Percy Orman


Private 50225, 1st/8th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Died 5th April 1918 aged 19

No Known Grave Commemorated Arras Memorial, France

Son of Tom Chambler and Martha Eliza Orman

Lived 2, Firth Square, Heckmondwike

Percy was born on 13 February 1899, the second child of Tom Chambler and Martha Eliza Orman. Tom and Eliza (her first Christian name was rarely used) were married on 27 June 1896 in St Peter’s Batley. Eliza (née Ramsden) had a family background firmly rooted in the Adwalton, area. Tom was born in Bretton near Wakefield but his family originated in Lincolnshire, his mother, Harriett Chambler, came from Upton near Gainsborough.

Tom was a farmer living in Upper Batley at the time of his son’s Baptism on 29 March 1899. In 1901 the family of Tom (aged 24) Eliza (26) Cyrus (4) and Percy (2) were at 26 Huddersfield Road, Birstall. Sometime later the family moved further up the road to 109 Gelderd Road not far from the Pheasant Inn and were there in 1911. With their parents were Cyrus (14) Percy (12) Lily (9) Annie (6) Eva (3) and baby Hilda. Tom was a brewery dray-man – work which usually involved beer barrel deliveries to local pubs. Cyrus is shown as employed in coal mining.

When war began Cyrus was the first of the brothers to enlist and he joined the West Yorkshire Regiment on 19 June 1915. He gave his address as 2 Firth Square, which was behind the former Heckmondwike Fire Station on High Street, and his occupation as a groom at Springwell Brewery on Church Street Heckmondwike.

No army service records exist for Percy but his enlistment is likely to be not long after his 18th birthday in February 1917. The required age for service overseas had been 19 years, but manpower shortages forced this to be changed to 18½ in March 1918. Percy would already be liable for overseas service from February 1918 but we know that these age restrictions were sometimes only loosely observed. Percy had joined the 1st/8th Lancashire Fusiliers, a Battalion raised initially in Salford, and which had arrived in France in February 1917 after service in Gallipoli and Egypt. The German Spring offensive on the Western Front began in late March 1918 and the Battalion had already suffered over 200 casualties that month alone. On 5 April 1918 at 5am the Battalion was heavily shelled before the German Infantry moved forward around 9am.

The War Diary says that ‘The right flank held out, but was afterwards forced to withdraw through the village of Bucquoy [between Albert and Arras]. The remainder of the battalion consisting of 80 men, in conjunction with the 1st /5th Lancashire Fusiliers counter- attacked around 4:30pm and re-established a line somewhat to the rear of our original position’. Percy was one of the 202 other rank casualties on that day. His body was not recovered.

It was not until 28 April 1919 that Percy’s father was sent the outstanding pay and allowances totalling £8 9s1d. The records show ’5/4/18 – death presumed’. The war gratuity of £5 is included in that sum. A pension of 15s a week was paid to his parents from 14 January 1919 when they were still living at 2 Firth Square. Eliza died in 1926; Tom in 1935. Percy’s brother Cyrus was wounded 3 times – gunshot wounds in 1916 and 1917; by gas in 1918. He received no pension payments and died in 1970.

Percy has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and on the Rolls of Honour at St Saviour’s and St James’ Churches. {PL/AG-099}

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