April 17, 1917 – ‘Remarkably corpulent’ slaughterman loses 12-day battle for life after falling into a vat of boiling water


A ‘remarkably corpulent’ butcher’s slaughterman who fell into a huge bucket of boiling water has died of ‘severe scalds’ according to a story in the April 17, 1917, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

The horrific accident happened to Uppingham man William Peach who survived for 12 days in Oakham Cottage Hospital before he succumbed to his injuries and died on Monday.

The Advertiser has for the past year avoided the type of detailed reports that described the horrors of trench warfare but does not hold back with the facts of this terrible event.

Apparently Mr Peach, who worked for Mr Jasper Frisby at his slaughter shop in Uppingham, had been killing a pig. The news account explains: “He somehow fell into the scalding tub and was unable to extricate himself.

“The large receptacle contained two buckets full of boiling water and when Mr H Frisby, who was assisting returned with another bucket he found Peach on his back in the tub.”

The Advertiser continues: “The poor fellow, who was a remarkably corpulent man, appeared quite helpless, and he was got out in a dreadfully injured condition.

“It is supposed that he was sitting on the edge of the tub and fell backwards into it, but the injured man was unable to give any clear account as to how the accident happened.”

He was nursed in hospital for nearly two weeks before he died from his injuries. An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death.


There is another quite gruesome story in this week’s Advertiser that does not hold back on intimate minutiae even though it is clearly labelled as having been ‘passed as censored’.

It involves a crash in Leicestershire when a plane ‘flying at a great height’ got into difficulties ‘and turned over and crashed to earth instantly killing both passengers’.

The report says: “An eyewitness noticed an aeroplane high up in the sky and appeared to be going along all right. He heard the engine working quite distinctly then the sound died off and he thought the plane had travelled away but he heard a peculiar noise in the sky and saw the machine tumbling down very fast.”

The report continues: “As the speck grew bigger and bigger he saw something falling from it and found it was one of the airmen who fell in a field close by.

“The machine with the pilot strapped to the seat fell in another field about 100 yards away. Several people rushed to the spot but both men were quite dead.”

The bodies of an officer and a corporal have been taken to the Crown Hotel in Ullesthorpe, to await an inquest.

There is also bad news in this week’s Advertiser about a more local man. Lieutenant J E Shrubsole, who was Conservative agent for the Harborough division, has been killed in action while serving with the Leicester Regiment. There are no other details.


And there is a photograph of Gunner F R Dunkley of Caxton Street, Market Harborough, whose death was reported in last week’s edition.

There is some ‘good’ news though about Gunner George Capell of Coventry Road, Harborough, who was reported ‘missing in action’ in last week’s Advertiser.


However, it now appears Gunner Capell is a prisoner of war having been captured along with his major.

The officer had written to his sister in Edinburgh who said in a letter to the Capells that he was being ‘well treated’ but ‘did not know where his men have been sent’.

And there is news that Market Harborough soldier Private Harold Barlow of Coventry Road has won the Military Medal.

  • This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University lecturer David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.
  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s