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War Memorials

In Memory of
Pioneer 25901
16th Battn/Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who Died of Wounds on Saturday 11th August 1917
Age 19

Buried Plot II Row Q Grave 5A
Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

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

Wimereux Communal Cemetery

Percy Turner was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in 18982. Although he was brought up as the son of John & Hannah (née Bullock) Turner, he appears to have been their grandson, the son of one of their children, in all probability, the son of Annie May Turner, their daughter3. In 1901, John and Hannah and their family, including Annie who was the aged 28 and Percy, on this occasion described as their grandson, aged 3, were living at 30 Market Street, Ilkeston. Annie was then trading from that address as a photographer, probably continuing a business started by her parents4. Both John and Hannah died in 1908, after which their unmarried adult children continued to live as a household at 32 Albion House, Ilkeston, with Annie as housekeeper and Percy, then aged 13, described as her brother5. After leaving school. Percy found work in the lace trade in Beeston and, by the outbreak of war in August 1914, he was living at 56 Nether Street, Beeston.

Percy enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment on 7 May 1915 at the age of only 17 - although he declared his age as 197. He joined the 16th Service) Battalion, known as the Chatsworth Rifles, a battalion that had been formed at Derby on 16 April 1915, by the Duke of Devonshire and the Derbyshire Territorial Force Association8.

Training began immediately, at first in Buxton, Derbyshire, before moving to Redmires, near Sheffield in early June. This area is known to have been used to teach trainees the techniques of digging trenches9. In September, they came under the orders of 117th Brigade in 39th Division, moving to Hursley Park, near Winchester. They moved to Witley Camp, near Godalming in Surrey in late 1915.

On 7th March 1916, Private Turner left Southampton with the battalion and landed at Le Havre, France in heavy snow. After a brief period of trench familiarisation they soon saw action and began to incur the inevitable casualties. In June 1916 and continuing into July they were part of battles at Ferme du Bois, near Richeboug which had been ordered as a diversionary attack to attempt to draw the enemy away from the Battle of the Somme which was launched on 1 July. In total, the battalion was in the front line trenches here for a total of 35 days, engaged continuously with the enemy, with two officers and 12 other ranks killed and four officers and 85 other ranks wounded. In September, they incurred heavy casualties while in action at Beaumont Hamel. In October they were in action in the Thiepval sector and again incurred heavy casualties against enemy positions. There was more action in November when the battalion attacked and captured St Pierre Divion as part of the Battle of the Ancre. Action by the battalion continued in 1917 although, at the end of February, Private Turner was, for some reason, posted to England. He returned to France and rejoined the battalion at the front on 9 June 1917. By this date, the battalion was in trenches around Villers Guislans and continued to carry out various operations over the next two months. It seems likely that it was on 13th July, when the battalion incurred 23 casualties countering an enemy raid in the Epehy area, that Private Turner was wounded and moved through the medical evacuation chain to one of the military hospitals at Wimereux in the Pas de Calais. He died from his wounds on 11th August and was buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery10.

Wimereux is a small town situated about five kilometres north of Boulogne. From October 1914 onwards, Boulogne and Wimereux formed an important hospital centre and until June 1918, the medical units at Wimereux used the communal cemetery for burials, the south-eastern half having been set aside for Commonwealth graves, although a few burial were also made among the civilian graves. By June 1918, this half of the cemetery was filled, and subsequent burials from the hospitals at Wimereux were made in the new military cemetery at Terlincthun. The cemetery contains 2,847, Commonwealth burials of the First World War, two of them unidentified. Buried among them is Lt-Col. John McCrae, author of the poem "In Flanders Fields". There are also five French and a plot of 170 German war graves. There are also 14 Second World War burials, six of them unidentified.11.

Private Turner was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal and the British Medal12. His Army financial effects of 12 16s were paid to Annie May Turner (described as his 'sister'), as his sole legatee, on 9 November 1917. His War Gratuity of 10 was paid to Annie May Turner, on the same basis, on 18 December 191913. Annie May appears to have remained single and to have remained in Beeston, living on Trafalgar Road14.

1The photograph of Wimereux Communal Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (which then included Ilkeston) in Q4 1897 (Ref 7b 186)
3He was recorded consistently as Annie's sister except in the 1901 census when he is recorded as her parents' grandson. As Annie's mother would have been aged 57 when he was born, he would not have been her son. Annie continued to be described as Percy's brother when she received his Army financial effects and Gratuity under the terms of his soldier's will and in the CWGC records. Sight of his birth certificate would probably clarify this confusion.
41891 Census, Piece 3152 Folio 12. John and Hannah were trading as photographers in Swadlincote, Derbyshire at the time of the 1881 census.
51911 Census, Piece 20414 RD429 SD2 ED23 Sched 315.
7Details of his enlistment and deployment are from his Army Service Record (available in ancestry.com). This records his Nether Street, Beeston address.
8Details of 16th Battalion's formation and early deployment is from the Notts & Derby site (www.nottsandderby.co.uk/Notts___Derby/notts___derby.html) and The Long Long Trail site (www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-derbyshire-regiment/).
9The site at Redmires was the subject of archaeological surveys between 1999 and 2006, by students from The Institute of Lifetime Learning, University of Sheffield. Their comprehensive report can be found at www.pals.org.uk/sheffield/redmires.pdf
10This account of 16th Battalion's action in France and Belgium during 1916 and 1917 is a summary of its war diary (available on ancestry.com).
11This description of Wimereux Communal Cemetery is based on that included in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
12Private Turner's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card and on the Medal Roll, available on ancestry.com.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
14Annie May Turner went on to live at 59 Trafalgar Road, Beeston where she is recorded in the 1921 Electoral Roll. The 1930 Electoral Roll and a 1935 Street Directory record someone apparently of the same name at 65 Trafalgar Road.
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