Private 82045 Percy Harrington

Killed in Action on Saturday, 20th October 1917, age 20.
Commemorated on Panel 154 to 159 and 163A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 53rd Company. 18th Division.

Son of Albert Henry and Mary Harrington, of 23, Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/838574/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Percy Harrington registered September quarter 1897 in Dudley.

1901 Census
8 Ann Street, Kendal, Cumberland.
Albert Harrington (a visitor in the house, 35, Railway Telegraph Clerk, born Buckinghamshire), his wife Mary (29, born Stainton, Cumberland), and their son: Percy (3, born Tipton).

1911 Census
23 Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Albert Harrington (39, Railway Clerk, born Stantonbury, Bucks), his wife Mary (44, born Stainton, Cumberland), and 2 of their 3 children: Percy (13, School, born Tipton), and Mabel (9, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Percy attested on 9th December 1915 under the Derby Scheme. He was posted to the Army Reserve until called up on 29th August 1916. He was slight, 5 feet 6 inches tall with a 31-inch chest, and weighed 96 pounds. Under defects it was noted "underweight" and "chest", his physical development was described as "fair".

Prior to enlistment, Percy was employed as a clerk for the London and North West Railway Company, and is commemorated on the Wolverhampton Railway Station memorial, see: www.wolverhamptonwarmemorials.org.uk/memorial_pages/Works/wolverhampton_railway_station.htm. As an employee of the London & North West Railways, Percy's name is also included on their Roll of Honour commemorating their 3,726 employees who lost their lives in the Great War.

Percy was posted to 4th South Staffs on 4th September 1916, and transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on 5th December 1916. He arrived in France on 14th May 1917, and was allocated to the 53rd Company, Machine Gun Corps on 24th May 1917, part of 53rd brigade of 18th (Eastern) Division.

After Percy's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £0/7/10d (7 shillings and 10 pence); this was paid to his father, Albert H., in February 1918. His War Gratuity was £4/0/0d (4 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Percy had enlisted in September 1916.

Action resulting in his death

According to a letter from an officer of the Machine Gun Corps, Percy was "killed by a shell instantaneously and suffered no pain". The officer gave the date of death as 19th October, whereas the Commonwealth War Graves records his death on 20th October.

The 19th/20th October was between the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele, but the artillery bombardments were relentless. Percy was originally buried at 'Maison du Rasta', which was a pillbox north of St Julien and south of Langemarck. His grave was subsequently lost and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald November 17th 1917
A memorial service was held in the Parish Church on Sunday evening for Private Percy Harrington, aged 20, late of the Machine Gun Corps, who was killed in action on October 19th. The Tipton Ambulance Company and the Boy Scouts attended. There was a large congregation. Wreaths were sent by the family, his fiancée, his Uncle and Aunt, Mr Watkins and family, Mr Devis and family, his fellow communicants, and members of the Vicar's Bible Class at St. Martin's. The bells were rung half-muffled. Before the service, the organist (Mr G.E. Banner) played "O Rest in the Lord". The processional hymn was "Peace, Perfect Peace". The Rev F.N. Fletcher took the service. Before the address, "The Christian's Good Night" was sung as a solo and quartette and full. The solo was beautifully sung by a junior chorister, Norman Saddler.
The Rev. W.T. deVine spoke from the words " Jesus beholding him loved him," saying the gallant boy was similar in character to the young man in the gospel, and in tracing his life from school to "service," he showed that Harrington had done more than the young ruler, in that the accepted the sacrifice laid before him for the country, and those he loved - for the cause of justice and right - and he had surrendered his life.
The family have the sympathy of the congregation and a large circle of friends.
The Lieutenant of the Company wrote to the deceased's mother as follow:- "It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son, Private P. Harrington, on the 19th October. He was killed by a shell instantaneously and suffered no pain. We were able to bury him in a military cemetery, the exact location of which I will be pleased to send you when these particular operations have ceased. He was a great and gallant boy, loved by his comrades, and his loss is deeply felt by us all. The officers and all who served with him send to you their sincerest sympathy in your great bereavement."