TURNER, Richard John

No.1625760, Leading Aircraftman, Richard John TURNER
Aged 19

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died in a shooting accident on Tuesday, 19th October 1943

Richard John Turner was born in Fordham on 29th September 1924, (Newmarket Q4-1924 3B:668) baptised in Fordham on 7th December 1924, son of William Frank and Lizzie TURNER (née CORNELL). His father was a miller, later a farmer. They were living at Bassingbourn Farm, Fordham at the time of his death. Tragically he was home on leave and accidentally killed when, out on a shooting party, his father tripped and his gun went off, killing Richard. The report on the local press:-

The tragedy of an accidental shot from a father's gun killing his son was revealed at a Newmarket inquest on Wednesday. Following a shoot, father and son were in a field. Hearing a pheasant the father turned. In doing so he slipped, and as the gun flew out of his hand a shot rang out. His son died shortly afterwards.
Deceased was Richard John Turner (19), younger son of Mr. William Frank Turner, of Bassingbourn Farm, Fordham. The accident occurred on Tuesday near his home. Deceased was on leave from the R.A.F., and, having passed out as a pilot was due to go abroad for training.
The inquest was held at White Lodge Hospital and was conducted by the Coroner for the Liberty of Bury St.Edmunds,(Mr.Thomas Wilson).The police were represented by Insp. D.G.Butcher (West Suffolk) and Insp.L.Unwin (Cambs).
Dr. Joan Margaret Platts, medical officer at the hospital said the deceased was admitted to hospital at 4:50 pm on Tuesday and was dead.He had multiple bullet wounds to the face, neck and back of the head. Death was due to damage to the brain, caused by bullet wounds.
Reginald Charles Brown (18) of the Greyhound, Market Street, Fordham said the deceased was a great friend of his. He knew Mr. Frank Turner had arranged a shoot for Monday.It was arranged that the witness and deceased should go over the ground on Tuesday to pick up birds. Mr. Turner joined them at 3:30 pm. Witness walked away to pick up a rabbit. They had two dogs with them, and one went into a belt of trees and put up a pheasant. Mt Turner swung round to his left to shoot the pheasant and slipped on the sugar beet. The gun fell in the opposite way to which Mr. Turner was falling and went off. Richard fell to the ground and they put him in a car and drove to the hospital.
Gerald Austin lee, of Attleborough, son on law of MR Turner, said he was with Richard and the previous witness picking up game from the shoot the day before. Later Mr. Turner joined them. He was on the opposite side of the belt to that in which the accident happened and saw nothing of it. Mr. Turner was very strict about shooting and they were all walking where Mr. Turner had told them. They were walking in formation.
William Frank Turner, a farmer, father of the deceased, said his eldest son was foreman on the farm. Richard had just passed out as a pilot in the R.A.F. and was going abroad for training. He was home on leave, and with friends they had a shot on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon a search was made of the ground and the witness joined them. A dog put up several pheasants. Witness was facing a belt waiting for the others to reach him. He heard a pheasant flutter, and in turning round he slipped on sugar beet. The gun went off and flew out of his hand. As it did so he must have touched the trigger. His son was about 10 or 12 yards away.
"This is a most tragic affair," said the Coroner when summing up, "I am quite satisfied that this was a pure accident. As a general rule and seeing what I have of gun accidents, I rather subscribe to the theory that there ought not to be gun accidents. In a great many cases the accident is due to carelessness on the part of the person handling the gun. I do not think this was so in this case. I think Mr. Turner was using and carrying the gun perfectly properly and it was the unfortunate thing that he should happen to fall as the pheasant got up that caused it."
Returning a verdict of "Misadventure", the Coroner said he realised what a terrible blow the accident was to Mr. Turner and he expressed his sympathy. He felt very much for him. In his opinion he was in now way to blame.
Insp. Butcher, for the police, and an R.A.F. officer associated themselves with the Coroner's remarks.

Thanks go to Horace Hunt (Fordham archivist) for the newspaper cuttings containing the above.

In 1939 the family were at Bassingbourn Fram, Fordham - father William F [3-11-1890] a farmer; mother Lizzie [18-6-1889] and brother Ronald F [6-9-1916] farm foreman, there is one closed record.

Richard Turner is buried in Fordham (St Peter and Mary Magdalene) Churchyard Extension

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details