John Cosgrove was born about 1905. By the time of World War Two he was living with his family in Orritor Street, Cookstown. John was married with eight children. In August 1944, he had begun working with the American authorities as a labourer. On Saturday 3rd February 1945, John Cosgrove was working with three other men at a wall near Lissan chapel. At about 5pm, an U.S Army truck crushed John Cosgrove against the wall and he died within an hour of wounds received.
John Cosgrove was born about 1905. By the time of World War Two he was living with his family in Orritor Street, Cookstown.
According to the census, there are no young Cosgroves listed as living in Cookstown in 1911, nor for that matter in Tyrone.
John was married with eight children, the youngest being nine months at the time of his death in 1945.
John had worked for Cookstown Urban Council for some years.
In August 1944, he had begun working with the American authorities as a labourer.
His brother, James Cosgrove, lived at McNaney’s Court, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 15th June 1940: (Private E Cosgrove - brother of John Cosgrove)
Mrs Curran of Drapersfield has been officially notified that her son, Seaman A Curran, is reported missing. He was serving on the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Glorious, believed lost in action in Norwegian waters recently. He had several years service in the Navy.
Intimation was received on Thursday by Mr Robert Larmour of Killymoon Street, Cookstown, that his son, Private R Larmour, R.I.F., is missing. Local men who were with British Expeditionary Force in Flanders who are at present on leave include:-
Private J Larmour, R.U.R., of Orritor Street, Cookstown who was wounded in the leg and his brother Private W Larmour, R.I.F., of Killymoon Street
Private John McIlree, R.I.F., of Maloon
Sergeant Thomas McGeown, Royal Field Artillery, of Killymoon Street
Private E Cosgrove, R.I.F., of Orritor Street
Private Victor Stirrup, R.I.F., of Coagh Street
Private J Creggan, Pioneer Corps, of Killymoon Street
Private James Corey, Pioneer Corps, of Fountain Road
Sergeant R Nixon, Royal Artillery, of Coagh Street
Private P Hagan, Royal Artillery, of Fortview
Sapper Cecil Lee, Royal Engineers, of Red Brae, Tullywiggan
Private W Campbell, Pioneer Corps, of Fortview
On Saturday 3rd February 1945, John Cosgrove was working with three other men at a wall near Lissan chapel. At about 5pm, an U.S Army truck approached and its brakes failed. The truck crushed John Cosgrove against the wall and he died within an hour of wounds received. The three other men survived.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th February 1945: Fatal Accident at Lissan – Workman Crushed by Military Lorry
A very sad accident occurred on Saturday evening at Churchtown when John Cosgrove, who resides in Orritor Street, Cookstown, was crushed against a wall by an American military lorry. He lived for nearly an hour later, and before death was attended by Rev V Mallon, P.P. He was a man of forty years of age, and was formerly employed by Cookstown Urban Council. Married, he leaves, besides the widow, a family of eight, the youngest of whom is only nine months. The greatest sympathy is felt for Mrs Cosgrove and her children in their great bereavement.
An inquest was held on Monday afternoon in Moneymore Courthouse by Dr William Cousley, J.P., coroner. District Inspector Walsh, of Magherafelt, conducted the examination of the witnesses; Mr R S Twigg, solicitor, represented the driver of the truck, and Mr E M Doris, solicitor, for the next of kin.
Rendered First Aid
Mrs N Kinnear, in evidence said that at about 5:30 pm, she heard that an accident had occurred, and went into Mr McCully’s private house, which adjoins the shop, and asked Mr McCully to make preparations as a man had been injured. Shen went to where there is an iron gate and found the deceased in a half-sitting position. His right leg appeared to be broken and was almost at right angles to his body. He was holding his abdomen and rocking himself and groaning. She put a splint on the leg and put him on a sheet and had him carried to Mrs McCully’s kitchen. His pulse was irregular and she made him comfortable with water bottles. He was spitting blood, his eyes were swollen and restless, his face was a bluish colour and he complained of tightness of chest and want of air. He was conscious was twenty minutes after the accident. He did not take any stimulants, he pulse got weak and he died. In her opinion, he died from internal haemorrhage.
Constable Stewart said that at about 5:30pm he was on duty and heard of the accident. He went to Mrs McCully’s and found the deceased, who seemed to be in great pain, and Mrs Kinnear was giving first aid. He tried to phone for a doctor, but the telephone was out of order and Mr McCully went to Cookstown in his own motor, and the ambulance arrived at 6:45pm and took the deceased away. The military lorry had the right front mudguard and bumper damaged. He asked what had happened, but the driver gave no explanation and appeared to be suffering from shock.
