Samuel Hussleby Garrett was a Territorial soldier who was billetted in Chelmsford during the early part of the war, having enlisted at Coventry. He drowned in the River Chelmer near Barnes Mill in July 1915. He was 17 years old.
Albert was born in 1898 at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore in Warwickshire, the son of George Garrett and Eliza Garrett (nee Hussleby). His parents had married in the summer of 1891.
In 1901 the census recorded him, aged two, with his parents, six siblings and an aunt at Coppenhall Monks in Warwickshire. A decade later he was found by the 1911 census aged 13 and living with his widowed father and six siblings at 18 Broomfield Road in Coventry. His rather was then a railway engine driver.
During the war he served as Private 3065 in the 7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, having enlisted at Coventry.
In the early part of the war he was one of a large number of troops billetted in the Chelmsford area - in his case he was billetted at 16 Arbour Lane in Springfield.
He died, aged 17, on 15th July 1915, through drowning in the River Chelmer (Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation) near Barnes Mill in Springfield. A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"SOLDIER DROWNED AT CHELMSFORD. COMBADES' PLUCKY EFFORTS
A sad drowning occurred iu the Chelmer Navigation near Chelmsford yesterday afternoon. The victim was Signaller S. H. Garrett, 2/7th Royal Warwick Territorials, who was billeted at 16 Arbour Lane, Springfield.
He and two comrades comrades went to bathe at a spot near Barnes Mill, which is much used by swimmers. The other two had their swim, but Ihe decufcsed. who was not a very proficient swimmer, was having another journey across the water, when he got into difficulties and called for help. His mates went to his assistance, and the drowning man pulled one of them under, so exhausting him that had some difficulty in getting out himself. The other failed in his piucky attempt at rescue.
Help was soon forhcoming from the mill and Mt. Nicholls recovered the body by the aid of drags. P.s. Wood, who had been sent for resorted to artiflnciai respiration, and Dr. H. W. Newton, who arrived sortly afterwards, continued the exercise, but life was extinct. The body was removed to the mortuary on a motor to await an inquest.
The deceased, who was about 20 years of age, was an efficient soldier. He joined the force at Coventry a few months alter the outbreak oi war. In civilian life he was a clerk. His two companions who made such a gallant attempt at rescue were Pts. Burrows and Overton, and it was the latter who nearly lost hie life. Burrows was likewise almost exhausted. Both afterwards rendered every aid.
GARRETT, SAMUEL HUSSLEBY*,
Private, B Company, 2/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
The inquest, was heid at the Cedar Teauperance Hotel this (Friday) afternoon, beiore the Deputy Coronor, Mtr. J. L. Quinnell
Capt. Alec Q. P. Fayerman, commanding B Co. 2/7th Royal Warwicks, said deceased was a native Coventry.
Signalman Arthur Burrows said he, the deceased, and Signalman E. H. Overton went for a bathe about one o'clock. Wanness could swim a little, about 50 yards. Overton was a better swimmer, but the deceased could only swim a few yards. After being in the water about 20 minutes witness came out and asked the deceased to get out. He replied he wouid in a few miuutes. Deceased then tried get across, and when the middle stream shouted, "I'm in a hole."
Overton, who was about six yards away, at once went to the deceased's heip, and was dragged under, the deceased taking hold of him by the neck. Witness then went in, and Overton, exhausted, went the bank. Witness caught hoid the arm the deceased and tried to touch the bottom. Going in up to his eyes, witness got into diifficulties and had to go out. Witness went for help, and. Mr.Marriage went in and tried to recover the deceased, but failed. Deceased was quite well before bathing. They had not had their dinner then, They had all bathed there before.
Signalman Overton said was about to get oat when the deceased called. He went to his assistance, and when he was dragged under had to releas his hold and go to the bank. When Burrows went for help witness again went to the deceased, and caught hold of him by the shoulder, but deceased was tihen under the water against the weeds, and witness, was weakened by his previous effort, could rot move him, and swam out.
Mr. Reginald Marriage said hw was told of someone was drowning, so went to the river, jumped in, and found the body at the bottom of the river. He moved the body about a yard, but it then dropped, and he was unable find it again, When the body was recovered every effort was made restore animation.
The Coroner: ls this dangerous place? Witness: No, not for swimmers, but if a non-swimmer gets out of his depth it is dangerous for him.
The Coroner: I believe you and the others did the right thing and a brave thing, and unfortunately it was not successful
Witness added, in reply to jurors, that there was bathing going on there every day, There was about 6ft. or 6ft. 6im cf water. The weods were thin and wouid not be dangerous.
Dr. Newton said that when he arrived there was no sign animation vitality. Artificial respiration was being periormed, and he administred two injections, but was not the slightest sign from the heart, The doctor added that in the interests and safety of the military something should be done. If the weeds were cut it would enable anyone see a body. There had been five cases of drowning in different parts the neighbourhood.
The Coroner said it was a very sad case, and suggested that the jury should consider if anything could done to make swimmiing more safe. The weeds this case were only an impediment.
The jury found a verdict of Accidental death, and suggested that Navigation Co. should put up notices at spotswhere bathing would be safe for non-swimmers.
Samuel was buried at Coventry (London Road) Cemetery om grave 183.92.