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War Memorials

In Memory of
2nd Lieutenant
A Coy. 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Who died on Sunday, 7th April 1918
Age 30

Plot VI Row A Grave 27
Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 1

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Doullens Communal Cemetery

Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 11

Percy Hewitt Peadon was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire in 18882, the eldest of four children of Frank Mitchell Peadon (b. c1865, Nottingham) and his wife Rhoda (b. c1866, Nottingham, née Hewitt). By 1901, after previously living in Long Eaton and Nottingham, the family had moved to live at East Gate (now Park Road), Chilwell, Notts with Frank working as a lace maker3. By 1911, the family had moved to 36 Clinton Street, Beeston with Frank continuing to work as a Levers lace maker and Percy, now age 20, working as a lace draughtsman4.

In 1912, Percy married Louisa Gertrude Ellington, the daughter of Charles William & Mary Louisa who had moved to Beeston by 1898, apparently for the job opportunities at the Humber factory. In 1901 the family was living at 56 Mona Street5. By 1911, they had moved to Nottingham, probably after the Humber factory closed in Beeston in 1908, where Charles had found a job as a timekeeper in a hosiery factory and Louisa and some of her sisters were working as net finishers. Percy & Louis set up home at 5 Park Street, Long Eaton and their first daughter, Rhoda Mary, was born in September 1913 and their second, Joyce Gertrude, followed in January 1918.6.

Although his Service Record has not survived and we do not know the exact date that Percy enlisted, it was clearly very early in the war as, after training, he arrived in France on 26 January 1915. to join 2nd Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment7. The battalion had landed in France in September 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force and had immediately encountered bitter fighting on the Aisne. On 20th September, when carried out a counter attack to plug a gap in the British lines, there were very heavy casualties - 17 out of 22 officers and 214 out of 930 other ranks. Then, after reinforcements had arrived, it again took heavy casualties in October at Ennettiere - 16 officers and 710 other ranks - while holding a vastly superior German force for 48 hours. This then was the perhaps disconcerting background that Private Peadon could not fail to have in his mind as he arrived early in the new year.

Having lost so many men, the battalion needed some time to reorganise and Private Peadon would have been part of that, with trench training a regular feature. In July the Battalion moved to Hooge, about four kilometres to the east of Ypres where, shortly before, a mine had been successfully detonated beneath the enemy, creating a huge crater and much disruption of the enemy lines. However, the enemy hit back hard and there were many casualties. It was then that the enemy used flamethrowers for the first time, which terrified the men greatly. Heavy attacks by the enemy, were met by counter-attacks which were largely unsuccessful and, although the line was held, the Chateau and crater fell into the hands of the enemy.

As winter set-in, the battalion spent much of its time in the trenches as part of the war of attrition and stand-off it had now become. Heavy rain and cold temperatures brought dreadful conditions in the trenches, where the men were sometimes up to their knees in mud and water. Spasmodic shelling and gunfire continued throughout this these months and there were casualties on most days - and sickness too as the conditions took their toll8.

In July 1916, on the Somme, of course, the major offensive was on-going and there had been major setbacks and losses there. Further actions were expected and reinforcements would be required and the battalion spent virtually the whole of that month in intensive training for these roles. Early in August, the battalion was part of reinforcements that were provided, seeing action around Beaumont Hamel and spending days burying the many dead they had found in front of and behind the trenches they took over. From mid-September, the battalion took part in a diversionary attack at Guillemont, incurring heavy casualties - 9 officers and about 50% of the men - when orders became confused. The remainder of the month was spent supporting other battalions in the front line and taking reinforcements against a background of deteriorating weather. Over the month as a whole the battalion had lost 23 officers and 631 other ranks, sick, killed, wounded and missing. Replacements totally 12 officers and 529 men arrived. 7 Officers and 14 Other Ranks were recommended for gallantry awards. The battalion was involved in various actions throughout October against a background of worsening conditions on the battlefield where cold and flooding combining to create conditions which tested human endurance to the limit.

In 1917, Private Peadon applied for a Commission and the timing of the birth of his second daughter indicates that he was granted some home leave in the Spring of that year. His Commission was granted on 28 August 1917 and he then joined 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, serving with "A" Company, one of three officers who joined the battalion on 17th October with more following over the next several days9. Sadly, he was not to see his second daughter.

At the beginning of March 1918 enemy positions had been strangely quite and there was a general belief that a major German attack was to be expected at any time Then, on 21st March, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The objective was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. The German advance was preceded, starting at 4am, by a very heavy bombardment which included gas shells and advancing attack gained ground. In early April, 9th Battalion was in the front line near Gommecourt and, on the 5th it was heavily attacked at 5.30am after a dark, wet night. They resisted bravely against considerable machine-gun fire and took about 150 prisoners and inflicted a similar number of casualties but, being outnumbered, were forced to fall back. 2nd Lieutenant Peadon was amongst those wounded by machine gun fire. Sadly, he died shortly afterwards10.

