Main CPGW Record
Place of Birth: New Wortley, Leeds, Yorkshire
Service No: ---
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment / Corps / Service: Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Battalion / Unit: 17th (Service) Battalion. (2nd Leeds)
Division: 35th (Bantam) Division
Date of Death: 1915-06-26
CWGC Grave / Memorial Reference: Screen Wall. W. 553.
CWGC Cemetery: LEEDS (LAWNSWOOD) CEMETERY
CWGC Memorial: ---
Non-CWGC Burial: ---
Local War Memorial(s): Not Listed (View Names Not Listed on a Local War Memorial)
Ernest Roscoe was the son of John Thomas and Eliza Roscoe, née Kilburn. John was born at Corby, Northamptonshire and Eliza at New Wortley, Yorkshire.
1881 Bramley, Leeds, Yorkshire Census: Whitecote Hill - Ernest Roscoe, aged 4 years, born New Wortley, Yorkshire, son of John Thomas and Eliza Roscoe.
1891 Leeds, Yorkshire Census: 22, Clarendon Place - Earnest Roscoe, aged 14 years, born Leeds, son of John T.and Eliza Roscoe.
1901 Leeds, Yorkshire Census: 22, Clarendon Place - Ernest Roscoe, aged 24 years, born Leeds, son of John T.and Eliza Roscoe.
Ernest was married to Edith Mary Haigh in 1902.
1911 Leeds, Yorkshire Census: 19, Winston Gardens, Headingley - Ernest Roscoe, aged 34 years, born Leeds, husband of Edith Mary Roscoe.
In the 'Craven Herald' article of 02 July 1915 the mechanic, named William Howson, who survived the accident and gave evidence at the inquest was himself killed in an accident not far from the site of the one that cost Lieut Roscoe his life. He served in the R.N.V.R. as Chief Motor Mechanic William Howson (q.v.).
Photograph: 'Leeds Mercury' (19 June 1915).
Data Source: Craven Herald Article
Entry in West Yorkshire Pioneer Illustrated War Record: ---
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2nd Lieutenant Ernest ROSCOE
Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 35th (Bantam) Division
Soldiers Died Data for Soldier Records
Regiment: Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Battalion: 17th Battalion
Died Date: 26/06/15
Died How: Died
Theatre of War:
CWGC Data for Soldier Records
Country of Service: United Kingdom
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Regiment: West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
Unit: 17th Bn.
Died Date: 26/06/1915
Additional Information: Son of the late John Thomas and Eliza Roscoe, of Leeds.
View Additional Text For Soldier Records
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
ROSCOE Ernest of 14 Rokeby-gardens Headingley Leeds a 2nd lieutenant in His Majesty’s Army died 26 June 1915 on active military service at Skipton Yorkshire Probate Wakefield 2 December to Edith Mary Roscoe widow William Roscoe assurance inspector and Percy Roscoe assurance superintendent. Effects £3086 0s. 6d.
View Craven Herald Articles
25 June 1915
LEEDS ‘BANTAMS’ OFFICERS IN MOTOR CRASH
Shortly before midnight yesterday week a serious accident befell a party of officers of the 17th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Bantams) as they were retuning by motor car from Ilkley to their camp in Raikes Road, Skipton. By some means or other the car over turned in the vicinity of Chelker Reservoir. Second-Lieuts. Ernest Roscoe and Herbert A. Schaap were dangerously injured and three other officers – Lieut. French (the Adjutant), and Second-Lieuts. W.W. Stead and A.S. Tadman suffered bruises and other injuries which necessitated medical attention.
The injured officers were members of a large party which went to Ilkley on Thursday evening for the purpose of seeing a cinema film of the battalion, taken when it was in training at Ilkley. Several of the officers went over on their motor cycles, but the five already mentioned, together with Lieut. E.R. Hepper, hired a motor car at Skipton, in which they made the journey. Owing to a defect developing in the steering gear of this car, another had to be hired at Ilkley for the return journey, and Lieut. A.B. Cohen, who had ridden there on his motor cycle, also joined the party in consequence of his machine having broken down. The chauffeur took a friend with him in addition, so that there were nine people in the car, which, however, was a large and powerful open one. Lieut. French sat by the side of the driver, the latter’s friend rode standing on the footboard, and the other six officers occupied the rear portion of the car.
