MARSH, Percy

No.5/5075, Rifleman, Percy MARSH
Aged 19

2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
Died of his Wounds on Saturday, 25th September 1915

Percy MARSH was born at 59 Burton End, Haverhill on 17th November 1895 (Risbridge Q4-1895 4A:700), baptised in St Mary's. Haverhill on 29th September 1896, son of Frederick and Mary Ann MARSH (née NUNN).

1901 census...Aged 5, he was at 67 Burton End, Haverhill with his father Frederick MARSH [44] hair weaver; his mother Mary A [42] Army bag maker; brothers William [18] hair weaver, John [14] milk boy on farm, and Arthur [7]; sisters Martha [11], Rose [9] and Jenny [2]. All were born in Haverhill.

1911 census...Aged 15, a rope spinner, he was still at 67 Burton End with his parents; sisters Rose and Jennie; brother Arthur (yarn spinner). His mother had borne 12 children but 3 had died.

With respect to his possible relationship to Albert LOVEDAY, the Army Form 5080, in which his mother entered all living full blood relatives alive on 12th September 1919 lists herself, his father, brothers William [37] and Arthur [26] at 67 Burton End, brother George [44] at Weavers Row and John [33] in Braintree. His sisters are Lily LOVEDAY [41] in Mill Road, and Martha MAYES at Chauntry Road. This can give a connection to Albert LOVEDAY, but still the marriage registration has not been identified for Lily MARSH and Henry LOVEDAY ??

His sister Martha however did marry Arthur, brother of James MAYES in 1910 see here

The Cambridge Independent Press of 17th December 1915 reported :-
Haverhill Soldier Killed
-Another Haverhill soldier has fallen in action. This time it is Pte.Percy Marsh, of the King's Royal Rifles,son of Mr.F. Marsh of 67 Burton End, Haverhill. Mr. Marsh had five sons in the Army, and the deceased, who had been wounded earlier int he war, was the youngest. The official intimation of his death reads as follows:-
"In further reply to your inquiry of the 8th November 1915, I am commanded by the Army Council to inform you that No. 5075, Pte.Percy Marsh, of the King's Royal Rifles, has now been reported in a casualty list which has reached this office as having been killed in action on the 25th September 1915, at the battle of Loos.He was buried by men of the Royal Lancaster Regiment. I am to express the sympathy of the Army Council with the soldier's relatives ".

The South West Suffolk Echo of 11th December 1915 reported that:-
"5075 Pte Percy Marsh, of the King's Royal Rifles was killed in action on 25th. September in the Battle of Loos. He was the son of Mr. F. Marsh, of 67, Burton End."

He enlisted in London at 38 New Kent Road in the King's Royal Rifles, on 11th August 1914, giving his age as 19 years 230 days, a labourer born in Haverhill, living at 22 Carter Lane, London. He was 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm)tall, weighed 106 lbs (48.2 kg), chest 32" to 34" (81.3 to 86.4cm). His parent Frederick and Mary Ann Marsh of 67 Burton End, Haverhill were his next of kin.
Sent initially to Winchester for the 11th Battalion, Rifle Brigade No.S/9486, this posting was cancelled on 21st September and he became 5/5095 in the King's Royal Rifles. Some parts of the Army, despite documentary evidence dispute his initial enlistment. Unfortunately much of his service record is too damaged or washed out to be legible.
He had been wounded previously, which had healed quickly and after 10 days furlough he was returned to unit. He was recorded wounded and missing on 25th September 1915.

The war diary:-
" September 25th - Everything ready for the assault. The gas expert reports wind favourable 4 am.
4:40 am. Zero to be 5:50 am received.
5:50 am Gas turned on and ? firing smoke shell from Stokes Gun (those guns got done in.In one the copper collar burst and charge burst in the other. We got off about 30 rounds between the 2)
6 am The wind changed, all the gas blew back, especially on to "B" Coy -all ranks had smoke helmets on (old pattern ordered to be issued). Consequently much of "B" Coy were gassed if not all very bad but it put them out of action. Reported to Bde, ordered to attack at 6:34 am. Wind got better at 6:20 am and gas turned on again. 6:34 am Battn got out and moved forward to the assault. Battn HQ with the Battn, could see nothing for smoke and gas between the lines. Very difficult to find direction, most people choking. On reaching the wire it was discovered that it had not been cut, being low and wide.
On the left of the Battn troops started to go back. This left the Battn as there was a gap of 500 yds to our right unattacked (sic).The battn had to fall back. A rally was made on the left and we went forward again. Gas from the 15th Div drifted up to us and it was necessary to go back to our own 1st line.On the right the 15th Div got through and could be seen streaming through LOOS to Hill 70. On the left in the 7th Div. area the German line was taken -there was then only the unbroken gap in front of 2nd Bde.
7:56 am received orders that Northants and 2/Sussex would go through us, also L M Lancs. Nothing came of this attack
12 noon the Gloucesters (3 Bde reserve) ordered to advance by southern sap and bomb north up German trench, in conjunction we opened frontal fireand the Germans surrendered.
3:30pm Bde advance ordered, Gloucesters were advancing on BOIS HUGO "Greens Force (9/Kings and London Scottish) in support, 2 Bde in reserve.
BOIS HUGO, CHALK PIT and PUITS 14 bis., the Bde objectives reached by 4:40 pm. Line taken up as follows below

Rained all night.Men dug in awfully well. Casualties during 25th Officers 8 wounded, 3 killed, 1 sick from gas. OR approx 100 killed, 250 wounded, 237 missing (suffering from gas probably"

A long entry but it shows the hazards of using gas by either side.CWGC have the total number killed as 101, only 9 with known graves.

photo: Rodney Gibson

Percy Marsh is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Dud Corner, panels 101 and 102

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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