Oaklands Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital, Elton Road, Clevedon
Part Six: The one fatality
Just after Christmas 1918 a very bizarre event happened culminating into the only fatality the hospital was to endure during its entire history.
Major AEY Trestrial, son of the Commandant was home on extended leave to fight the Torquay Parliamentary seat on behalf of the Labour Party. In 1917 he had been casavacked home suffering from Trench Fever; he was 41 when he joined the Cheshire Regiment in 1915, so not a young man.
He had returned to the front and was awarded the DSO with a fighting citation.
Whilst on sick leave some of his kit was returned to his fathers home and it was on the 26th December 1918 that during unpacking he found a Minnenwafer fuse, realising that it was live he went down to the hospital to request the services of a qualified man to defuse it, Private J Hickey, Royal Field Artillery, came forward.
Hickey accompanied the Trestrails to the grounds of their house where he attempted the job under their supervision, he was unsuccessful and the thing went off, injuring both Trestrails but sadly killing Hickey.
A board of enquiry was set up locally and proved no blame to Major Trestrail, on returning to his unit in France in January 1919 a military enquiry there proved the same.
Private Hickey's wife was provided with a pension by the Trestrail family.
In early 1919 the hospital was offered for sale by auction but failed to reach the reserve of £2600-00, however the contents a total of 1000 lots raised £900-00, the proceeds of which were used to set up a fund to build cottage homes for disabled servicemen, the two cottages in Bay Road are still used for that purpose today, and act as a permanent memorial to the people of Clevedon who gave their lives for King and Country.