Ilkley was left about twenty-minutes past eleven, and all went well until a point about 20 yards on the Skipton side of Chelker Reservoir, on the main road between Skipton and Addingham, was reached about a quarter of an hour before midnight. The night was comparatively light and the road offered no difficulties, having a good surface and being fairly straight and level. What exactly happened at first is not quite clear, but it is stated that the car, which was travelling at a high speed, bore to the right, and that as the course was being straightened again one of the back tyres burst, causing the car to swerve round and catch the wall at the side of the road. It then tipped over on to its side, the occupants being thrown out, and the vibration of the engine, which could not be shut off at once, brought the bonnet completely round until the front of the car was pointing in the direction from which it had come.
Some of the occupants hit the ground or wall with much force, and the others were dragged along by the car. Lieut. French was shot quite ten yards out, and Second-Lieut. Stead was dragged along for a few yards. It was quickly found that Second-Lieuts. Roscoe and Schaap were the most seriously injured. The former bled profusely from injuries to the head, and the latter was injured about the head also. The accident happened in a lonely stretch of the road, and owing to the lateness of the hour there was no other traffic. Lieut. Hepper, who was practically uninjured, and the driver, ran and walked nearly three miles back to Addingham to fetch a doctor and conveyances.
In the meantime, the less seriously injured of the party did all they could for their more unfortunate friends. The driver’s friend supported Second-Lieut. Roscoe’s head, and Lieut. Cohen, who suffered little injury, went to fetch water with Lieut. French, who gave active assistance though suffering from an injury to the back. Second-Lieut. Roscoe’s head was bathed, and Second-Lieut. Tadman, who was severely cut about the head, was also treated.
About three-quarters of an hour elapsed before it was possible for assistance to arrive, and then the injured men were relieved to hear Lieut. Hepper returning. He drove up with Dr. Crabtree, and two motor cars from Addingham followed. An Addingham gentleman had arrived on the scene just before, and did what he could. Dr. Crabtree attended to Second-Lieuts. Roscoe and Schaap, who were sent on as quickly as possible to Skipton Hospital. The former was found to be suffering from a severe fracture of the skull, and the latter’s skull was injured also.
The other three injured officers were treated at the hospital, and then taken on to the camp. Second-Lieut. Tadman was the most severely injured of the three, suffering from bruises and bad cuts on the face. His cap, which was cut to ribbons, saved him from more serious injury. Second-Lieut. Stead was badly bruised on the thigh; one of his elbows and his forehead also suffering injury.
The party met with misfortunes all round, for in addition to the motor car used on the outward journey and Lieut. Cohen’s motor cycle breaking down, some of the other officers who cycled had trouble with their machines.
Second-Lieuts. Schaap, Stead and Tadman are Leeds journalists, who served in the ‘Pals’ Battalion before receiving commissions.
Yesterday Lieut. Roscoe was dangerously ill; but Lieut. Schaap was making good progress.
02 July 1915
ROSCOE – June 26th, at the Skipton and District Hospital, as a result of injuries sustained in a motor car accident, Second Lieut. Ernest Roscoe, of the 17th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Bantams), aged 38 years.
02 July 1915
THE RECENT MOTOR SMASH NEAR SKIPTON – DEATH OF LIEUT. ROSCOE
The motor car accident which took place on the evening of Thursday, June 17th, near Chelker Reservoir, between Addingham and Skipton, had a fatal termination early last Saturday morning, when the death occurred in the Skipton Hospital of Second-Lieutenant Ernest Roscoe, of the 17th (Service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Bantams). It will be remembered that several officers were in company with Lieut. Roscoe at the time of the accident (the circumstances of which have been detailed in our columns), but the deceased was the most seriously injured, suffering from an extensive fracture of the skull.
Second-Lieutenant Roscoe, who was 38 years of age, was a well known man in the Leeds district. On the formation of the Bantams Battalion he acted as Adjutant, and he had the honour of being the first officer appointed. In politics he was a Liberal, and was an enthusiastic worker for the Leeds League of Young Liberals. Lieut. Roscoe held the position of managing director of the firm of Messrs. Gawthorpes, sign-writers, Leeds. He leaves a widow and a boy of twelve years of age.
Mr. Edgar Wood, the district Coroner, conducted a formal inquiry in the Board-room at the Skipton Workhouse on Saturday afternoon. Mr. E. Hargraves, C.C., was chosen as foreman of the jury.
The Coroner said that he would not be able to do more than take formal evidence of identification because the principle witnesses were in camp, and he would have to arrange with the Commanding Officer for them to attend the inquiry. After evidence of identification had been given the inquiry would be adjourned until Wednesday afternoon.
