Hunting trip ends in tragedy

1917 – Alfred Chesson, 19, accidentally shot himself on the way home from a hitherto-successful shooting expedition.

Alfred Chesson, Cue cemetery, accidentally shot 1/4/1917. Image Sharyn Moodie

The family lived at Day Dawn, a Western Australian gold mining settlement which today is a whisper of a ghost town, 6 kilometres from Cue.

On Saturday afternoon Alf, his father, also Alfred, and a younger brother had taken their sulky on a shooting excursion, and camped that night at thea local water hole.

According to a local newspaper,  on Sunday “they had an enjoyable day amongst the game, and were on their way home with a good bag on Sunday afternoon, when some plovers were seen off the road”.

Alf got out and shot at the birds, which flew away but landed a short distance away. He decided to try again, but did not fire at them.

This is where he made a fatal error  – he did not unload the gun again.

As he was getting back into the sulky, he was helping his father and brother bring a rug over their knees, and the gun, in his left hand, went off.

“The charge entered the lad’s head above the left ear blowing part of the skull away.”

The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette

“Death was instantaneous. The father and brother received a great shock, and it was some moments before they fully realized that Alf was dead.’’

The newspaper sun his praised as a reliable young eldest son.

“Young Alf was employed at the Telegraph Office at Day Dawn, and had only recently celebrated his nineteenth birthday.

“He was due for his holidays, and was looking forward to a trip to Perth at an early date.

“He was a lad who had gained the respect of all, for smartness and courtesy in his position, and was looked upon as being one who would rise in the Department.

Sources: The West Australian, Tuesday 3 April 1917,  p8

The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette, Friday 6 April 1917, p2

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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