Main CPGW Record
Forename(s): John Rowland
Place of Birth: Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland
Service No: ---
Regiment / Corps / Service: Royal Army Medical Corps
Battalion / Unit: 19th Coy (Whalley) Queen Mary's Military Hospital
Date of Death: 1920-02-22
CWGC Grave / Memorial Reference: 163.
CWGC Cemetery: WHALLEY (QUEEN MARY’S HOSPITAL) MILITARY CEMETERY
CWGC Memorial: ---
Non-CWGC Burial: ---
Local War Memorial(s): Not Listed (View Names Not Listed on a Local War Memorial)
John Rowland Foster (born Rath Cottage, Ballybarrack, Dundalk, 9 May 1880) was the son of John Rowland and Anna Amelia Foster, née Dunning. John, senior, was born in Ireland and Anna at Newry, Co. Down, Ireland.
1891 London Census: Vereker Road - John R. Foster, aged 10 years, born Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland, son of John R. and Anna A. Foster.
1901 London Census: 20, Sinclair Gardens - John R. Foster, aged 20 years, born Ireland, son of John R. and Annie A. Foster. Medical Student.
John was married to Victoria Mildred Beveridge (born Hong Kong, China, c. 1875) in 1907. In the 1911 Census Victoria and her son, Rowland Henry Foster, were living at The Nest, Silver Road, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex; John was not present.
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards: Maj John Rowland Foster, Royal Army Medical Corps. Disembarkation date: 17 August 1914. Correspondence: Queen Mary's Hospital, Whalley, Lancs. & Marine Cottage, Charles Street, Herne Bay.
Data Source: Craven Herald Article
Entry in West Yorkshire Pioneer Illustrated War Record: ---
Soldiers Died Data for Soldier Records
Surname: No entry in SDGW.
Theatre of War:
CWGC Data for Soldier Records
Forename(s): John Rowland
Country of Service: United Kingdom
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps
Unit: 19th Coy. (Whalley)., Queen Mary's Military Hosp.
Died Date: 22/02/1920
Additional Information: Husband of V. M. Foster, of Marine Cottage, Charles St., Herne Bay, Kent.
View Additional Text For Soldier Records
‘Clitheroe Times’ (February 1920)
(Kindly supplied by Shirley Penman of Clitheroe and Dorothy Falshaw of Gisburn)
MAJOR’S TRAGIC DEATH AT WHALLEY
DROPPED DEAD AND BODY MUTILATED BY MOTOR CAR
CHAUFFEUR’S GRUESOME SUNDAY EVENING DISCOVERY
OFFICER’S BELIEF THAT HE MIGHT DROP DEAD ANY MINUTE
The gruesome discovery by the driver of a motor car that he has run over and severely mutilated the body of a military officer caused a painful sensation throughout the Whalley district on Sunday night and the feeling of horror which greeted the news was emphasised when it became known that the deceased officer was Major John Roland Foster, R.A.M.C., who for some months, whilst taking duty at Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, had resided at “Fern Lea,” in Clitheroe-road, Whalley.
The facts of the tragedy may here briefly stated. About ten minutes to nine on Sunday night, Mr A.W. Kenyon, of the Dog and Partridge Hotel, Barrow, was driving his taxi towards Whalley, when near the corner at Wiswell Lane end, he noticed an object, which appeared to him to be a sack or a piece of brown paper, lying in the road. He made an attempt to avoid the object, turning his car almost into the wall, but the rear right wheel of the vehicle passed over the object. Mr Kenyon, who is a well-known member of the Barrow cricket team, at once pulled up the car and running back was amazed and distressed to find that he had run over the body of Major Foster. The officer was then apparently dead. Dr. Postlethwaite and the Police were summoned and the body was removed to Major Foster’s home which was distant only a few yards from the scene of the tragedy. At the inquest on Wednesday, the jury came to the conclusion that the death had taken place before the car passed over the body and a verdict of “Death from natural causes” was returned.