Proceeding, the constable described the place. The road bends sharply to the left coming from Moneymore. It is 20 and a half foot wide with a water channel. There is a wll on the left hand side with a gateway at the end, which was being repaired and was partly covered by a tarpaulin. There was a fresh mark on it about two foot from the ground as if something had hit it. The road was of tarmacadam with a good surface. It was raining heavily and was no skid mark was visible, but a heavy tyre mark was visible running to where the lorry was parked. A driver coming from Lissan direction would have a clear view of the bend for almost 200 yards. It was a dangerous corner and a number of serious accidents had occurred on it. There was no scaffolding present when he examined the place.
To Mr Twigg – He thought the tyre marks were made when the lorry was backing. The road was wet at the time.
Sergeant Francey, of Moneymore, said that at 6:10pm he heard of the accident. When he arrived at 6:45pm, the ambulance was moving off with the body. He corroborated the evidence of Constable Stewart and added that there was a fairly steep decline for a considerable distance to within 30 yards of the bend and for the last 30 yards there is a slight incline.
James Cosgrove, of McNaney’s Court, Cookstown, identified the body as that of his brother, aged 42, a labourer with a wife and family of eight. The witness last saw him alive at 8:15am on Saturday morning when going to his work.
Dr Mulligan, of Cookstown, who saw the body in the ambulance, described the injuries. Death, in his opinion, was due to cerebral and haemorrhage and shock, following numerous injuries. The injuries were consistent with being crushed between a lorry and a wall.
How it Occurred
Evidence of how the accident occurred was given by John Cole, of Meeting Street, Magherafelt; Patrick Kennedy of Orritor Street, Cookstown; and John McGahan, of Orritor Street, Cookstown, who were working with the deceased at building the wall in question. They were putting a cover on the wall to keep it dry when they heard the lorry coming round the bend. Kennedy was nearest the lorry, and seeing they were in danger, he jumped and shouted to the other three men. He saw the lorry bash Cosgrove against the wall and it also struck Cole. Cosgrove said ‘Pick me up and give me air’, and was removed in the ambulance. McGahan was plastering the inside of the wall which shook with the compact of the lorry, and when he went to the gateway, Cosgrove fell into the gateway from the other side of the wall. The deceased was carried into a house and later removed by an ambulance. Cole, who was on the scaffold, with Cosgrove, saw that the lorry was not going to take the corner, did not know whether to remain on the platform he was on or jump off, and the next thing he knew was that he was lying on his right side under the front axle of the lorry. He crawled out and went to where Cosgrove was in a sitting position between the two gates. The scaffold consisted two 30ft trestles on which were two boards. It projected two and a half foot on the roadway.
The Driver’s Evidence
Sergeant Charles O’Mally, the driver of the lorry, giving evidence, said that he was driving for three years with the army, and before that he had eight years driving experience. On Saturday he was detailed to take a dodge half ton lorry to collect workmen. Coming from the camp in the evening, he had Antonio Lupari beside him, and Peter Loughran and his bicycle on the back. The witness passed the men working at the wall and took Loughran to his house and returned to pick up the men working at the wall. It was raining hard and he was doing about 20 miles per hour, and he had the truck in second gear. Approaching the corner he applied the brakes, which are hydraulic and supposed to work on all four wheels, and found they did not work. He tried to swing round the corner but struck the wall. He felt dazed. It was his first time driving on that road and the brakes seemed all right when he stopped at Loughran’s.
To Mr Doris – Drivers are taught to change down before coming to a hill. He applied the brake before he came to the corner to check the speed of the truck; the brake failed to work and he was then to close to the wall to turn the corner. The police sergeant found the hydraulic pipe line to the back wheel was broken, and that rendered the foot brake on the back wheels inoperative, but operative on the front wheels. The hand brake was effective on the back wheels.
Lieutenant Michael O’Brien, giving evidence, said that he was in charge of the camp where Sergeant O’Mally is stationed. This truck was inspected either on Friday or Saturday morning and if any defect was discovered it would not be permitted to go out. The witness examined it after the accident and found a ruptured pipe line; the brakes on the back wheels were of no use. Sergeant O’Mally has an excellent driving record. The rupture of the pipeline could have occurred at the time of the accident, but he thought it occurred when the driver applied the brakes.
