Mrs Whitwell’s DeathItwasat120,NorthRoad,thattheonlyfatalityoccurred.Mr.GeorgeWhitwell,withhiswife,MrsAgnesFrancesWhitwell,were asleepintheirroom.AbombcamethroughtheroofimmediatelyoverthebedinwhichMrs.Whitwellwassleeping,anditis probablethatshewaseitherkilledoutrightorrenderedinsensiblebythemissilestrikingher.Herhusband,GeorgeWhitwell, managedtogetoutoftheburningbuilding,anditwasatfirstthoughtthatMrs.Whitwellhadalsoescaped.Sometimelater, however,herbodywasdiscoveredbySpecialConstableDolphininacorneroftheroomunderneathaquantityofdebris.AsDr. Walkerdescribedattheinquest,thebodywaslittlemorethan“acharred,mutilatedmummy,”andtheflameshadpractically destroyedthetrunkbeyondrecognition.Mrs.Whitwellwas60yearsofage,andwasaprominentSalvationistinSouthend,having beenamemberofthelocalcorpsoftheSalvationArmyfor25years.Herhusbandisamuchrespectedman,andisemployedbythe SouthendCorporationasacarpenter.Hereceivedaterribleblowontheheadandwasalsomuchburnedabouttheneckand shoulders.HewasremovedtotheVictoriaHospitalandthoughhisconditionisundoubtedlyprecarious,heisnowprogressing favourably. Prior to his removal to the hospital he was treated by the St. John Ambulance Brigade.Inquest on Mrs WhitwellTheinquestonthebodyofMrs.AgnesFrancesWhitwell,wifeofGeorgeWhitwell,of120,NorthRoad,Southend,washeldatthe Park Hotel, Southend, on Tuesday by the Divisional Coroner (Mr. C. Edgar Lewis), Mr J. Corbett was foreman of the jury.MissAmyWhitwell,daughterofthedeceased,whoworetheuniformoftheSalvationArmy,saidsheresidedat6,JunctionRoad, Camden Town. She had viewed the body at the mortuary.The Coroner: Is that the body of your mother? - Yes, as far as I can tell.And the wife of George Whitwell? – Yes.Who is employed by the Southend Corporation as a carpenter? – Yes. What is her age, 68?- No, sixty.Crispin Whitwell, son of the deceased, who resides as 120, North Road, Prittlewell, stated he lived with his father and mother.The Coroner: When did you see your mother last alive? – On Sunday night, between 10 and 10.50.Was she then going to bed? – Yes.Which room did she occupy? – The front bedroom upstairs.With your father? – Yes.At 2.45 on Sunday morning were you asleep? – Yes.Where were you sleeping? – At the back of the house in a room above the landing.What did you hear? – I heard a noise like the rattling of slates.What did you do? – I opened the door, and all I could see was smoke.Did you hear anything more? – Yes, I heard someone calling.Who was it? – My father.Where was your father? – On the landing.What did you do? – I called to mother.Did your mother answer you? – No.Did you then go into the next house? – Yes.The Foreman: Did you hear the whistle from the Corporation yard at all? – No, I did not.WilliamDolphin,of173,NorthRoad,Prittlewell,amemberoftheSpecialReservePolice,saidabout2.55a.m.onMondayhewasin bed.The Coroner: What aroused you? –Father. He called me and I got up.Why had you been called? – Father told me there was a fire nearby.Did you go to 120, North Road? – Yes.And found it on fire? – Yes.Did you go upstairs? – Not directly. I went up after I had got the furniture out.You did go upstairs after the furniture was taken out? – Yes.What did you first find? – We found a lot of debris in the corner, and there was a body in the corner covered with debris.That was in the front bedroom? – Yes.Anywhere near the bed? – About four feet from the bed.What was the object in getting the furniture out first? – We wanted to save as much as we could.Was it known that anyone was in the house? – We were given to understand that no one was in the house.And after you removed the furniture you found the body? – Yes.Did you find anyone else? – No, sir.The Coroner (pointing to the remains of a bomb): Did you find this thing? – No, sir.A Juror (Mr. Hogsflesh): Was the Corporation whistle heard? – Yes, I heard it after I turned out.The Foreman: How long after? – Ten minutes or a quarter of an hour after. I could not tell exactly how soon.The Foreman remarked that there was considerable complaint in the town as to the sounding of the hooter.The Coroner: I do not think it is a matter for me to enquire into. That is a matter for the Corporation to ascertain.Supt.Ellis:Therewasabigrushonthetelephoneatthistime.Probablytheygavethealarmassoonastheyreceivedit.Theaircraft dropped one very near the works soon after.The Coroner enquired who found the portion of the bomb in Whitwell’s house.Inspector Clarke replied that it was picked up by a private individual and handed to P.s. Gossett, of the Special Police Reserve.P.c.BrownstatedthatthebombwashandedtoP.s.Gossettoutsidethehouse.Thatwasthefirsttimeitwasseen.ItwastakenbyP.s. Gossett to the Central Police Station.SpecialSergt.Gossett(ajuror)saidthetoppartofthebombwashandedtohimbyoneofthehelpers.Oneofthemilitaryfoundthe lower half of the bomb and handed it over to the authorities. It was found in the bedroom.TheCoronersaidasMrGossettwasamemberofthejuryhewoulddischargehimfromthejurysohecouldgiveevidence.Hewould like to have evidence where it was found.George Gossett, of 108, North Road, Prittlewell, a sergeant in the Special Police Reserve, was then called.The Coroner: Where did you see this bomb first: - It was handed to me, being the sergeant, by Mr. Jeffreys.When and where? – As soon as the fire was put out and as soon as we got into the room.Do you know where he procured it from? – From the side of the bed. It had fallen off the bed.He told you so? – Yes.Was the place on fire when you went into it first? – No, out.No one in the house when you went there? – No.AJuror:Wereyoutoldthatnoonewasinthehouse?–Thequestionwasaskedbyseveralbystandersifanyonewasinthehouse,and it was said that no one was there, and that was why the furniture was got out first.A Juror: Where was the husband? The Coroner: He was injured and taken next door.P.C.Brown,stationedatPrittlewell,saidonMonday,about4.30a.m.hevisited120,NorthRoad,Southend.Hewentintothefront bedroom and there saw a large hole in the roof caused by the entry of a bomb. The hole penetrated into the bedroom.TheCoroner:Wasthebodystillinthebedroom?–No.Thebedwasstandingwiththeheadtowardsthewall,andtherewasthehole in the roof immediately above the bed. You found the body in the adjoining room and conveyed it to the mortuary? – Yes.A Juror: The hole in the roof was immediately over the bed? – Yes.Dr.J.F.Walker,ofRoyalTerrace,Southend,saidabout5.30onMondayafternoonheviewedthebody.Itwasnothingmorethana charred mutilated mummy.The Coroner: Death was due to burning? – Yes.TheCoroner,addressingthejury,saidwiththeevidencebeforethemhethoughttheywerenowinapositiontoarriveattheirverdict. Therewasonlyonethingtheycoulddounderthecircumstances,andthatwastosaythatthedeceasedwomandiedfromburning, the result of incendiary bombs dropped from hostile aircraft.The Foreman: Can we not return a verdict of murder?TheCoroner:Idon’tthinkitwilldoanygood.IamverypleasedtosaythatDr.Hinkstellsmethatthehusbandisgettingonvery well considering, and we all hope he will make a complete recovery.The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the Coroner’s directions, and expressed sympathy with the family.