Born: 15th July 1924, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Died: 30th March 1941; age: 16; at the East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich of shock following a gun shot wound of the upper abdomen and chest owing to the accidental firing of a rifle – Misadventure.
Inquest held 2nd April 1941.
Residence: 1, Ransome Crescent, Ipswich.
Employed: as a Butcher’s Errand Boy.
Regiment: 9th Suffolk Battalion, Home Guard (Ipswich).
Father: Reginald George Hughes, born June 1897, Hemley, Suffolk. A Builder’s Labourer.
Mother: Gertrude Maud Hughes (nee Blowers), born November 1899, Ipswich.
Nephew to FREDERICK JOHN HUGHES.
ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939.
Basil was a Boxmaker. He was living with his parents & siblings at their family home – 1, Ransome Crescent, Ipswich.
Reginald, a Bricklayer’s Labourer.
Gertrude, a Housewife.
Vera Winifred Hughes, born 1923, Ipswich.
Daphne May Hughes, born 1926, Ipswich.
Velma R. Hughes, born 1928, Ipswich.
Hilda V. M. Hughes, born 1931, Ipswich.
Grace E. Hughes, born 1933, Ipswich.
Raymond G. Hughes, born 1935, Ipswich.
Ruby L.D. Hughes, born April 1937, Ipswich.
SUFFOLK CHRONICLE AND MERCURY – 4th April 1941.
YOUNG HOME GUARD SHOT – Disobeyed order leads to tragedy.
Ipswich Jury’s Rider
How a youthful member of the Home Guard was fatally shot while he and two other lads were on duty, was related to the Deputy Ipswich Borough Coroner (Mr. L.H. Vulliamy) on Wednesday, when he held an inquest on Basil George Hughes, aged 16 years and nine months, a butcher’s errand boy, of Ransome Crescent, Ipswich. The Coroner sat with a jury, of which Mr. Stanley Fulcher was foreman.
Dr. L.B. Scott, House Surgeon at the East Suffolk and Ipswich hospital, said that Hughes was admitted in a critical condition, and died four and a half hours later from shock following a wound to the upper abdomen and chest.
Raymond Adrian Josselyn, aged 17, of Harland Street, a member of the Home Guard, said their orders were not to load their rifles with live ammunition except on the instructions of an officer or N.C.O. On Saturday night, whilst witness, Hughes and another lad named Girling were on fire guard, Girling spoke about putting some ammunition in his rifle, and witness told him not to do so as it was against orders. About an hour later, when witness was making his bed and the others were preparing to have a look round the building, he heard a loud report and saw Girling with his rifle in his hands and Hughes falling on the floor.
Answering the Foreman, Josselyn said there was no N.C.O. or other officer on duty.
P.-c. Albert Light said Girling made a statement to him in which he said that about 11:45p.m. they all agreed to have a look round, said he put a clip of five rounds in his rifle. He closed the bolt and the rifle went off.
William Stanley Pearson, commanding officer of a Home Guard Company of which the lads were members, said that instructions had been issued on innumerable occasions that live ammunition was not to be loaded into rifles, or even taken out of pouches, without an order from an officer or N.C.O. Although Home Guardsmen were issued with ammunition which they carried whilst on duty, it was only for use in an emergency. The men on duty had had instruction in the use of rifles.
In reply to a question, witness said that 17 was the age of for joining the Home Guard. Hughes enrollment form stated that he was born in February, 1924, and according to that he was over 17. They would be detailed for fire guard duty by the Section Sergeant, apparently without consideration to their ages.
Victor Alexander Girling, of 8, Ransome Crescent, said that Hughes was his pal, and they had joined the Home Guard together about two months ago. He had had instruction in the use of a rifle. He agreed that they had been instructed to load a rifle with live ammunition only on orders of an N.C.O.
Continuing, Girling said they were all alone in the building, and he thought he heard someone moving in one of the rooms. He suggested they should have a look round, and put five rounds in the magazine of his rifle, thinking that if there was someone outside he could frighten him. He closed the bolt but did not turn it far enough and therefore could not apply the safety catch. He did not know at the time that it was not in the safety position. Describing the tragedy, Girling said that everything happened so quickly – he did not know whether his finger caught in the trigger or not.
“CORONER AND “APPALLING CONSEQUENCE”
Addressing the jury, the Coroner remarked that Girling had given his evidence quite fairly. He knew it was contrary to orders to load his rifle with live ammunition, but notwithstanding that he deliberately decided to do so with the appalling consequence that his friend lost his life. The Coroner added that there was no evidence of a degree of carelessness amounting to manslaughter.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and added a rider suggesting that some responsible person, not necessarily an N.C.O., should be in charge when youthful members of the Home Guard were detailed for duties.