war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper

Service Record Notes


Short Service.

Attestation of
No. 151075 – Spain T. E. Corps. Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers.
Thomas Edward Spain.
10, Victoria Dwellings, Dover.
Occupation – Seaman.
Next of kin Lizzie Spain, 10, Victoria Dwellings, Dover , Wife.
Particulars as to Marriage.
Lizzie Spain nee Hopkins – spinster – 16th September 1911, Dover.
10, Victoria Dwellings.
30/ Engineers 3151 (QMG 2.e)
Certified that No. 151075, Sapper T. Spain, has been raised to the “Superior” rate of Engineer pay. Rating to take action from 19/5/16.
Joined at Dover 20/3/16.
I.W.T. R.E Attested – Sapper – 20/3/1916.
Embarked Ex. Force France – 11/7/16.
Barge A.S. 177. Died of abdominal injury accident.
Telegram dispatched to
10, Victoria Dwellings Dover.
Regret to inform you Officer Commanding Highland Clearing Station, France reports yesterday 151075 T. E. Spain Royal Engineers suffering from abdominal injury (accidental) expected to be fatal in a few hours, and regret permission to visit cannot be granted.
Colonel in Charge, Royal Engineers Records.
Brompton Barracks.
Telegram Dispatched to
Victoria Dwellings Dover.
Regret to inform you Officer Commanding Highland Clearing Station reports 2nd November No. 151075 Spain Royal Engineers died 31st October.
Colonel in Charge, Record Office.
Date of accident – 31st October 1916.
Time of accident – 11.45. a.m.
Place - Guarlinghem Bridge.
Nature of accident – Falling overboard from A. S. 177 and being ------(?)
Evidence of No. 105936, Corporal G. Radley. A.S. 177.
At 11.45 a.m. on the 31st October, on entering Guarlinghem Bridge, I had the engines stopped. The boat gave a sliding blow on the starboard guide to the bridge. Sapper Spain was standing with his front to the port side of the boat, when the boat gave a slight lurch, and he fell overboard. I left the tiller and went to his assistance, The Bridge keeper at Guarlinghem and myself pulled him out of the water. He was semi conscious and I noticed he was bleeding freely, and he had, in my opinion, jammed between the masonry and the boat, I left him in charge of L/Corp. and the Bridge Keeper, and straightaway went to the District Office at Aire and reported the matter. On returning from the office I called at Hospital Burge 367, where Spain was being attended to, and I saw him taken away in an ambulance.
Question ; What boots was he wearing?
Answer; Rubber boots.
Evidence of No. 15693, Sapper W. Pouting (?) A.S. 177.
At about 11. 45 a.m. on the 31st October on entering Guarlinghem Bridge, I was on the starboard with my back towards Spain; I heard the Corporal shout and saw him leave the ship. I then went aft and took the tiller; I then called the engineers up.
Question: At the time you run along to take the tiller, had the barge much way on her?
 Answer; No Sir, the engines were stopped before we entered the bridge.
Question: Did the barge have much way on her?
Answer; Fairly, She was not altogether brought up as a gust of wind blew her on.
Evidence of Corporal T. E Sobey, No. 15699. A.S. 177.
At about 11-45 a.m. on October 31st Sapper Bunting called down to me that there was a man overboard, I went on board and assisted to put the barge by the side, and ran to the Corporals assistance. The Corporal then went of to the officer to report the matter. The mail boat “Lion” then came along and we placed Spain in the launch, and he was taken to Hospital Barge 367.
Question; When you were entering the bridge, were the engines stopped?
Answer; Yes Sir.
 Question; Did you feel any serious jars
Answer; No Sir, just a very slight bump.
Evidence of No. 156847 Sapper C. E. Ford. A.S. 177.
At about 11. 45. a.m. on October 31st, I was in the far end of the engine room on A.S. 177. I saw Lance Corporal Sobey go on deck, and as he did not come back, I went up to see what was the matter. At this time we were about 50 yards below the bridge, I saw some people on the bridge and ran back to see what was wrong. Spain was then out the water and lying on the dock side. I hailed the Motor Boat “Lion” which was approaching and Spain was put on board.
Question: On entering Guarlinghem Bridge were your engines stopped?
Answer: Yes Sir.
Question: Did you feel a severe bump?
Answer; No only a slight bump.
Evidence of French Bridge Keeper at Guarlinghem.
This morning (31st October) at half past eleven the English boat No. 177, was going towards St. Omar from Aire, when owing to a high wind, it violently struck the stockade of the Guarlinghem Bridge on the right hand side, the man who prepared to make use of the fender was thrown into the water, and was crushed by the bow of the boat against the Quay on the right hand side. At the moment I was standing next to the bridge, I ran to the rescue, but could do no better than drag the injured man out of the water with the assistance of his Corporal.
Question; Was the boat going fast when the accident happened?
Answer: No.
Question; Did the shock cause the boat to swerve violently?
Answer: No.
Finding of the Court.
This Court of Enquiry is of the opinion that No. 151075 Sapper T. Spain, R.E. I.W.T. met with his death whilst in the execution of his duties, through no neglect of his own. The Court is of the opinion that Corporal Radley is in no way to blame for this accident.

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