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Eric Hatchell - Accident in the Chemistry Lab at school

Eric Christopher Wellesley Hatchell was born on 27th September 1898 and baptised on 18th October 1898 at All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad, India. His father, Christopher Frederic Wellesley Hatchell was the Clerk in Holy Orders who baptised him. His mother was Ella D’Arcy Hatchell. Eric had 2 sisters both born in Bombay – Eileen Constance born and died in 1897, and Sheila D’Arcy born 1902.

The Hatchell family were well established in Asia. Christopher Frederic Wellesley Hatchell was born in 1868 on The Prince of Wales Island in Penang, Malaysia, where his father David Thompson Hatchell was a Lieutenant in the Madras Staff Corps and a Police Magistrate in Province Wellesley. Province Wellesley, now Seberang Perai, was named after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, who served as the Governor of Madras and Governor General of Bengal between 1797 and 1805. No connection between the families has been found so the assumption is that the name Wellesley was given to Christopher due to the place of his birth and subsequently to Eric.

Eric was sent to school in England – on the 1911 census he was a 12 year old scholar at a school in Hastings called The University School. By 1913 he was a student at Lancing College. It was here that a tragic accident took place. Whilst taking part in a practical chemistry experiment, a glass tube broke in his hand, making a deep cut between the thumb and the first finger and extending to the base of the right hand. To the Medical Officer at the college it had the appearance of a clean wound and he disinfected and dressed it. Two days later there were signs of inflammation, which spread. He died 2 weeks later from septicemia causing heart failure. The Coroner’s jury expressed the opinion that all that could be done had been done by the college authorities and a verdict of accidental death was given. Eric’s father, who had come home from India on furlough, said that he was satisfied with the verdict.

Eric is buried in Tunbridge Wells cemetery next to the grave of his grandparents, David Thompson Hatchell and Eliza Emelie, who had died in 1906. David lived in Woodbury Park Road until his death in 1926.

Eric’s memorial has an anchor and chain – often symbolic of a naval or maritime profession – maybe he had aspirations to this. However, it maybe just has biblical connections representing strong faith.

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