Although Major Foster had been in Whalley only a few months, he was well-known and generally liked for his geniality, which he displayed on every occasion. He had a war record of considerable distinction. A native of Ireland, he joined the R.A.M.C. on leaving college in 1906 and he served throughout the war. He went to France with one of the first batches of troops and was in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat. Later in the war, he was transferred to Italy and the contracted malignant malaria. On recovery he was sent to North Russia, and the disease recurring, Major Foster was invalided to Whalley last July. Prior to the war he served for five years in India. The deceased officer was thirty-eight years of age, was married and had one child.
The interment took place with full military honours at the cemetery attached to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, the chaplain performing the last rites.
VERDICT OF “DEATH FROM NATURAL CAUSES”
An exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances of Major Foster’s death was conducted by the East Lancashire Coroner (Mr. D.N. Haslewood) at the Wesleyan School, Whalley, on Wednesday morning. The foreman of the jury was Mr. J.H. Clegg. Mr J.H. Ramsbottom watched the proceedings on behalf of Arthur Wallace Kenyon, the driver of the car which ran over deceased’s body. Prior to opening the inquest, the Coroner viewed the scene of the accident.
Colonel H.N. Foster, of the R.A.M.C., Aldershot, brother of deceased, gave evidence of identification and stated deceased was 38 years of age.
Herbert Rawcliffe, chauffeur, of 2, Queen-street, Whalley, stated that at 8.15 p.m. on Sunday, he picked deceased up in his motor car, in King Street, Whalley, and Major Foster alighted near Stanley House, about fifty-yards from his home. Deceased told him to book the fare to his account and then walked away towards home.
The Coroner: Was he sober? – Practically.
Was he, or was he not sober? – No he was not.
Was he capable of looking after himself? – Yes.
Did he stagger as he walked? – No.
Had you any hesitation in leaving him on his own to get home? –No.
It was his habit to get out of the car before he reached his own house? – Yes.
You never saw him afterwards? – No, I drove back.
Arthur Wallace Kenyon, motor driver, of the Dog and Partridge Hotel, Barrow, stated that at 8.15 on Sunday night he was driving his motor car along Clitheroe-road towards Whalley at from eight to ten miles an hour. He had the usual headlights. When opposite “Mayfield” he saw an object lying in the middle of the road and he at first took it to be a sack or some brown paper. He was close upon the object when he noticed it and did his best to avoid running over it, turning the car almost into the wall on his own side, the left-hand side. The back right wheel of the car ran over the object and he at once applied the brakes and stopped the car in from five to six yards. He got down, went to the object and found it was the body of the deceased. He felt at his hand and came to the conclusion he was cold.
Was his head badly crushed? – No.
Was the face covered with blood? –It was inside the overcoat and the inside of the coat was covered in blood.
The Coroner: This is rather different from the statement given to me, the statement prepared by the Police. To them you apparently said you examined him and found he was quite warm, that his head was badly crushed, and that his face was covered in blood.
Witness: The police did not come for some minutes. I am speaking of what I did, not what they did.
The Coroner: This is supposed to be your evidence.
P.C. Thompson: I obtained his statement and that is what he told me.
The Coroner: Did you tell the police that the body was quite warm and that deceased appeared to be quite dead?
Witness: I told the police that his head was covered up.
The Coroner: But it really does not matter what you told the police. It is a question of what you say now. You say his head was covered up – do you adhere to that?
The Coroner: And you unbuttoned his overcoat? – Yes.
And found some blood inside? – Yes.
Was there any on his face? – On the top of his head and his left ear.
At this stage the Coroner pointed out that the evidence might be painful to the widow, adding that she and another lady might leave if they desired.
Mrs. Foster said she would rather stay.
Witness said Major Foster appeared to be quite dead. Dr. Postlethwaite and the Police were at once informed and he remained with the body until it was removed to the house.
The Coroner: You would be the first person to see the deceased after the car went over him? –Yes.
The Coroner: Would you like to give the jury any opinion – if you have formed one – as to whether he was dead before the car passed over the body?
Witness: When I got back to the object and found it was a man, I formed an opinion. When I came to think things over, there was not a murmur – not an Oh! – when the car went over him and he never breathed. He seemed absolutely dead when I ran back and a man cannot die in that time.
