Corporal 14043 Percy Henry Neale
1st Btn. Norfolk Regiment
10/12/1894 - 23/4/1917
Percy Henry Neale is not listed on the War Memorial in Station Road but he is remembered on the Think and Thank Screen in the church and also on the Roll of Honour.
He was born in Stibbard on 10th December 1894 the eldest son of 8 surviving children of Alfred John and Mary Jane Neale. The family moved to Ryburgh around 1898/9 and lived at No 1 Bridge Cottages. Percy is listed as No 17 in the new school registers where it says he was admitted to the school on Jan 15th 1899 and left on the 9th October 1908 for employment: “gardens”
Could this be Percy or one of his brothers standing outside
No1 Bridge Cottages?
Percy died in 1917 a month after Robert William Barker who was his neighbour at No 3 Bridge Cottages. His father Alfred John Neale was a boiler-smith at the Ryburgh Farmers' Foundry and when Percy enlisted he was working as an Iron Moulder alongside his father at the Foundry.
His Service Record survives in the “burnt records” and tells us:
He enlisted in Norwich on 2nd September 1914 for 3 years “unless the War lasts longer in which case you will be retained until the War is over.” At least one other Ryburgh lad enlisted that same day and sadly he too died. See Ernest Thomson's page
The following day, 3/9/14, he went to Walton Station to start his training
He was 5’ 91/2” tall and weighed 128 lbs with blue eyes and brown hair.
During training, he spent 8 days in hospital in Felixtowe from 20th Feb -3rd March 1915
He went to France for the first time on May 5th.1915 and had two short spells admitted to 14 Field Ambulance in Dec 1915 with 7 days furlough following in mid January 1916 and again to15 Field Ambulance in April 1916 with a further 7 days furlough (in Ryburgh) in the last week in May. Promotion followed the following month when he was made an unpaid L/Cpl and being paid for the privilege at the end July 1916. He was made up to “substantive” Corporal in November that year.
The Service Record reads as follows
Wounded in Action 22/4/1917
Admitted G.(un)S.(hot)W.(ound) fract.(ure) Right Thigh 23/4/1917
Died from wounds received in action 23/4/1917
11 Canada Field Ambulance France.
This Unit had been in France since August 11th 1916 and their War Diary has the following entry for Monday April 23rd 1917:
"Patients from 5th Division received from Dingwall Tunnel and Hospital Corner...............
Wounded from 5th Division operations brought to the M.(ain)D.(ressing)S.(tation)"
Percy had been at the 5th Divisional School from 26th. November to 15th. December 1916
The inventory of his personal effects is as follows:
1 Religious Book
1 Ingersoll wrist watch & Security strap leather belt,
1 Rate book
1 cigarette case
2 letter cases
2 news cuttings
1 Pocket Comb
The under-mentioned articles were dispatched to the address as stated overleaf 5/10/17:
Belt, Photos, Letter, Cigarette case, cards, 1 religious book, 1 wrist watch, 1 card 2 wallets , 2 note books.
His mother had been drawing 7/4d ( Frequency unknown) as part of his pay and separation allowance. She was subsequently a staunch supporter of the Church Memorial and an active collector of donations
His father was notified of his death on May 2nd 1917 and it was reported in the Dereham and Fakenham Times on May 12th:
On completion on May 22nd. 1919, of his Army Form, W/5080 listing all the relatives of a deceased soldier, his 4 brothers Horace, John, Edgar and Edmund were living at home and his sisters Doris in Bossington in Somerset, Enid in North End Hampstead and Elsie in Golders Green. This was certified by the Revd F.H. Tatham who later writes on his parent’s behalf in August 1920 trying to find out what happened to his 1915 Star, British War and Victory medals. The reply to him says that they were not yet ready for issue and that when they were, they would be sent to his mother at Bridge Cottages
He was buried at Villers-au-Bois Station Military Cemetery
Ryburgh Parish Magazine June 1917
The past month has been a sad one for Ryburgh. Three of our "boys" have laid down their lives for us at the Front, namely Frederick John Bone, Walter Fenn and Percy Neale, and to their relatives, and in this I feel sure I voice the feelings of you all, when I extend to them our very deepest sympathy.
Percy Neale was intimately connected with the Church all the time I have been here. In the choir as a boy and later on still sustaining his part there after his voice broke. He was confirmed before I came, but was always a quiet unobtrusive and regular communicant. He made his communion quietly here on a week-day on May 23rd 1916 just before leaving for France, after a short furlough at home.He died of wounds received in France on S. George's Day (April 23rd.) and was buried in a cemetery there. May they rest in peace
The entry in the margin of F.H.Tatham's Preacher's book now held by the Norfolk Record Office as part of the Ryburgh Parish Documents.
Again, in the above Preacher's book, recording the date of the Requiem Mass for Percy Neale. No further Requiem's for Ryburgh's dead soldiers were recorded after Percy's death.