Name: Percy Collins
Burial Number: 1620
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Percy was born in South Kensington, the son of Joseph and Sarah (who are also buried at Heene). His father was a fly proprietor and by 1885, the family had moved to Worthing, living over stables in Milton Street. Percy preferred to use his middle name and as a young man he trained as a carpenter. In 1916, Percy enlisted in the Royal Navy as Richard Percy Collins, serving in the Dardenelles before being transferred to land operations in Portsmouth. He was described as being 5ft 8ins tall with dark brown hair and eyes. Percy was invalided out on 28th March 1917. The reason given was “mental debility”. In 1917, using his first name, Percy enlisted in the Army, serving with the Royal Sussex and the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiments. He fought on the Western Front, was captured and was sent as a prisoner of war to Dusseldorf in Germany. He was repatriated and discharged on 18th August 1919. On arrival in England, Percy was sent to Hellingly Hospital in Sussex to be treated for neurasthenia (shell shock). He returned to Worthing and by 1923 was living in Graham Road. This year saw the first of 33 court appearances for disorderly conduct, drunkenness or obscene language. Most times, Percy was fined. He moved from one lodging to another including Warwick Road and Ann Street. By 1934, he was living at 18 Meredith Road. On 15th September 1935, Percy was found drowned on the beach underneath the Bandstand (Lido). No probate.
For further details of Percy’s life and death, see the inquest report below.
Researcher: Carol Sullivan
Location in Cemetery
Area: NWS Row: 8 Plot: 3
Exact Location (what3words): unit.clubs.dame
Ashes or Urn: Unknown
Name: Percy Richard Collins
Maiden Name: Not applicableNo marriage information is available for this burial record.
Information at Death
Date of Death: 15/09/1935
Cause of death: Drowning
Address line 1: No Fixed Abode
No obituary has been entered.
Money left to others: No value recorded
Current value of effects: Not calculated
Over Stables, Milton Street, Worthing.
Joseph aged 43, fly proprietor. Sarah aged 41. Emily aged 17, shop assistant. Florence aged 15, dressmaker’s apprentice. Sarah aged 14, helps mother. Richard P aged 6. Charlotte aged 5. Albert aged 3. Elizabeth aged 9 months.
3 Milton Street, Worthing.
Joseph aged 53, cab operator. Sarah aged 51. Florence Overington aged 25, daughter, wife of licensed victualler. Richard P aged 16, carpenter’s apprentice. Charlotte aged 15. Albert aged 13, office boy. Elizabeth aged 10. Oswald Jack Overington aged 1, grandson. Lionel Overington aged 6 months, grandson.
3 Milton Street, Worthing.
Joseph aged 63, cab proprietor. Sarah aged 61. Richard Percy aged 25. Elizabeth aged 20.
Worthing Gazette 18 September 1935
“Beach Sleeper Drowned”
Tragedy at Worthing. Caught by Very High Tide.
A well-known local figure Percy Richard Collins was found drowned on Worthing beach on Sunday morning, and at the inquest which the West Sussex Coroner (Mr F W Butler) held on Monday, evidence was given of how he had recently been sleeping out under the Bandstand. A journeyman carpenter by trade, he was 49 years of age. Details of the deceased’s war service which led to his suffering from neurasthenia were given to the coroner by his sister Sarah Louise Collins, 11 Heene Road, Worthing. Her brother had not had a fixed abode lately she said, but they did not know that until after his death. he had told her he was in lodgings, and she thought he must have said that because he did not wish to worry his mother.
During the War, he served in the Royal Sussex and Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiments, from which he was invalided out. He was a prisoner of war for 14 months at Dusseldorf and suffered great hardship. He was honourably discharged and after that was sent to Hellingly Hospital for treatment for neurasthenia. After leaving there, he went to live with his mother but had not been there recently.
“He had brainstorms which were terrible at times” said witness “We had no idea that he was sleeping out or we should have been very worried. He was devoted to his mother and would go through anything rather than worry her.” Asked if he had threatened suicide, she said he had never done so.
Police Constable Lester said he said Collins in Montague Street at about 10.50 on Saturday night. He was standing on a corner with a vacant look that he sometimes had. On Sunday morning, witness was on duty on the Parade. The tide was then exceptionally high and rough, coming right up under the Bandstand. Witness knew that deceased sometimes slept under the Bandstand and the tide was then high enough to cover a man lying on the beach. William Searle, a boatman and fisherman who found the body on Sunday morning said it was lying on the seaweed two groynes to the east of the Bandstand. Police Constable Thompson said the body was 35 yards south of the Parade. It was fully dressed except for jacket and cap. Collins had been sleeping out for the last two months at least, sometimes under the Bandstand. On the body he found a savings bank book showing a balance of £14 11s 4d, a pension book, a watch which had stopped at 1.26, some keys and a 10s note.
Dr W O Pitt said that death was due to drowning. “I should imagine he got trapped” said the doctor. “He may have got a little stunned by his head being hit on one of the supports of the Bandstand”.
The Coroner; “There is no suggestion that the man contemplated suicide and I think in the circumstances I should be justified in returning a verdict that he met his death by an accident.”
The Coroner recorded a verdict that the deceased was drowned in the sea, caught by a very high tide while asleep under the Bandstand and that it was an accident.