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Key dates over March 1918

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Lives lost on this day: 28

28th March 1918 - Strychnine administered to her mistress

Rolling casualty count: 8951

War Front:

1st Batt: The Batt retired and took up a position on high ground north west of Vrely which was then entered by the enemy. The Batt retired to higher ground south east of Caix but it had to evacuate this line and proceed to Moreuil, the Rouvrel where it billeted for the night.

2nd Batt: Batt still in Front Line but side stepped southwards with 1 Coy. Batt HQ moved to Retaliation Farm.

3rd Batt: After a very cold night the Batt marched to billets in St Ouen. The men had marched 36 miles in 36 hours very well.

10th Batt: Batt marched back from the Line to Famechon.

4th Batt: Good Friday Services were held at the Church Army Hut, Brake Camp. Position numbers 8 and 9 were taken over by the Royal Newfoundlands.

Home Front:

Councillor Walter Sharpe of Ailesworth, Bath Road, Worcester has received information that his son, 2nd Lieut. Gilbert Sharpe of the Worcestershire Regiment, has been wounded during the severe fighting in France, receiving by gunshot severe injury in the back. He has been sent to the Liverpool Merchants’ Hospital. Councilllor Sharpe has three other soldier sons.

Major Rupert E. Roberts killed in action, was the second son of the late Mr. James Roberts of Clent House, Bromyard Road, Worcester. He was educated at the Royal Grammar School and was a B.A. of Cambridge. He was for some years in Egypt, under the Ministry of Public Instruction and afterwards became a master at Murchiston School, Edinburgh where he was in command of the Cadets. When war broke out he was in Florida and obtained a commission in the Manchester Regiment as a Captain from the Territorial Reserve. Major Roberts had been in France since 1915. Three brothers have also been serving.

On Wednesday a special Court was held at Hundred House, to investigate a serious charge made against a domestic servant, Annie Louisa Bayliss, 14 years of age, with administering strychnine to her mistress, Mrs. Fanny Wainwright of Hustle Hail Farm, Dunsley on March 7th. Mrs. Wainwright, who was in an enfeebled condition and was allowed to be seated during her evidence said after dinner on March 7th, she directed the girl to make her a cup of tea, as usual. This was done and she drank about two-thirds of the contents of the cup. She noticed that the tea was exceedingly bitter. In about 10 minutes she began to feel unwell and her legs felt weak. Witness went into the foalyard to call the farm boy and he went for a doctor. She sat down in the yard and all of a sudden she fell on her back in great agony. She remained there alone for four hours in considerable pain and was unable to move. On the following day she had a conversation with her nurse after which she spoke to the accused: “Annie, why did you do this?” and she replied “I don’t know.” Her husband asked the girl where she found the bottle which contained strychnine and she said she found it some time ago and that she put some water into the bottle on the previous day, “it ought to have killed her and if I had known I would have given her the lot.” On the Wednesday witness had occasion to correct the girl for improper conduct. When the accused was called she emphatically denied that she had put anything into the tea or that she had seen the poison bottle until after her mistress had been taken ill. Mr. Loft said he felt that he could not, in view of the prisoner’s persistent statement of innocence, take the responsibility of advising the girl and therefore she would prefer to go to a Jury. He asked the Court to issue a certificate under the Poor Prisoners’ Defence Act, so that Counsel could be briefed for her defence. The Court refused the application.

Information researched by The Worcestershire World War 100 team