Antonio Lupari, of Market Street, Magherafelt, said he was employed at United States Army Camp and accompanied O’Mally on this occasion. At the foot of a hill, past a chapel, they were approaching a left hand bend, and the driver changed down and the lorry slowed up. It was not going fast – he could not tell the speed. As the lorry approached the bend he saw the driver apply the brakes and try to pull the lorry round, but the brakes seemed not to work, and the lorry did not turn the corner. ‘I then closed my eyes’, added the witness, and found the lorry hitting a wall where men were working. He helped to carry Cosgrove into a house.
To Mr Doris – The driver sounded his horn coming to the corner and changed down about 150 yards from the corner. I felt that the driver would not get round the corner. I closed my eyes. I felt the bump against the wall. It was not a terrible impact.
To Mr Twigg – I opened my eyes when the lorry stopped. I could not say what state the scaffolding was in. I had not seen the men working at the wall on the way out.
Returning his verdict the coroner said:- ‘I find that the deceased came by his death from shock following internal haemorrhage and other multiple injuries as the result of being crushed against a wall by a U.S. Army vehicle driven by Sergeant C O’Mally. I believe that the driver was not to blame.’
Before giving the verdict, the coroner said he would like to commend Nurse Kinnear for her services in the case. She was a fully trained nurse, and it was a good thing to have someone present with some knowledge. She deserved great credit in the manner which she rendered aid. He would also like to commend Constable Stewart in the way in which he dealt with the case after the accident. He endeavoured to obtain a doctor, but found the telephone was out of order. He did everything he could under the circumstances and also deserved great credit.
Continuing, the coroner said that this was a very dangerous corner and the road was also narrow, and he strongly recommended that this corner be made more safe by widening. He expressed deep sympathy with the relatives of the deceased, especially with the widow and young family. It was a terrible blow to them.
Mr Twigg, on behalf of Sergeant O’Mally, associated himself with the remarks of the coroner. He had been asked by Sergeant O’Mally to state how terribly he felt sorrow for the widow and family.
Lieutenant O’Brien, on behalf of the American authorities, also expressed sorrow. John Cosgrove had been working with him since August and he did not think there was a better man working in the camp.
D.L. Walsh, on behalf of the police, associated himself with the sympathy. Mr Doris acknowledged on behalf of the next of kin.
The funeral took place on Monday morning to Cookstown Catholic Cemetery after solemn requiem mass celebrated by the Very Rev Canon Hurson, P.P., V.F., in the presence of a large congregation. The popularity of the deceased was demonstrated by the large attendance at the funeral, especially of his fellow workers, where he was employed by the American authorities. In the course of a panegyric, Canon Hurson referred to the untimely death of the deceased, which all deplored very much. He was a decent hard working man, who always looked after the interests of his family well. He expressed deep sympathy with the sorrowing widow and young family. Among the wreaths places on the grave was one from his fellow workers at the U.S. Army Camp and also one from Lieutenant O’Brien, representing the American authorities.
Thanks & Aftermath
The widow, children, brother and other relatives of the late John Cosgrove, of Orritor Street, Cookstown, wish to thank all those who sympathised with them in their recent tragic bereavement; those who attended the funeral and gave assistance, particularly the following:- Rev V Malon, P.P., Rev L O’Kane, C.C., Mrs Kinnear, Mr and Mrs McCully, Messrs Paddy Kennedy and John McGahan and other workmen; Lieutenant Liam Loughran and Lieutenant O’Brien, both of the U.S. Army; Mrs Jim Mullan and other kind neighbours.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th February 1945: Letters to the Editor – The Churchtown Fatality Inquest
Mr E Malachy Doris, solicitor, writes on 14th February. Would you please give me space to refer to your report in your last issue of the inquest on the late John Cosgrove. The verdict quoted by you was a s follows:-
‘I find that the deceased came by his death from shock following internal haemorrhage and other multiple injuries as the result of being crushed against a wall by a U.S. Army vehicle driven by Sergeant C O’Mally. I believe that the driver was not to blame.’