William Roscoe, insurance manager, of Grey Garth, West Park, Leeds, said he had identified the body as that of his brother, Ernest Roscoe. The deceased was 38 years of age, and lived at 14, Rokeby Gardens, Headingley. Witness’s brother was a Second-Lieut. In the 17th West Yorkshire’s, and his death took place at five o’clock that morning.
The Coroner expressed his deepest sympathy with the family of the deceased, and said the occurrence was a very sad one.
The Foreman also made a similar expression on behalf of the jury, and said that Lieut. Roscoe was at the time doing his duty for his King and Country.
Mr. Roscoe said that everybody had been kind to them, and he would convey to the bereaved family the remarks made by the Coroner and Foreman.
THE ADJOURNED INQUEST: EXHAUSTIVE INQUIRY
The inquest was resumed on Wednesday, when Mr. Wood conducted an exhaustive inquiry, which lasted four hours. Mr. A.E. Masser, of Leeds, represented Mrs. Roscoe, the widow of the deceased officer; Mr. W. Bateson, of Leeds, appeared for Lieut. Schaap, who was also injured in the accident; Capt. Buckle, of the 17th West Yorkshire Regiment, was present on behalf of the military authorities, and Supt. Vaughan watched the proceedings on behalf of the Police.
The Coroner, at the outset, remarked that in view of certain suggestions which had been made regarding the sobriety of the officers concerned in the case, he had caused most exhaustive inquiries to be made. As a result he was perfectly satisfied that there was not the slightest truth in the suggestions. It had been undeniably established that the officers were sober when they left Ilkley, and as it was impossible for them to obtain liquor of an intoxicating character on the way, they must have been sober at the time of the accident. He was informed by the Police authorities, who knew all the officers, that they were quite sober. Neither, be understood, was the chauffeur under the influence of drink. The Coroner added that Col. Moore, the commander of the Battalion, had been most courteous in the matter of getting the witnesses to Skipton for the adjourned inquiry, and was anxious that the three officers whose evidence had to be taken should be allowed to return that evening. He hoped the jury would assist him in this matter.
Supt. Vaughan said he was in a position to bear out the statement of the Coroner as to the condition of the officers – they were perfectly sober.
Going Rather Fast
Lieut. E.R. Hepper was the first witness. He related how, on the evening of June 17th, five colleagues and himself went to Ilkley in a motor car driven by Lieut. Mackie. Something went wrong with the steering gear of this vehicle and they did not return in it. Another car was hired to bring them back, and Ilkley was left about 11-30 p.m. There were nine persons in the car – seven officers, the driver, and a mechanic, the latter standing on the running board near the driver. Six officers were in the back of the car, four on the seat and two sat on their knees. Lieut. French was with the driver
The Coroner: Did you make any complaint as to how the car was being driven before the accident? – Witness: Personally I did not speak to the driver, but I remarked to one of the other officers that he was going rather fast.
At this point, witness proceeded, he thought the car was travelling on the grass at the right-hand side of the road, which, according to the rule of the road, was the wrong side. It was also swaying about.
The Coroner: Did you hear anyone call out to the driver telling him to go slower? – I did, but I could not say who it was.
Just at the time of the accident, witness went on, there was a ‘tilt up’ as though the car had gone over some stones at the side of the road – it certainly seemed as if they went over something, and then turned. The occupants were thrown out and the vehicle turned on to its right side. Just before the accident Lieut. Roscoe was partially sat on witness’s knee. Prior to the swerving there had been no cause for complaint about the steering. The car was a chain-driven Daimler. Witness suggested that the tyre burst as the result of jolt over, or sudden contact with something. So far as witness knew the driver was perfectly sober, as were the rest of the officers and himself.
Thirty Miles an Hour
The Coroner: In your opinion was the accident caused by the man driving too quickly? – The driver had not got strong headlights on as far as I could remember, and he may have mistaken the stones for the road. – Witness was quite sure the tyre burst before they were thrown out.
Do you think the speed was dangerous just before he went on to the grass? – It is difficult to estimate the speed at night, but I should say we should be going 25 to 30 miles. – Witness did not hear anyone urge the driver to go faster.
