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Oct 12

The Human Shield

A trio of soldiers brought shame to their families and regiment when in August 1895 their excessive intake of alcohol brought them face to face with bars of a rather different kind.

At a four-hour hearing Neston magistrates presided over the serious matter of Peter Sherlock, John Pears and Thomas Jones, each a private in the Heswall Rifle Volunteers. The men had earlier been out to a shooting competition in the town and had taken far more than a drop to drink during the afternoon’s affairs.

Their walk home was far from discretionary and the men fired their rifles randomly into the sky. Trouble arose when a shot struck an overhanging branch which unluckily fell and hit a passing Mr Doyle as he walked along the roadside.

He immediately contacted the nearest policeman and Sergeant O’Donnell was soon on the scene. He could see for himself the danger in the soldiers’ conduct and took steps to make a swift arrest.

“Stand back!” shouted Sherlock, “or I’ll send a bullet through you!”

This was a potentially deadly threat.

“I must do my duty” replied the officer, as he watched Sherlock take a ball from his pocket and position the rifle square on his shoulder.

Fully aware of the risk Sergeant O’Donnell quickly jumped behind the tipsy Thomas Jones and using the drunkard as a human shield, pushed forward to Sherlock and knocked him to the ground. Each man was then promptly arrested.

On Friday, August 28th Jones and Pears were both sentenced to 10 shillings and costs for their part in the fracas whilst the trigger-happy Peter Sherlock was sentenced to six months hard labour

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