I am sure that before publishing your report, you were satisfied that this was correct. At the inquest the words ‘I believe that the driver was not to blame’ were not spoken by the coroner. His verdict was read by him slowly, so that those interested could get it down. The sentence I refer to was not spoken then or at any other time. I have no doubt that your reporter can verify this. When and under what circumstances this sentence found its way into your verdict, I am unable to say. I wrote to the coroner, Dr Cousley, on 9th February, pointing out that this sentence was not spoken and was not part of the verdict as read by him and sking to hear from him. He has not replied up to the present.
In this case the matter is not of so much significance as the facts of the tragedy speak eloquently for themselves. It would, however, be an impossible state of affairs in the ordinary course of business if one were to find from the newspapers that, having attended an inquest and heard the verdict, any words, particularly words of possible importance, were later added to it.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th December 1945: The Churchtown Fatality - £2,250 Damages
In the King’s Bench Division, Mr George B Hanna (instructed by Mr E Malachy Doris, solicitor, Cookstown) moved to make the consent a rule of Court in an action brought by Mrs Alice Cosgrove of Orritor Street, Cookstown, against Charles J O’Malley, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Mr Hanna said the action arose out of a fatal accident at Churchtown, Lissan, on 3rd February 1945. The plaintiff’s husband, John Cosgrove, had been working at repairs to a wall there, when he was struck by a U.S. Army truck driven by the defendant, and he received injuries from which he died almost immediately. He had lived with his widow, the plaintiff, and eight children, whose ages ranged from seventeen years to one and a half years. The consent provided for payment of £2,250 and costs. The Lord Chief Justice received the consent and made it a rule of Court, and made an order apportioning the shares of the children.
John Cosgrove – killed at Churchtown in an accident
James Cosgrove - lived at McNaney’s Court, Cookstown. It seems he was involved in ‘war work’
William Bill Cosgrove – Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined army in 1933, captured in Italy at Christmas 1944. Repatriated at end of war
Edward Cosgrove, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, - fourteen years’ service and had been abroad since 1939. He was at the invasion of Normandy, in Holland.
Unknown 5th brother - who was also serving, was killed in a train accident on his way home on leave in 1944.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th March 1945: Fusilier William Cosgrove (brother of John Cosgrove)
Fusilier William Cosgrove, of Cookstown, who was report missing, is now officially reported as a prisoner of war in Germany. He was almost fourteen years in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and since the outbreak of the war has been overseas – in France from 1939, fought in the invasion of Sicily and of Italy and on the Burma Road. His brother, Edward, has also fourteen years’ service and has been abroad since 1939. He was at the invasion of Normandy. Another brother, resident in Cookstown, has been at war-work. They are brothers of John Cosgrave, who was killed a few weeks ago by an American truck at Churchtown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 26th May 1945: More Prisoners of War – Fusiliers Cosgrove (and Darragh)
Fusilier B Cosgrove, of Orritor Street, Cookstown, also of the Inniskillings, arrived home last week, and like Fusilier Darragh, is in excellent health. He has been in the army since 1933 and went to France in June 1939, and from the outbreak of war was in the fighting there until the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. In April 1942 he went to Italy and was taken prisoner by the Germans on 16th December 1944. He was first taken to Montoba where he was held for about a month, when he was taken to Stalag 7A at Moosburg in Germany. After about a couple of months there, he was marched to Mittenberg in the Alps, where he remained until released by the American 7th Army on 1st May. Fusilier Cosgrove says that, on the whole, the Germans treated the prisoners well and while on the march were well treated and were given bread and water on the way. Fusilier Cosgrove also speaks highly of the Red Cross and says that during the time he was held prisoner, Red Cross parcels arrived twice weekly and continued until he was released. The rations provided by the Germans consisted of some soup, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, and at about 4 o’clock in the evening a small portion of bread. Fusilier Cosgrove says he was very pleased with how he was treated by the people of Cookstown on his arrival home. One of his brothers was killed in the fatal accident at Churchtown recently. He also has a brother in the army in Holland. Another brother, who was also serving, was killed in a train accident on his way home on leave last year.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 28h July 1945: Fusilier Edward Cosgrove – brother of John Cosgrove
Fusilier E Cosgrove, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was in the invasion of Normandy, and has been in Holland since VE Day, spent a short furlough at his home in Orritor Street, Cookstown recently. He is a brother of Fusilier B Cosgrove, who had been a prisoner of war in Germany, and he also had another brother serving, who was killed in a train accident on his way home on leave last year.
John Corrigan was buried on Monday 5th February in Cookstown Catholic Cemetery.
John Corrigan is NOT listed with the CWGC as a civilian casualty.