Replying to Mr. Masser, witness said he thought the car on which they made the return journey was hired from a Mr. Thackray. When witness arrived at the garage it had already been hired. He first noticed the mechanic travelling on the running board when they were near Addingham. In ordinary circumstances the car would carry five, but on this occasion it carried nine. It was after going up Addingham Hill and nearing Chelker that the driver put on speed, which, in his estimation, developed to between 25 and 30 miles an hour. The car travelled on the grass at the side of the road for about 40 yards.
Mr. Masser: Did you appreciate any effort on the part of the driver to pull the car up or steer it from the grass on to the road? – Witness: I did not.
If he had put his breaks on you would have felt it? – It might have turned the car round more.
But if he had put them on gradually it might have pulled up? – Possibly.
He could have turned? – Yes.
Supposing he inadvertently got on to the grass – as you seem to suggest – and was trying to turn off, the fact of his having a big weight behind and another man on the running board, would militate against his chances? – Yes.
The fact of a car which ordinarily carries five having a load of nine would cause the tyres to deflate? – Certainly.
If you get undue pressure on the back tyres there is a liability to trap? – Yes.
Supposing it is established that you did not touch the stones, that would be the most likely cause of the burst tyre? – Yes.
Replying to further questions witness said he believed the car was fitted with oil headlights.
Mr. Masser: If so, it was all the more reason why a man in a district like this should be going slowly.
In answer to Mr. Bateman, witness admitted hearing someone say at the garage that there seemed to be a good number for the car to carry.
An Officer’s Comments after the Accident
Harry Lowis, licensee of the Black Horse Hotel, Skipton, said that on the night of the accident he was returning from Bradford via Ilkley in a car driven by Mr. Walter Clegg, of the garage attached to the hotel. They reached the scene of the accident about 12-15 a.m., and were met by a man carrying a light who said, “It’s a few yards further down.” Witness and Mr. Clegg did not know to what the man referred, but a short distance along the road they came up with a number of officers and ascertained that there had been an accident. The officers were perfectly sober. Witness asked one of the officers how the affair happened, and he said they were returning from Ilkley and going pretty fast. The car had been swaying and it suddenly seemed to swerve and turn over. The officer further stated that they had been going too fast, and that he had called on the driver to “steady up.” Which of the officers made this communication to him witness could not say. Witness noticed the position of the car, which was turned across the road. Within two of three feet of the car the wall was down, but the vehicle was not touching it at the time. The following morning witness visited the scene of the accident and saw from the wheel marks that the car had travelled on the wrong side of the road, and that for a distance of about 40 yards it had been on the grass at the side. It seemed to have swerved off the grass again just before reaching a stone heap, as though to get past it.
By the Foreman: You heard it distinctly stated by one of the officers that the car was driven too fast and that the accident followed oscillation and swerving? – Witness Yes, but I could not say who the officer was.
Lieut. W.W.E. French said he was not present when the car was hired, but travelled in front with the driver. No complaint was made about the number of passengers, and so far as he knew the driver was perfectly sober. Once at Addingham, as they were passing another vehicle which could not be seen very well, witness thought the driver got a little too close and said “Be careful,” or words to that effect. Shortly before the accident witness estimated the speed of the car at 30 miles per hour, but made no complaint. Witness remembered the car going onto the grass, but could not say how it got there. During the short time the car was on the grass the driver seemed to be trying to get to the centre of the road. The car seemed to answer at first and then suddenly swung round and charged the wall opposite, where it turned over in a few seconds. The engine was still running when the car went over. Witness had passed along the same road late at night and at a similar speed, but in a modern car which was not so heavily loaded.
Answering Mr. Masser witness admitted that the lights were not strong. He would go so far as to say the lighting was not perfect for fast travelling. Witness could not explain the presence of the mechanic on the footboard of the car. From the moment the vehicle got on to the grass to the time of the accident witness saw no movement on the part of the driver to extricate them from the difficulty, except the steering. He did not notice any slackening of speed.
Dr. N.A. Macleod, of Skipton, who attended Lieut. Roscoe on his arrival at the Skipton and District Hospital, said the injuries comprised an extensive fracture of the base of the skull and a compound fracture of the right collar bone.
The evidence of Lieut. Cohen substantially corroborated that of the other officers. He agreed that the speed would be approaching 30 miles per hour and admitted that he considered it dangerous in the circumstances, but did not make a complaint. The driver was perfectly sober.
Replying to Mr. Masser, witness said the car swerved prior to the accident and he attributed this to the heavy load and the speed. It was one of these swerves which carried the car on to the grass. Witness felt no sign of the driver having slackened speed after getting near the side of the road – there was a sudden swerve to the left and the car was overturned. Witness was of opinion that, by reasonable application of the breaks, the driver might have checked the car and regained the road. He did not see the mechanic on the footboard render the driver any assistance.
