Lance Corporal Percival INNES
(Private on CWGC record)


Regiment/Service:
Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own)
Unit:
3rd Battalion
Service Number:
G/6024
Date of Death:
27 September 1915 - Killed in Action
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 99-101.

Personal History:
Percival was born in the December quarter 1893 the eldest son of John Smith (Gentleman's Outfitter) and Florence Sophia (née Adams) Innes of Darwin Avenue, Buxton. He had a younger sister, Florence. (1901 Census RG 13/3269)

The 1911 Census (RG 14/21240) shows the family living on Dale Road, Buxton, and Percival was working as a "Shop Assistant", presumably in his father's shop. Later, after the War, the family moved to Inglewood, Buxton.


Military History:
In August 1914 the 3rd Battalion were in Cawnpore, India, returning to England in December 1914. It moved to Winchester and was attached to 85th Brigade in 28th Division. The Battalion landed at Le Havre 19th January 1915.

Percival enlisted at Buxton and his Medal Index Card shows he entered France on 23rd March 1915. His Service Records do not appear to have survived. However, another Buxton casualty, Private Tom MOSLEY, has an adjacent number to Percival (i.e. 6023) and he enlisted at Buxton on the 14th November 1914.

Percy's Battalion took part in The Second Battle of Ypres, 22nd April - 25th May 1915, and he would have arrived in preparation for this Battle, quite possibly as part of the reinforcement. Second Ypres is generally remembered today as marking the first use of gas on the Western Front, and two big attacks by the German on the opening two days of the Battle pushed the British back to the town of Ypres itself. Percy lost 34 of his comrades during this initial push and during the course of the whole Battle Percy's 3rd Battalion had 190 Officers and men killed in action or died of their wounds. 139 men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial. Many others, who succumbed to their wounds, are buried near the hospital sites around Boulogne.

Percy's next major engagement was The Battle of Loos, 25th September - 18th October 1915, and he lost his life two days after the start. On that day his 28th Division had moved south from Ypres, entering the Loos area under Major-General E. Bulfin.

Overnight there had been heavy enemy shelling of Fosse 8, tracks to the North (Trois Cabarets) and communication trenches leading up to the Hohenzollern Redoubt continued throughout the night. At about 3.00pm: Major-General Bulfin's 28th Division which was on the way to the battle area from Bailleul, arrived and he took command of the sector. He received an order to counter-attack to retake the lost positions, using 26th Brigade. After the heavy fighting of the last days, this Brigade now mustered only some 600 men. They suffered further casualties in moving up, but succeeded in joining the hard-pressed 73rd Brigade in the area around the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

The Battalion War for the day Percival was killed is rather brief - bearing in mind the number of casualties. It states: "Battn marched to VERMELLES arriving about 1 p.m. halted in open and remained there until 2 a.m."

The Diary for the following day, however, gives a much fuller account of the action, in which they lost their Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. George Henry Neale :

"At 2.00 a.m. orders received to proceed to the British old first trench via 'Central Boyan'
to a position opposite HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT. On arrival there orders received to
support the Buffs in an attack at once towards the DUMP and clear all trenches and
communication trenches on left of DUMP. Bombardment started and ceased at 9.30 a.m.
The Buffs advanced in the open and the Battn. along SOUTH FACE TRENCH. On arrival
at point 35 (DUMP TRENCH) - the bombers attacked along the left face of the trench.

Considerable progress was made when the bombs ran out and urgent appeals were made
for more. The Battn. then began to suffer considerable casualties from a heavy attack with
bombs by the enemy. The narrow trench then became congested with wounded men from
other units who were relieved and on their way out of the trench, and also the Buffs who had
to give away on the right. The C.O. then gave the order to withdraw slowly. This operation
was most difficult, the trench being a narrow one and seven feet deep.

We were enfiladed on both sides by M.G. fire and impossible to show a head above a
parapet. About this time the C.O. (Col. Neale) was killed. The Battn. was then withdrawn
down the S. FACE. Orders were received to hold BIG WILLIE. The Coys. were distributed
along BIG WILLIE. "

Percival lost his life during this engagement, one of 37 men to die in action on the 27th plus 5 Officers and 11 men on the 28th. The notation on his Medal Index Card: "Presumed Dead" confirms his body was never found and he is now commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

He is also commemorated on his parents' grave in Buxton Cemetery, with the inscription: "Missing at Loos 1915, aged 21 years".


                               


Footnote:
· Another Buxton man, Pt. John STENSON, of the same Battalion, was killed in action just three
   days after Percy. His page gives full details of the later action.

Sources:
· I am grateful to Martin O'Neill for the photo of Percival's name on the Loos Memorial.
· I am grateful to Colin Taylor for the War Diary extracts
                                                                                    

Link to CWGC Record
Percy Innes' name on The Loos Memorial
The Loos Memorial
Dispositions on 25 September 1915
Dispositions on 25 September 1915
[The 1/Middlesex Regiment held the left
flank of the front line.]
Percy's name on his family grave
Percy is commemorated on his parents' grave in Buxton Cemetery
poppy
... about the Battle of Loos