2nd Lieutenant Peadon is buried in the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No 1. Doullens, a town in the Department of the Somme, about 30 kilometres north of Amiens and about 20 kilometres west of the position where he fell. It was Marshal Foch's headquarters early in the First World War and the scene of the conference in March 1918, after which he assumed command of the Allied armies on the Western Front. From the summer of 1915 to March 1916, Doullens was a junction between the French Tenth Army on the Arras front and the Commonwealth Third Army on the Somme. The citadelle, overlooking the town from the south, was a French military hospital, and the railhead was used by both armies. In March 1916, Commonwealth forces succeeded the French on the Arras front and the 19th Casualty Clearing Station came to Doullens, followed by the 41st, the 35th and the 11th. By the end of 1916, these had given way to the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital (which stayed until June 1918) and the 2/1st Northumbrian Casualty Clearing Station. From February 1916 to April 1918, these medical units continued to bury in the French extension (No 1) of the communal cemetery. In March and April 1918 the German advance and the desperate fighting on this front threw a severe strain on the Canadian Stationary Hospital. The extension was filled, and a second extension begun on the opposite side of the communal cemetery. In May 1940, Doullens was bombed with Arras and Abbeville before being occupied by the Germans. The Communal Cemetery Extension No 1 contains 1,335 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. There are also seven French and 13 German war graves from this period. Second World War burials number 35, more than half of them men of the Queen's Royal West Kents who died 20/21 May 1940. The Cemetery Extension No 2 contains 374 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, and 87 German war graves. The Communal Cemetery itself contains ten Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. The extensions were designed by Charles Holden.11.

2nd Lieutenant Peadon was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1915 Star12. His Army financial effects of 63 8s 4d were paid to his widow on 8 October 1918 and she also received his War Gratuity of 17 10s on 4 December 191913. In addition to his entry on the main memorial in Beeston Parish Church, he is remembered on a memorial plaque in that church, to Sunday School teachers who died in the Great War.

Both Percy's family and her parents, moved to Beeston between the wars, to live out their lives. Percy's widow, Louisa Gertrude and her daughters continued to live at 5 Park Street, Long Eaton until the mid-1930s when they moved to 8 Carisbrook Avenue, Beeston. She died in October 1967, aged 91. Neither of her daughters married. Rhoda worked as an assistant in a children's clothes shop and died in 1999. Joyce worked as a clerk in the office at Beeston Foundry and died in 1997. Her parents, Charles and Louisa Ellington, retired to live at 22 Clifton Street, Beeston. Percy's parents continued to live at 36 Clinton Street, Beeston although after Rhoda's death in 1950, Frank went to live with his married daughter, Nellie Irene Scarfe at 30 Park Street, Beeston, up to his death in 195514.

1The photograph of the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 1 is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Shardlow Registration District (of which Long Eaton was part) in Q2/1888 (Ref 7b 486). He was baptised at St Lawrence Church, Long Eaton on 29 March 1888.
3Chilwell, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3208 Folio 15
4Beeston, Notts, 1911 Census, Piece 20427 RD429 SD3 ED2 Schedule 101
Percy's siblings were Nellie Irene (b. c1890), Mary Alice ('Pollie') (1892-1902) and Frank Bernard (b. 1894).
5Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 143
6Percy and Louisa were married in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1912 (Ref 7b 700)
Rhoda Mary was born on 9 September 1913 and Joyce Gertrude on 14 January 1918 (Dates recorded on 1939 Registration), in Long Eaton, probably at home at 5 Park Street.
7His attachment to 2nd Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment (as No. 2/17672) and the date he was posted to France are recorded on his medal card (on ancestry.com).
8Details of 2nd battalion's deployment is based on its war diary (available at ancestry.com).
9The date of his Commission is recorded on his medal card. His arrival with 8th Lincolnshires is noted in its war diary (both on ancestry.com).
10His wounding and death is recorded in the battalion war diary (on ancestry.com) on 5 April. However, as his death is officially recorded as on the 7th April it appears that it had been possible to evacuate him to receive appropriate medical treatment, probably to the facilities then based at Doullens. Obituaries placed by his family in the Nottingham Evening Post on 10 April 1918, mention 'multiple gunshot wounds', perhaps indicating that they had been told he had died from machine gun fire.
11This description of the Doullens Communal Cemetery and its extensions is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
12Details from Percy's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com.
13Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
14Family details are from standard genealogical sources, including the September 1939 Registration.
Louisa's brother, Detective Superintendent Percy Richard Collins Ellington (1898-1977) served as Head of the Nottingham City Police CID for many years. Her choice to live at Carisbrooke Avenue may have been influenced by its proximity to her sister Constance's home on Broadgate. By coincidence, Constance married Bertram Hallam, an older brother of the owner of this site's father. While David Hallam did once meet Louisa, he had not known of this tragic family loss before writing this account.

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