MENDHAM, Percy George

No. G/40933, Private, Percy George MENDHAM
Aged 18

4th Battalion, Duke of Cambridgeshire's Own (Middlesex Regiment)
formerly No.14640, 8th Bn., Royal West Kent Regiment
Killed in Action presumed on Tuesday, 31st July 1917

Percy George MENDHAM was born in Mildenhall in 1898 (Mildenhall Q3-1898 4A:851), son of Robert James and Emma Mary MENDHAM (née FULLER).

1901 census...Aged 4, he was at Main Street, West Row with his father Robert Mendham [37] a shepherd born Barton Mills; his mother Emma [32] born Exning; brothers Robert [11] born Snailwell and William [7] born Soham; sisters Florence [9] born Soham and Ellen [1] born Mildenhall.

His father died in 1908.

1911 census... Aged 14, a shepherd, he was in West Row with his widowed mother, sister Ellen; brothers William (farm labourer) and Albert [8] born Mildenhall. One sibling had died.

His elder brother William died in France exactly 2 months earlier see here

and brother Robert died in WW2, in 1940 see here

L/14196 Private John Parr of the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment is believed to be the first British casualty of the war.

The 4th Middlesex were part of 63rd Brigade, 37th Division on the first day of 3rd Ypres, forever to be known as Passchendaele. Thousands of words have been written about this battle. Suffice it to say here that the 4th Middlesex objective was July Farm in the battle for Pilkem Ridge. The whole operation was hardly likely to have surprised the Germans since over 4 million shells were fired by the Allies in the ten days before the 31st July 1917. One unwanted consequence of this was when one of the wettest periods on record commenced to fill the shell holes, leaving no where for the troops to hide and drowning untold numbers.
Such was the horror of the whole episode that it is calculated the Allies had 300,000 casualties, 35 men per metre gained. German losses were probably not much different. Sadly the very next spring all the ground gained was retaken by the Germans.

CWGC records that the 4th Middlesex had 70 men killed this first day of the battle, not one has an identified grave.

The Bury Free Press of 15th September 1917 reported :-

We understand that Mrs. R.Mendham,of West Row, has received the unsettling news that her third son, Prvt P.G.Mendham, of the 4th Middlesex Regiment has been officially reported as missing since July 31st. Prvt Mendham was but a load of 20. He was well known in West Row and the adjoining villages and was well liked. His widowed mother has the sympathy of the whole village in this additional trouble which has befallen her, for it was only on May 31st of this year that she lost her second son, Lance Corpl W.E.Mendham.If by any chance a soldier comrade could furnish her with any news of her missing son she would, needless to say, be extremely grateful.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Percy Mendham is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres panels 49 and 51
and also on the war memorial in Mildenhall

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