The following is a transcription of a document recording the observations of witnesses to the motorcycle accident which caused Cpl. Herbert E. Shill's death.
Army Form A.2.
PROCEEDINGS of a Court of Inquiry
assembled at Barlin
on the 4th day of October 1917
by order of G.O.C. 1st Canadian Division (A.Q. 8-3-25)
for the purpose of Inquiring into the circumstances
under which No. 25637 Cpl. H.E. Shill
1st Canadian Division Signal Company
was fatally injured.
CAPT. W. MCINTOSH
IST CAN. DIV. SIG. CO.
LIEUT T. JENKINS
1ST CAN. DIV. TRAIN.
LIEUT E.G. WEEKS
1ST CAN. DIV. SIG. CO.
The Court having assembled pursuant to order, proceed to examine the first witness.
1st witness Lieut. H.G. Morrow 4th Can. Inf. Bn. states: -
At. 4.00 pm 21st Sept, I was sitting beside Pte. H.M. Mathews on truck No. 26918 near K19 b 5.1 (sheet 36h). A motor cyclist was coming from the opposite direction in a cloud of dust. The driver of the truck signalled he was going to turn to the left. The cyclist appeared to lose control of his machine as he crossed the road to his left, and then turned back crashing into the side of the truck.
I bandaged up the cyclist and put him in an ambulance going to #6 C.C.S. Barlin.
By the Court
There was a truck a lorry length ahead of truck no. 26918 which was already turning into the side road. There was a truck behind 26918.
The motor cyclist came from behind a horse ambulance and was not more than fifty yards away when I first saw him.
There was considerable automobile traffic and a lot of dust.
H. G. Morrow Lt.
2nd witness no. xxxxx Pte. H.M. Mathews
I was driving Lorry No 26918 on Sept. 21st, 1917. About 4pm I was travelling from BARLIN to Foss 6 via RUITZ. At the cross roads K19 b 5.1 it is necessary to turn to the left. I made a signal and had commenced to turn to the left when I saw a motor cyclist come from behind a light car proceeding in the direction of BARLIN. The motor cyclist went over to his left hand side of the road as though intending to pass behind me, which I think he could have done. He then swung over to his right and again to his left, striking the lorry, the front wheels of which were across the RUITZ road.
By the court
There was a lot of dust. The motor cyclist was about 50 yds from the lorry when he passed the light car. At this time I was making the turn to the left.
There was a lorry going to RUITZ ahead of me. This lorry was well down the RUITZ road before I commenced to turn. I cannot say how far ahead.
I cannot say whether I asked LT. MORROW to hold out his left hand as a signal that I was turning to the left. I was travelling about 7 M.P.H.
I did not sound my horn.
The cyclist appeared to have lost control of his machine.
L/cpl McDonald J.W. H.M. Mathews Pte.
Can. Corps. Supply Col.
I was riding at the back of the lorry and cannot say how the accident occurred. The speed of the lorry was about 5 M.P.H. The roads were very dusty.
J.W. McDonald L/cpl no.xxxxx
Dr. Laidman G.H.R.
Can. Corps. Supply Col.
I know nothing, except that the lorry was suddenly stopped at the cross roads K19 b 5.1. I jumped down and found that a motorcyclist of the 1st Can. Div. Sig. Co. had run into the lorry. He appeared to be badly injured and was placed on a horse ambulance which was passing at the time. The roads were very dusty.
Second Witness Pte H.M. Mathews recalled later
The motor cyclist did not swerve more than three feet to the right or left.
H.M. Mathews Pte.
The opinion of the court is that the collision between #25637 Cpl. H.E. Shill and lorry no. 29618 was an accident, due to the dust preventing #25637 Cpl. H.E. Shill from seeing that the lorry was moving across the road. The court is of the opinion that no blame attached to anyone.
W. McIntosh Capt.
1st Cdn Div. Signalls
Thos. Jenkins Lieut.
1st Can. Div. Train.
E.G. Weeks Lt.
1st Can Div. Sig. Co.