In February 1915, the Malvern News reported, under the title ‘Death of Malvern Link soldier in Cornwall, from ptomaine poisoning’:
“An inquest was held in Looe, Cornwall with reference to the death of Pte Richard Roan of Interfield, Malvern Link aged 21 who had been undergoing training with the 13th Worcesters. Pte Davies who occupied a bed near the deceased said that after partaking of sardines for tea Roan complained of feeling unwell; in the night he was heard groaning, but not much notice was taken of it. In the morning Roan was too ill to get up. Dr Eustace Webb being medical officer said he came to the conclusion that Roan was suffering form ptomaine poisoning. Death took place about 6pm the same day. Sardines had been served for breakfast to the men the previous day and some complaints had been made. 2/Lt Harold Irvine stated that he had been informed of the complaints by the Mess Orderly Sergeant and he had at once given order that no more sardines be used. It appeared that men passed on unopened tins.
“Acting Cook Sergeant R Pillsey and the Orderly both emphatically stated that no more sardines were given out after Lt Irvine’s orders. The jury found that the death was due to ptomaine poisoning but that the evidence did not clearly indicate how Roan contracted the disease. He recommended that every care should be made to ascertain the condition of tinned food served to the men in future.
“A military funeral was held for Pte Roan – Rev Bono Vicar of Looe officiating. 2/Lieutenant Irvine was in command, and about 400 of the battalion followed. A number of officers were present – including a detachment of the 7th Devon Cyclist Corps. The mourners were Mr and Mrs Roan (Mother and Father), his married sister, whose husband is serving with the 2nd Worcesters, a brother of the deceased was seriously wounded after the Battle of the Aisne and was carried on his cousins back three-quarters of a mile to the rear. He has since recovered. Mrs R Oliver of Looe kindly extended hospitality to the bereaved relatives who travelled from Malvern Link to attend the funeral. A local town band played The Death March by Saul. In addition to the military, so many of the towns people attended the service that it was held in the open by the graveside, where the Last Post was sounded. There were many wreaths including wreaths from the officers and men of the 13th Worcesters. Flags were at half-mast on the public buildings in Looe and on ships in the harbour.”
Malvern News 27/2/15