The Coroner: You formed the opinion that he was dead before the car ran over him? – Yes.
That is your candid opinion? – Yes.
Where you ran over deceased there is a bend in the road? – Yes.
And on account of that your headlight would not be shinning in front? – No they point towards the corner.
That is plain to anyone. As a result is the middle of the road in darkness by contrast? – Yes, and it was a very dark night.
As a matter of fact, your carrying of lights would make the middle of the road more dark? – Yes.
A juryman (Mr J. Lambert): Where was the deceased cap?
Witness, besides his head, just as it had fallen off.
Mr. Lambert: In what position was he – on his side or back?
Witness indicated the position by lying upon his stomach on the floor, with arms above the head which was on one side.
The foreman (Mr J. H Clegg): Was there any sign of movement?
Joseph Baxendale, cotton weaver, 1, Straight-lane, Read, stated that he and a lady friend were walking along the footpath near the scene at the time of the accident. They were walking towards Whalley where a motor car, fully equipped with lights, over-took them. It was travelling at about eight or ten miles an hour. As the car came opposite him he noticed something lying in the road and the car passed over it, but he could not say with which wheel.
The Coroner: Did the driver swerve the car?
Witness: I could not say – it happened too quickly.
The car was pulled up: – Yes in about a dozen yards.
The driver went to the object and you also went? – Yes.
Did you examine the body? – No.
Did you see any blood? – No.
Did the driver examine the body? – Yes.
Did he unbutton the overcoat? – I do not know.
Did you see any blood about the head? – No, I didn’t.
He appeared to be dead? – I could not say.
You could not give any opinion as to whether he was lying dead in the road or not? – No.
Can you say whether in your opinion the driver did his best to avoid the object? – Yes.
Do you think that in any way he could be blamed for running over it? – No.
Was it dark? – Very dark.
Mr Lambert: In what direction was he lying? – He was cross ways on the road.
Mr Lambert: Was the lamp at Wiswell Lane end lit? – I could not say.
By P.S. Chiney: The lamp was not lighted.
P.C Thompson stated that at 9 p.m. he was in King-street, Whalley, when he received information of the accident and went to a spot near “Mayfield.” Major Foster was lying on his back, his head being badly crushed. Life was extinct when he arrived. He had measured the road and found it to be nine yards wide, deceased’s head being four yards from the left-hand side of the road (from the Clitheroe side). Along with P.S. Chiney, witness examined the car and found no marks of blood on the wheels.
The Coroner: Can you sat whether the car had been swerved? – No, the car was in a straight position when I arrived.
Was there any wheel marks? – No, the road is paved.
Major Archibald Craig Amy (M.D., Glasgow), of the R.A.M.C., at present stationed at Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, stated that deceased was one of the officers working under him in the medical division of the hospital. Major Foster was suffering from post malaral debility and disordered action of the heart. The pulse rate at rest was 120 and there was doubtful valvular disease of the heart – the last Medical Board he had was unable definitely to state whether there actually was the valvular disease or not. Major Foster’s category was “C” and he was due for another medical board very shortly.
The Coroner: Can you say to the jury whether or not he would be liable to fall down dead.
Witness: I think he was quite liable to fall down, but I cannot say definitely he would fall down dead, on account of the fact that at the last Board it was not definitely ascertained that he had Valvular Disease of the Heart. He was liable to fall down in a faint.
The Coroner: I have had a great number of inquests and I have heard doctors say “Oh, yes! I have told the relatives that he was liable to fall down dead at any moment.”
Witness: That was his own opinion. I have heard him say so and it is quite in agreement with the medical facts.
It is a common thing for that to be said. You do not tell patients but doctors do say that certain people are liable to fall dead at any moment? – That is so.
Would you say that of the deceased? – I should say that would be in keeping with the physical examination of the deceased at his last board. It is quite a possibility.
A post-mortem examination would reveal whether he had valvular disease of the heart. Would it enable you or anybody else making the examination to come to a definite conclusion as to what was the actual cause of death. The point to decide is whether deceased was dead when he was lying in the road, or whether he was killed by the motor car. Would a post mortem examination reveal any more than whether deceased was suffering from valvular disease of the heart? – I think it is unlikely he would find more than we have already found in the physical examination when he was alive.
