Young soldier dies after horse stampede

Whilst exercising horses this morning at the Luton Remount Depot, Pte Harold Clarkson (Royal Field Artillery), aged 19, of Preston, Lancs, was seized with an attack of faintness and expired before medical assistance could reach him.

The brief account in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph (June 7th, 1919) was followed by a report of the following Tuesday's inquest in The Luton News (June 12th). That revealed that the young soldier, who had no experience of horses until he joined the Army 12 months previously, died during a horse stampede at the Beech Hill Remount Depot.

Medical evidence said there was bruising on the left side between the soldier's legs. The bruises constituted a severe injury which might have been caused by being kicked by a horse or by a fall on the kerb. There was no fracture, but the soldier showed signs of heart disease and his feet were affected by rheumatism.

Sgt Major John A. Vickers, attached to the Remount Depot, said that at about 7.30 on the Saturday morning he was called to the Kingsway railway arch and saw the deceased lying on the grass at the side of the road. The young soldier was conveyed carefully in a a passing cart for medical attention at Biscot Camp.

Driver J. Ryder (R.F.A.) said that at about 6.45 on the Saturday morning he and others took horses on exercise parade. Each of them walked three horses, and deceased was just in front of him.

The horses, some of which were very big, took fright at a steam roller which was at work in the road. Witness called to the driver to ease the engine, but several horses stampeded.

Pte Clarkson clung to his horses and he, like the witness, was pulled along for about 100 yards. Deceased called him to catch his horses and then seemed to fall on his left shoulder as he let go. He seemed to fall clear of the horses, and did not appear to be kicked.

Sgt G. Fox (R.F.A.), who was in charge of the exercise parade, said about 80 horses and 24 men were involved in the usual morning exercise. It was the usual custom for each man to lead three horses.

Coroner Mr G. J. M. Whyley returned a verdict to the effect that Pte Clarkson died from heart failure accelerated by the injury caused by being kicked by a horse.