Private 9890 Percy Allen Bourne

 Bourne Percy 96 452x600

Killed in Action on Monday, 14th September 1914, age 27.
Buried in Grave IV. E. 7. at Vendresse British Cemetery, Aisne, France.

2nd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 5th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Birmingham.

First landed France & Flanders, 26th August 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/322973/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Percy Bourne registered June quarter 1887 at Stafford.

1891 Census
living at Shirleywich, Weston upon Trent.
Frederick Bourne (39, Salt Maker, born Droitwich), his wife Harriet Bourne (36, born Kingswinford), and their 6 children: Frederick John (15, General Labourer, born Ocker Hill, Staffs), Alice Harriet (12, born Droitwich), Albert William Harriet (9, born Droitwich), George Henry (7, born Droitwich), Percy Allen (3, born Weston, Staffordshire) and David Thomas (1, born Weston, Staffordshire).

1901 Census
97 Lower Dartmouth Street, Bordesley, Birmingham.
Frederick Bourne (50, General Labourer, born Droitwich), his wife Harriet (46, Shopkeeper - Huckster, born Kingswinford), and their 5 children: George Henry (18, Metal Roller, born Droitwich), Percy Allen (14, Brass Filer, born Droitwich), David Thomas (10, born Stafford), Lillie (10, born Bewdley), Arthur (6, born Birmingham).

1911 Census
Bareilly, United Provinces, India. (G & H Companies, 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment).
Percy Bourne, age 24, Private, born Birmingham, Warwickshire.

Personal Data

Percy's connection with Tipton is difficult to see even though 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' says that he was born in Tipton. His birth was registered in Stafford, and the census entries say he was born either in Weston (near Stafford), or Droitwich, or Birmingham. The only obvious connection is that his eldest brother, Frederick, was born in Ocker Hill.

According to Percy's entry in "Soldier's Effects", he had enlisted with the Worcesters on 20th April 1906 when he would have been 18 or 19 years old, and was employed as a 'Caster'. This records that he had been born in Tipton - confirming 'Soldiers Died in the Great War', but contradicting the Census entries.

After Percy's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £4/9/0d (4 pounds and 9 shillings); this was paid to his father, Frederick, in December 1914. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in June 1919. We know that Percy was a serving soldier at the outbreak of war.

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Battalion Worcesters (2/Worcs) were amongst the first of the British Expeditionary Force to face the Germans at Mons, coming into the line on 24th August 1914. It quickly became obvious that the Germans far outnumbered the BEF, and a withdrawal was necessary to avoid an overwhelming defeat.

The German advance through Belgium and France was halted at the Battle of the Marne - "the Miracle of the Marne", on 7th to 12th September 1914. The Germans then retreated until they re-formed on the heights of the northern slopes above the River Aisne. Here on the 14th September the Germans began to dig in, and even made counter-attacks; this can be considered the start of the Western Front trench systems.

On 13th September, the 2/Worcs crossed the River Aisne and, after the Brigade occupied Verneuil and Moussy, the 2/Worcs were ordered to occupy the spur above Tilleul which they did by 10pm.

On the next day, the 14th, the Worcesters were to hold their position, and the King’s Royal Rifle Corps passed through to continue the advance. This drew an increase in German artillery fire which had started at 6am. The advance came to a halt around noon, and a German counter-attack forced them back to the 2/Worcs line where rapid fire halted the German counter-attack.

Fighting continued in the early afternoon, with heavy shelling and several small attacks by each side. By 3pm the enemy could be seen withdrawing and the Division was ordered to follow up. This advance saw no serious opposition, but they passed dead and wounded from the earlier advance.

By 9pm, they had crossed the Chemin des Dames, but no contact could be made with other units on their flanks. As strong forces of the enemy were discovered, and to avoid the possibility of the encirclement, the advancing forces were withdrawn back to the Tilleul spur.

On 14th September, the 2/Worcs had 16 men killed, amongst them Percy Bourne. Most of these men have no known grave and are commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, but Percy is now buried in Vendresse British Cemetery.

Percy was originally buried in Verneuil Chateau Military Cemetery, a dressing station had been opened in the Chateau around midday on 14th September. The Worcesters Burial Register (held at the regimental archives) says that Percy’s body was found "in a wood on the western slopes of the Beauline spur in the Bois de Brules, Verneuil."

All the graves at Verneuil were exhumed and re-buried at Vendresse, the relevant CWGC Burial Return is dated 7th May 1924.

Newspaper Cuttings