Why the Mechanic Made the Journey
Wm. Howson, of Ilkley, said he was a mechanic employed by Mr. Charles Thackray of that town. He accompanied the driver of the car on the night of the accident for company. He stood on the right hand side footboard.
The Coroner: Did no one object to you going with the car? – Witness: No.
Even with this big load on? – No.
Have you ever seen so much weight on that car before? – No.
Answering further questions by the coroner, witness estimated the speed at the time of the accident at from 16 to 18 miles an hour. He formed this estimate after the accident. He did not hear anyone speak to the driver about the speed of the car, nor did he notice they were travelling on the grass. He knew, however, they got very close to the wall, because he thought once he was going to be trapped. Witness did not hear the tyre burst, and it was not until after the accident that he noticed the heap of stones on the road side. The car did not run over the stones.
Questioned by Mr. Masser, witness admitted having driven this particular car before. Although there was a little ‘play’ on the sector, the steering was good. He did not know the age of the car. It was very rarely used for hire purposes.
Mr. Masser: Why? – Witness: Because no one has come for it.
In mechanic’s parlance it is an old ‘bus? – Yes.
Not the class of car people who go to Ilkley to stay will hire? – No.
Did it not occur to you that the car was overloaded before it started? – I don’t think so.
If you get nine people in a car that holds only five you will agree it is overloaded? – Yes.
Knowing it was overloaded to the extent of three, why did you get on? – The driver wanted company back.
Did you not anticipate he would have trouble with the car? – No.
Further questioned witness admitted that a man standing in his position would have a little effect on the balance of the car, especially with a heavy and perhaps unevenly distributed load behind. He agreed that 30 miles an hour on the grass would not have been a safe speed, but it would have been all right on the open road.
The Drivers Evidence
Norman Wray, the driver of the car, was a young man. He said he was a motor mechanic and held a driver’s licence, having been employed by Mr. Thackray for nearly two years. Witness said he knew how many the car would accommodate, but made no objection to the heavy load. He estimated the speed shortly before the accident from 16 to 18 miles an hour. He did not remember running on the grass at the side of the road or hearing the tyre burst – all he felt was a drop as though a wheel had come off, and then the car swerved. At the time of the accident witness did not see the heap of stones at the side of the road. Howson accompanied witness for company, but how he came to go witness could not say. He did not consider the speed of the car dangerous, and did not hear the officers complain in that connection. He had not had an accident previously.
Answering Mr. Masser witness said the car had not been much used for passengers. The steering apparatus was good, but there was a little ‘play’ on the sector. Witness believed he heard one of the officers ask at the garage whether the car would carry the number of passengers who were for it. He answered “Yes.” He had never previously driven any distance with a passenger on the footboard as the mechanic was on this occasion. Witness did not remember the officer seated next to him saying “Be careful,” or words to that effect, as they passed a car at Addingham. Witness agreed that a speed of 30 miles an hour would, in the circumstances, have been excessive. Such a speed would probably have caused the car to sway because of the heavy load, and would have rendered it increasingly difficult for him to regain the road once he got on to the grass. The weight of the load might also account for the burst tyre by trapping on a grip at the side of the road, while a speed of 30 miles an hour would be conducive to the car swinging round as it did after the tyre burst.
Following the Walls
Mr. Masser: If you were driving at 18 miles an hour can you account for the car ever getting off the road? – Witness replied that he was following the course of the walls and mistook them.
Instead of following the course of the road you followed the line of the wall. Did it ever occur to you that the walls and the road might turn? – Yes.
Had you been going steadily you could have turned with it? – Yes.
How do you account for the fact that you do not seem to have driven slow enough to watch the course of the wall. Did you not notice that you were near the wall? – No.
Was there anything to obstruct your view? – No.
Do you remember putting your mechanic so close to the wall that he thought you were going to trap him? – No.
Witness stated that when he felt the car go down at the back he ‘throttled up’ and put on the brakes, diminishing the speed of the car.
The Foreman: What is your explanation of the accident? – Witness: Too much weight, the tyre bursting, and getting into the gutter.
The Jury, after a short absence, returned a verdict of ‘Accidental death.’ The Foreman said the jury were unanimously of the opinion that the driver of the car was deceived by his position on the road, and that the burst tyre caused the accident.
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