Report on inquest into death by drowning of Zygmunt Marszalek

Part of the report in the Bucks Herald of 5th August 1949


On the bottom of Wilstone Reservoir, resting on a red bed under eight feet of water, lay a 21-year-old Polish student, Zygmunt Marszalek. On the bank was a perturbed crowd of bathers, many of them Poles. The Englishmen could not make out what had happened, because of the language difficulty. A Pole pointed … and into the water slipped Mr. William Cooling, a young married man from New Mill, Tring, who had just joined the crowd. Ten yards out he did a surface dive – and came up with the Pole. 


Another Tring young man, Mr. Robert Stewart, swam to his aid. A dingy was paddled out to them, and soon the Pole was brought to the bank. Three policemen applied artificial respiration. After an hour a Polish doctor told them it was no good. Marszalek had been in the water too long to be revived.


The tragedy took place on Sunday week, and the inquest was held on Friday at the Victoria Hall, Tring.


The Polish doctor could not say whether Marszalek had had cramp or a heart attack.


The Coroner regretted the delay in searching for Marszalek, but at the same time said it was easy to be wise after the event. He appreciated that it was difficult to understand what had happened from the Polish bathers. He recorded a verdict of “Accidental Death”.


Marszalek had come to the Polish camp at Marsworth only a few days before from a college in Cambridgeshire, to spend a few months’ holiday with his mother and brothers, who live at the camp. It was his first visit to the reservoir. He passed a swimming course in East Africa.

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