Meet Percy

mainimage_Percy

1894

Born on 21st December

1901 Census National Archives records him as the 7 year old son of George E Roberts & Elizabeth A Roberts.
Address: 291 Seven Sisters Road, Stoke Newington, London.

1907-1909

Attended Bloxham School.

1913

IvyFarm_350pxWTook up farming on his father’s land, Ivy Farm, East Mersea.

1914

10th September

Enlisted with his friend Harry Pearl Cross from Waldegraves Farm. Enlisted at Albert Hall in Colchester. As keen horsemen, they joined the 11th Hussars.

10th October

Percy requested a commission and his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Brooke recommended him for a commission in the infantry, although his application showed that he wished to remain with the 11th Hussars.

15th November

Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 11th Battalion Essex Regiment. Trained at Shoreham, billeted in Brighton.

1915

January

Unfit for service due to unerupted upper wisdom tooth.

February

Rejoined Battalion, continued training.

21st August

While practicing trench warfare on Chobham Common, the Battalion was notified that it would be ordered to France within a week.

28th August

Percys_EssexCompany650pxWAdvance party left for France

30th August

Main body of men followed, landing at Boulogne. Moved to Ostrohove rest camp situated on a hill overlooking the town.

21st September

Marched to the front line near Bethune ready for the planned offensive to be known as the Battle of Loos. Commenced on 25th September, and lasted until 8th October.

20th October

The Battalion moved to the Ypres Salient.

During this tour of duty Percy was taken ill and diagnosed as having tonsillitis and jaundice, the jaundice possibly having been caused by contaminated needles, as he had an injection prior to the jaundice appearing. He was evacuated from the Salient and admitted to the St John Hospital at Etaples

30th December

Percy returned to England to recover at home in West Mersea.

1916

11th March

Reported for duty with the 12th (Reserve) Battalion, Essex Regiment at Harwich.

2nd June

Rejoined 11th Battalion on Ypres Salient. Involved in the Battle of the Somme, and later again in the Loos area.

29th July

Transferred to the Royal Flying Corps to train as either a pilot or an observer.

November

Returned home suffering effects of shell shock. Evidence suggests he was gassed.

1917

16th March

Medical Board decided that he was permanently unfit to serve as a pilot or observer. Ordered to join the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment at Felixstowe for a further period of service on the Home Front while he recovered fully.

10th August

Again, embarks for France and rejoins the 11th Battalion Essex Regiment which was again in action in the Loos area.

11th November

Promoted to rank of Lieutenant and took part in the Battle of Cambrai.

1918

3rd January

Takes command of ‘A’ Company.

21st March

Percy_as_officerBapaume on the Somme as Germany launches their Spring offensive, code named ‘Michael’ in an attempt break the Allied lines. The action of the day is vividly described in the Battalion War Diary.

Nothing was ever seen or heard of Lieutenant Percy Roberts again, and his body was never recovered. It was not until 2nd April 1918, that his family in West Mersea were informed by telegram that Percy had been killed.

His colonel wrote ‘Your son’s sad death will cause a sad gap in the battalion. He was a capable, hard working officer, and much beloved by his men, with whom he was always closely in touch. He died gallantly, as an officer should, leading his men, and gave his life for his country and our dear ones at home.’

He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery and on the West Mersea War Memorial. His name also appears on the family grave in the West Mersea Cemetery, Barfield Road.

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