Killed by mortar at practice


June 15, 1943
Struck on the head by a two-inch mortar smoke-bomb during battle practice with live ammunition at a training ground in the Home Counties, Guardsman Allan Thornley, aged 19, whose home is at 109, Asser Road, West Derby, Liverpool, died four hours later in hospital from laceration of the brain due to a compound fracture of the skull.

At the inquest at Uxbridge, Lance Corporal J. Sutherland, who was firing the mortar, said he had fired seven shots, and watched the flight of each of them. They had passed over the heads of the men in the direction of the cliff face.

When he fired the eight, there seemed to be a louder explosion than the others; the mortar jumped back and struck him in the chest and he could not follow the flight of the bomb. He had been on the mortar two years, and nothing of the kind had happened before.

There were three possible causes of the mishap. One was that the mortar shifted from its bed, which, he afterwards discovered, was an ant-hill; two, that the elevating pin might have slipped; three, that the bomb might have been faulty.

Police-inspector White said the mortar had been on a position about 4ft above the rest of the ground, which was loose, though the surrounding ground was chalky and firm. Thornley had been about sixty-four yards from the mortar.

Recording a verdict of “Accidental death,” Dr. Gorski, deputy-coroner, said he was satisfied it was a pure accident under active service conditions.
(Liverpool Daily Post: June 15, 1943)

Allan Thornley, Liverpool F.C. (Liverpool Echo: June 18, 1943)

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