added that it might have been Emrys Daniel Williams.
When the coroner asked Alan Williams's sister whether she knew that Alan Williams had two identity cards, one for where he worked in Sandwich under the name of Ernest Alan Hewitt and the other for Dover where he lived under the name of Alan Emrys Williams, she said that she didn't and knew of no reason why he should use two names. She also added that the name Hewitt had no connection with her family.
A policeman said that at 11pm on Wednesday 3 November 1948, that he had been on duty on the main Dover to Sandwich Road at Sutton when a bus-driver reported that there was a motorcycle in a field about 200 yards along the road and that there was a man walking along the road. The policeman said that he then saw Alan Williams who he said then asked him if the last bus for Dover had gone. The policeman said that he then asked Alan Williams whether he had come off his motorcycle and said that he replied, 'Yes, it skidded'. He said that when he asked him whether he was injured, Alan Williams replied, 'I am badly shaken up'. However, he said that he refused assistance and said that he wanted to be put on the last miner's bus to Dover. The policeman said that he shone his torch at Alan Williams but said that he showed no signs of being injured and said that he then saw him get on the bus without assistance and go upstairs. He said that Alan Williams told him that he would collect his motorcycle the following day.
The policeman said that when he went to the field where the motorcycle was the following day he found it about a yard inside the field near the junction with Eythorne Road on the offside of the road going from Sandwich to Dover.
A miner from Dover who lived in Winchelsea Street who had also worked at the Tilmanstone Colliery said that he had been on the upper deck of the last miner's bus in which Alan Williams, who he knew as Ernest Hewitt, joined at the Royal George in Waldershare. He said that Alan Williams sat beside him and seemed to be quite poorly. He said that when he asked Alan Williams what had happened to him, he told him that he had skidded off his motorcycle. The miner said that Alan Williams held his head all the way to Dover. He said that when he got off the bus, he asked the conductor to see that Alan Williams got off the bus all right.
The bus driver said that the policeman told him that Alan Williams had had a spill and wanted a lift to Dover but said that he knew nothing more about his condition. He said that Alan Williams had a ticket and he took him to the garage in Russel Street and that when he got out of his cab and was going to see if Alan Williams wanted any assistance, he saw him walking up St James Street towards Woolcomber Street.
Alan Williams was next seen by a bombardier who was stationed at the Castle at 6.05am on 4 November 1948. He said that he was walking from the Castle to South Front Barracks when, as he passed 13 Castle Hill Road, he saw Alan Williams lying partly in the gutter and partly on the footpath. He said that Alan Williams appeared to be unconscious and so he went to a nearby house and got them to summon the police.
Alan Williams's wife said that she and Alan Williams had the top floor flat at 13 Castle Hill Road. She said that when Alan Williams worked late the lights were left on for him to extinguish. However, she said that on the night of 3 November 1948 there had been visitors to the premises below and that when they had left the lights were put out.
When Alan Williams's wife gave evidence, the coroner asked her what the name of her husband was and she replied Alan Emrys Williams. However, when she was asked what name she had married him under, she said Hewitt. However, she said that when she met him, she knew him as Williams. When the coroner asked her to explain, Alan Williams's wife said that when they went to put up the banns that he told her that when he had come out of the Army he could not get back to the pits because he had been discharged as unfit and so he had got identity cards off someone and had gone back to Tilmanstone as Hewitt. She said that he told her that he was entitled to an Army pension but that he had never bothered about it. She said that she knew after they were married that he had two identity cards.
Alan Williams's wife said that on 3 November 1948 that Alan Williams had gone off to work on her son's motorcycle. She said that he had ridden the machine before and had had one before but that it was the first time that he had taken it to work. She said that he usually got home at about 11.30pm or 11.45pm and that he had a latchkey and would have had £1 on him when he left. However, she said that he didn't come home at his normal time, but said that she stayed up waiting for him until 3am, continually looking out of the window, but dozed off until she later heard cars arriving outside when Alan Williams was found. She said that she went out just after Alan Williams had been taken off to hospital.
It was noted that Alan Williams's clothes were fairly dry when he was found even though there had been a certain amount of rain in the night and the coroner asked Alan Williams's wife if she had any idea where he might have been and she said that she could only imagine that he had sheltered in a bombed out house.
It was noted that when Alan Williams was found he had no money and his latch key was missing and neither his cigarette case or teeth could be found.
Alan Williams's wife said that she thought that Alan Williams must have had his latch key when he left the house as she had searched for it but been unable to find it. She noted that his cigarette case bore the town arms on it.
The police confirmed that when Alan Williams was found that he had no money or key on him and said that although they tried to trace his movements between the time be got off the bus and when he was found, they could find no information.
The police said that there were some war-damaged buildings not far away with cellars but that when they searched them, they found nothing to indicate that Alan Williams had been there.
The police also noted that there had been three police officers in the vicinity of St James Street between 11.30pm and midnight, but that none of them had seen Alan Williams.
They also noted that there was no trace of Alan Williams having ever been in the Services.
When the coroner summed up, he said that it was a complete mystery as to what happened to Alan Williams after he was seen walking up St James Street until the time that he was found the following morning and suggested that they might never know unless by some chance his latch key was found.
The coroner added that he did not doubt for a moment that the only injury that Alan Williams had suffered was that which he received when he skidded off his motorcycle and said that there was nothing from which they could even infer that there had been any sort of interference.
The jury returned their verdict that Alan Williams died as a result of an accident aggravated by exposure without leaving or retiring.
He said that he thought that it was possible that Alan Williams had been sheltering somewhere during much of the night.
When the coroner referred to Alan Williams's use of two names, he said that he thought that Alan Williams's wife's explanation was a little extraordinary, stating that whilst he accepted that that was the explanation Alan Williams had given to her, that it did not strike him as being at all convincing.
see Dover Express - Friday 19 November 1948
see Dover Express - Friday 12 November 1948
see Dover Express - Friday 05 November 1948