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1 correction by Bjenks - Show corrections

SOLDIERS' DEATHS. BRAWL AT FREMANTLE. Coroner's Finding. At the conclusion of an inquest in the Fremantle Courthouse yesterday into the deaths of Stanley Reginald Hooper (26) and Ned Rako Kelly (21), New Zealand Maori soldiers, who sustained fatal knife wounds in a brawl at Fremantle on April 11, the District Coroner (Mr H. J. Craig, SM) issued the following finding: "I find that Hooper came by his death at Fremantle Hospital on April 11, 1944, from a knife wound inflicted by an American soldier, whose identity has not been estab- lished, during a brawl which occur- red in the National Hotel, Fremantle. I find that Kelly came by his death at Fremantle Hospital on April 12, 1944, from a knife wound inflicted by an American soldier, named Harold Hicks, in a brawl which occurred near the Common wealth Bank, in High-street, Fre- mantle. Hicks in using the knife was acting in self-defence and in the de- fence of another American soldier from attacks by superior numbers of New Zealand soldiers." Det-Sgt John Cannon examined the witnesses, and the interests of the Allied servicemen were watched by their own legal adviser. The New Zealand soldiers were not repre- sented by counsel.   Further evidence was given yester- day by Edith Jean Sellman, wife [of] the licensee of the National Hotel, two barmen employed at the same hotel, Dr John Kargotich, of the Fremantle Hospital, Constable Taylor and Det-Sgt J. Cannon. Dr Kargotich told the Coroner that Kelly died from a stab wound of the lung and kidney, haemorrhage and shock. Hooper's death was due to chest wounds, haemorrhage and shock. Det-Sgt Cannon said that at the Hollywood Hospital on April 11 he interviewed the three American sol- diers who had taken part in the brawl. Their names were Harold Hicks, William Edward Arford and Terje Brekka. Hicks said: "Accom- panied by Arford and Brekka I came on leave to Fremantle without permission. We intended to get a drink and return. When we arrived in Fremantle we were equipped with a webbing pistol belt, but minus the pistol. We had a trenching knife at tached to the belt. It is part of the guard equipment. We were having some drinks in an hotel when some New Zealand soldiers said some dis- paraging remarks to me. I resented them and spoke to the New Zealand soldiers. Immediately I spoke the New Zealanders attacked me. Arford came to my assistance and engaged in the fight. Later I saw Brekka lying on the footpath and New Zea- land soldiers kicking him. I deny having used my trenching knife at any stage of the brawl. I have no knowledge of a knife or other weapon being used In the fight. I knew the disagreement between the New Zea- land soldiers and myself caused the fight." Arford and Brekka also denied any knowledge of having used a knife to protect themselves in the fight against the New Zealand soldiers. Invited to give evidence the three American soldiers claimed privilege on the ground that any evidence they had to give might incriminate them