Vernon Leroy Stoddart signatureOn this day in 1918, Vernon Leroy Stoddart died in Belleville General Hospital of a gunshot wound. Stoddart was born in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia on October 16th, 1893, the son of Lemuel Stoddart and Lillian (née Hunt). In 1911 he was working as a bank clerk.

CABHC: HC06291 Belleville General Hospital in 1914

CABHC: HC06291 Belleville General Hospital in 1914

Stoddart joined the Royal Flying Corps in Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 10th, 1917. His regimental number was 153661 and he was five feet nine inches tall. He was officially accepted into the Corps in Toronto on December 17th. Just a month later, he was killed in a rifle accident while training at Camp Mohawk, aged 24.

On January 18th, the Intelligencer newspaper reported on the inquest in the following way:

CADET STODDART WAS

SHOT BY COMRADE

Shooting Affray at Camp Mohawk Being Investigated – Cadet Moore Fired a Bullet From Gun, When it Was Supposed to be a Blank Cartridge

At Thompson Company’s undertaking parlors in this city last evening. an Inquest was opened before Coroner Dr. Boyce to enquire into the circumstances regarding the tragic death of Flight Cadet Vernon Stoddart. of Camp Mohawk, who died at the hospital here yesterday as the result of a gun-shot wound.

The Jury was composed of Messrs. E. T. Cherry, foreman; Geo Daw, T. F. Wills, Geo. T Woodley, W. A. Woodley, R Zufelt, A Blackburn and C. M. Hall.

Mr. Wm. Carnew. County Attorney, represented the crown in the matter

After the Jury had been sworn in they viewed the body and were shown the wound which had evidently caused death.

Police Officer Sergt. Naphan testified as to the summoning the Jury and that all were qualified to act.

Dr. Tennett gave evidence as to the nature of the wound which had no doubt caused death. He also testified as to deceased being brought to the Belleville hospital from Mohawk Camp to be attended to. Death occurred on Thursday morning about 7 o’clock.

Cadet Alfred Stewart Hunt, a cousin of deceased, testified that he recognised the remains as those of Cadet Vernon Stoddart, whose home was at Lawrencetown. Annapolis County. Nova Scotia, and was a son of Mr. Lemuel H Stoddart. Hunt then gave an explanation as to how deceased came to be shot. He occupied Room 1 of No. 2 Cadet wing. R.F.C. at Camp Mohawk, which was a large sleeping room where some 22 sleep. Considerable time was spent In the room by the cadets. He had heard of no grievances between deceased and Cadet Moore who fired off the gun which caused Stoddart’s death. At about 2.45 or 3 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon. 16th inst., Cadet W. G. Moore, who is a boxer by profession, and had been relieved from all drill on account of some engagements Moore told witness that he was in the club room and picked up one of the guard’s rifle and was demonstrating bow the ejecter and bolt of the rifle would work. For demonstration he used what he supposed was a dummy round or blank cartridge. In the demonstration, the gun was discharged and Moore was In Room No. 5 In rear of No. 1 room where Stoddart was sitting on the bunk occupied by witness. The bullet went through an inch-board partition and struck deceased in the shoulder as he sat with his back to the partition Witness stated that no cadet is allowed to demonstrate with live or dummy ammunition, such being contrary to regulations, unless special authority is given. Whilst Moore was demonstrating the rifle, some fellow cadets were In the room with him. The rifle used was one a guard was to use on duty who was to be posted as guard on the afternoon of the accident. The ammunition apparently came from the aerial gunnery building about half a mile from the barracks. Ammunition is handed out by the instructors. whose duty it is to see that any rounds put out on the tables in this building for use of the machine gun classes in stripping guns are blanks. Moore might have had this cartridge in his pocket. When detained. Moore had no other cartridges in his possession. It is sometimes difficult to detect a live cartridge from a dummy cartridge, as all these are supposed to be dummy. It is against regulations for any cadet to have ammunition. dummy or alive, in his possession, and no cadet has a right to demonstrate a rifle with live or blank cartridges.

This was all the evidence taken at present, and the enquiry was adjourned until Tuesday evening next at thepolice court room.

In the meantime Cadet Moore, who discharged the gun. Is in detention at Mohawk Camp.

Cadet Stoddart. who lost his life, had only been 6 weeks in the service, and only 4 weeks at Camp Mohawk. Tbe remains will be sent to Lawrencetown, N.S.. for interment.

Fairview Cemetery, Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, courtesy of FindaGrave.com

Vernon Stoddart was buried at Fairview Cemetery, Lawrencetown. A transcription of a newspaper article about him is available from the Find a Grave site.

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