for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*
Naval Brigade - Williamstown
The Accident to Gunner Richardson (Fosburghe, 2nd from left) Illustrated Australian News, 1 March 1895
SERIOUS INJURY TO A GUNNER.
BLOWN FROM THE MOUTH OF A FIELD-PIECE.
The Argus, 11 February 1895
"The immense crowd which assembled at the Exhibition buildings on Saturday night had a most thrilling and unwelcome sensation added to the programme whilst the field-guns were displayed in action, one of the men being struck by a blank charge and thrown from the mouth of a field-piece. The guns were brought out by the Naval Brigade, which is drawn from Williamstown and Port Melbourne, and there is a good deal of rivalry between the teams of the respective places. The arrangement was that the men should run out the guns and fire them. Then in the face of a charge by the enemy should dismember the pieces, and leave them lying in scattered fragments useless to an enemy and retreat, a detachment of infantry coming up to repel the attack. All this had been done smartly, and the enemy being repulsed, the men of the Naval Brigade rushed back, gathered up the wheels, carriage, and gun, and with remarkable celerity put the pieces together and fired a shot at the enemy now supposed to be in full retreat.
The gun nearest the grandstand, manned by men from Williamstown, was speedily limbered up and fired, but the concourse observed with dismay that at the instant the shot of flame belched from the muzzle one of the men crossed the line of fire and was lifted from his feet and was thrown four or five yards forward onto the turf, where he rolled over several times and then attempted to rise. He struggled onto his hands and knees and then fell forward on to his face, whilst flames leaped up from his clothing and enveloped him as he lay writhing on the grass. The thousands of spectators were hushed into the most profound stillness, some wondering whether this was not part of the play, but most of them convinced that a tragedy was being enacted before their eyes. The men at the gun, absorbed in carrying out the routine of the drill, seemed to the spectators to be long in noticing what had occurred, and an interval which probably could be measured by seconds, but which seemed much longer, occurred before anyone went to the assistance of the injured man. But as soon as the men (at the gun) recognised what had occurred they ran forward as if with one impulse, and with their naked flames smothered the flames. The ambulance litter was brought out, and one or two medical offices were speedily on attendance on the injured gunner. The suspense was most painful for several minutes, and then the man was lifted on to the stretcher and borne away, whilst Colonel Penno expressed his pleasure at being able to announce that the injuries the man had received were not dangerous, and that he had himself requested that the display should continue.
In the building the injured man was attended to by Brigade-Surgeon Fetherston, Surgeon-Major Robertson, and Surgeon Embling. The uniform was burnt completely away from his right breast and shoulder, which were scarred and blackened, and his neck and right cheek were also badly burned. He was placed in the ambulance van, and taken to the Melbourne Hospital where his injuries wre attended to by Dr. Officer, resident surgeon, and Dr. Stirling, one of the honoury staff. Yesterday he was visited by Major-General Sir. Charles Holland-Smith and Colonel Penno. Last night he was reported to be progressing favourably, and no serious result is feared. The name of the injured gunner is George Richardson of Williamstown. He states that he was No. 2 of the detachment which was working the gun, and that it was his duty to fire the charge, but that just as he was passing the muzzle the charge was fired by No. 1, a man named Fosbery, and he claims that an investigation be made into the circumstances attending the accident."
Note: From a report in The Argus on 1 March (below) it appears that the correct spelling of Gunner Fosbery's name was Foxburghe.
The secretary of Defence has received the report of the naval officers concerning the circumstances surrounding the injury to Gunner George Richardson, of the Williamstown Battery, at the Military Tattoo at the Exhibition-building on the 19th inst. The report will be submitted to the Minister of Defence to-day. It is understood the officers find that Gunner Richardson and Gunner Fosbery, the latter of whom was acting as No. 1 of the crew, contributed to the accident by disobeying the orders. It was the duty of Gunner Richardson as No. 2 to fire the gun, but in order to be more expeditious than the rival crew from Port Melbourne, he, contrary to the rules, delegated this duty to Gunner Fosbery, who discharged the piece just as Gunner Richardson was passing the muzzle, thus causing the injuries the latter received. It is stated that Gunner Richardson acted wrongly in delegating his duty, and so did Gunner Fosbery in firing the gun, which was no part of his functions.
The Argus, 18 February 1895
The finding of the Naval Board, composed of Lieutenants Tickell and Colquhoun and Chief Gunner Dann, which enquired into the circumstances leading to the accident at the military tattoo to Gunner Richardson, was read to the whole Naval Brigade last night, at the conclusion of their inspection by Captain Neville, R.N. Commander Kingsford, R.N., read a report detailing the evidence adduced, the effect of which has appeared in The Argus, which went to show that Gunners Foxburghe (No. 1) and Richardson (No. 2) by wrongfully deviating from the principles of their drill were mainly responsible for the accident. He severely reprimanded Foxburghe and Richardson, saying that such conduct had never been brought under his notice before, and was most unpardonable. He censured the officers concerned for allowing such a deviation from duty, and expressed the hope that it would never again occur.
The Argus, 1 March 1895
* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria. Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.