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Private 20740, 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry.

Killed in action on Saturday 22nd May 1915, age 36.

Remembered on the Vimy Memorial, France.

Former student of Applied Chemistry and Metallurgy.


 

Percy was born on 15th August 1885 to John W. and Annie Laura Allen of Surbiton, Surrey. His father was employed by Longmans, Green & Company. Percy studied Applied Chemistry and Metallurgy at The Tech.

Percy attested with the 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry (103rd Regiment Calgary Rifles) on 23rd September 1914 at Valcartier, near Quebec. He declared himself to be an unmarried Motor Engineer. He was 5ft 10.5 inches tall, had a chest measurement of 37 inches, weighed 195lbs and had black hair and blue eyes.By this time his parents had moved to Blakeney in Norfolk. Posted to “D”company his unit left Canada on 3rd October 1914.

Letters Percy wrote in early May 1915 explained that he was in trenches on the banks of the Yser Canal in Belgium. Here he narrowly escaped a bullet which went clean through his hat causing him to see stars. During a bayonet attack on a wood he saw several of his friends injured and killed. His unit took some trenches and prisoners, and repulsed two attacks before being ordered to withdraw. In order to avoid machine gun fire as he pulled back Percy pretended to be hit and crawled to the cover of a shell hole. On looking out his ear lobe was scratched by a passing bullet which made his head sing for a day and a half. His unit then went into reserve. Percy was very shaken by the sights he saw, and commented that he would never forget them, though he was pleased on returning to Ypres to have roast chicken, lobster salad, jellies and champagne for breakfast which had been looted from the town.

On 20th May 1915 Percy’s unit was near Festubert in France. They were ordered to make an attack, but it failed due to lack of reconnaissance, ineffective artillery fire, and having to move forward in open view of the enemy. On the 21st at 8.00pm they attacked again gaining 225 yards for little loss of life, but progress was halted by machine gun fire. They then moved into the support lines. On the 22nd the Germans attacked and artillery bombardments severely damaged the parapet killing the men close by. The battalion was ordered to withdraw from the trenches it had captured. During these few days 18 officers and 250 other ranks were lost. It is presumed that Percy was killed or died of wounds as a result of one of these actions.