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Percy Peck: Tuesday 6th November 1917

Percy enlisted in Putney probably first as Private 272820 in the Army Service Corp.  At some point, he either transferred or was discharged and re-enlisted as Private 36723 with the 5th Batt. Essex Regiment.  It is not possible to say how Percy died but he was killed in action of 6 November 1917 and a study of the Battalion Regimental history for the day he died gives a good idea of what his battalion were doing and what may have happened to him.

The Essex Regiment were stationed in the Middle East, as they were in WW2.  The 5th Batt fought the third Battle of Gaza which penetrated and broke the enemy defence system from Gaza to Beersheba and became a prelude to victory in Palestine and Syria.  The enemy, in this case, was the Ottoman Empire who were German allies.  This is still an area in turmoil today.  At 11 pm on 5 November the men were given a hot meal and a pint of beer.  This was eaten to the roar of Turkish artillery fire.  The men moved to their assembly point and by 2:30 am on Tuesday 6th November 1917 silence reigned and all was ready for the attack.  Tanks went in at 2:55 am and the men deployed soon after.  The moon had disappeared, the light was bad and they had to rely on compasses for direction.  Within half hour a runner indicated that notwithstanding Turkish resistance the enemy front line was in British hands.  Many Turkish soldiers had come out of their trenches and were lying in front of the trenches and “met the Essex men with bayonets”.  At the end of the day 2 Officers and 73 other ranks were killed, 9 missing and 262 wounded.  It is likely that Percy was among those lost.  He does not have a known grave and is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial.

Percy was born in Tooting and was probably the son of Amos and Madeleine Mary Peck of 47 Wandle Road. In 1901 they had six children, Minnie (17, blouse machinist), Edward (16), Ernest (14), Percy (12), William (9), and Ethel (6). Amos had died by the end of the war and had been a furnace stoker for a chemical works. Percy had married Winifred Ada and they lived at 23 Stanley St., South Lambeth.