There would be no object in having a post-mortem examination? – I don’t think so. Disordered action of the heart produces symptoms in life of which there would be very few signs when it came to a post-mortem examination.
Dr. Postlethwaite stated that about 9 p.m. on Sunday he was called to the body of the deceased, which was lying in the road near “Mayfield.” Deceased’s skull was fractured, his left ear was almost torn off, and the right arm was badly fractured.
The Coroner: Was the body cold or warm? – The hands were quite cold.
Was there much blood? – No, very little. There was hardly any, either on the road or on the body.
The injuries he had sustained were quite sufficient to cause his death? – Yes.
The Coroner: From the fact that the hands were cold and that there was little blood about have you formed any opinion as to whether the probability is that he had fallen in the road and died before he was run over?
Witness: I think it most likely that death had taken place before the body was run over. The hands and feet were cold and the body was nearly cold.
The Coroner: In a post-mortem examination would you expect to find anything which would enable you to come to a definite conclusion as to whether death took place before the body was run over or after?
Witness: I do not think a post-mortem examination would serve any useful purpose at all.
It would show whether he had valvular disease of the heart? – That is what it would show.
P.S. Chiney: The doctor arrived at three minutes past nine and it was ten minutes to nine when the accident happened. If there was life when the car struck the body would it be possible for it to go cold in that time?
Witness: It would not be possible. The man simply said to me that it was a R.A.M.C. man and that is why I telephoned for Hospital ambulance van. I went straight away to the scene of the accident and the body could not possibly have gone cold by the time I reached it, if death was caused by the car running over it.
Mr. Clegg asked Major Amy as to the deceased officer’s service.
Major Amy stated that Major Foster contracted malignant malaria whilst in Italy and was invalided home. When he got better he was sent to North Russia, where there was a recurrence of the disease, as a result of which he was again invalided.
Mr. Clegg: I wanted to know whether his illness was in connection with his foreign service.
Major Amy: Yes, it was.
The Coroner said he could carry the matter no further. They had had a most exhaustive enquiry and he had placed before the jury all the evidence he could hear and it was for them to say definitely whether or not in their opinion the cause death was the accident or natural. “I think you will have to say definitely whether you come to the conclusion that he was lying dead in the road when the motor ran over him or that he was lying in the road and being run over sustained such injuries as caused his death. In the former case, the verdict will be one of “Death from natural causes” and in the other the verdict will have to be “Accidental Death.” You ought to take into consideration the question of adjourning the enquiry for the purpose of holding a port-mortem examination, bur at the same time you will bear in mind what the doctors have told you that such examination would only reveal whether or not deceased suffered from valvular disease of the heart and would not enable you to say whether death took place before or after the car had passed over the body.”
After a short consultation with his colleagues the foreman announced that they had agreed upon a verdict of “Death from natural causes,” they having come to the conclusion that Major Foster had fallen in the road and died immediately.
The jury desired to express their deep sympathy with Mrs. Foster and members of the bereaved family.
View Craven Herald Articles
27 February 1920
WHALLEY – MILITARY DOCTOR’S SAD FATE
A verdict of “Death from natural causes” was returned by the jury at an inquest at Whalley on Wednesday concerning the death of Major J. R. Foster, R.A.M.C., a doctor at Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley.
Evidence was given that a motor driver failed to avoid “an object like a sack or brown paper” lying in the road at a dark corner on Clitheroe Road. He found that he had run over the body of Major Foster, who was lying within a few yards of his house.
A doctor who examined the body a few minutes after it had been run over, formed the opinion that death occurred from natural causes, and Major Amy, R.A.M.C., under whom Major Foster had worked, declared that the latter held that he was liable to drop dead at any minute.
Major Foster, who served in the retreat from Mons and also in Italy and North Russia, was invalided with malignant malaria, and suffered from disorganised action of the heart and possibly from valvular disease.
The jury unanimously came to the conclusion that Major Foster was dead when the car, which fractured his skull, passed over him.
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