PERKIN, Philip Kenneth

Perkin, PKSecond Lieutenant, “A2 Coy, 12th Bn., York and Lancaster Regiment

Born

February 1894.
Son of Mr. Emil Scales Perking A.R.C.A. and his wife Isabell Lilian of Endgate, Tiverton.

Education

Blundell's School, from the age of 10 yrs 11 months as a “Day Boy”; January 1905 – Summer 1910.

Service

At the outbreak of war he was shortly about to take an important post in the firm of Messrs. Huttons of Sheffield but offered his services to his country instead.

Trench Diaries

The 12th Bn. York and Lancaster Regiment were part of 94th Brigade, 31st Division. Moved from Bois de Warnicourt on 30th June 1916 and took up assembly positions for an attack on Serre. Going forward on 1st July to the left of 94th Brigade’s attack but most of the battalion were pinned down in No-mans-land. A few men reached the German front lines but by nightfall the brigade had withdrawn to Roland Trench.

Death

1st July 1916, aged 22.
At daybreak on the first day of the battle of the Somme and whilst with the second wave of an attack he was sent on to command the first. Twice wounded he continued to advance and when unable to continue was left. A private in his company reported that they advanced to the German barbed wire in front of their first line. [P K Perkin] “...was well out in front of his men and was using his revolver and shouting encouragement to them and at the same time trying to work his way through the wire when a hand bomb burst close to him. He reeled and half fell but most pluckily pulled himself together for another effort but another bomb burst which brought him down. Immediately afterwards another bomb exploded which took two pieces out of my leg and peppered me generally and I know nothing beyond this. [he] would have been not more than two or three yards from the German trenches and it is possible that he would have been taken in by them after nightfall.” The officer commanding the regiment however, in his letter to Perkin’s family was less optimistic “The report that your son was wounded was from one of our own wounded who crawled back later, the only hope is that he was taken prisoner but I pray that you put not to put much reliance on this. A few of our men got to the enemy’s third line but as the enemy, to his eternal disgrace, shot our wounded as they lay in the open. I fear the worst for all our missing.” The chaplain also wrote to Mr. Perkin “I think that there is little doubt that your brave young son was killed... So much is said of our brave soldiers that some of the force may be lost when applied to individuals. His calmness and coolness were unique... His confidence and courage were infectious and you cannot realise what a blessing this is to others in this difficult time out here. He was last seen sitting on the German line calling his men on. Many of our wounded told me with admiration what he was doing and that he was shot in the head by a machine gun. We are all very sad about it. I cannot tell you officially that he was killed, we do not know, but that is the general opinion, his men saw him fall and spoke of him with pride. I am glad to have known your happy son, I shall always remember his cheery soul in connection with this part of my life and if I am spared to continue my ministry in England, I will remember him in my home church.” He was reported missing in 1916 and in 1917 declared to have been killed.

Burial/Commemoration

Pillar 14, face A or B.
Theipval Memorial to the missing, Theipval, Somme.

 

Memorial

Theipval Memorial is on the D73, off the Main Bapaume to Albert (D929). The Memorial, 150 feet high, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and can be seen from many of the battle sites in the surrounding area.  It has sixteen piers on whose faces the names of all the men who have no known grave are inscribed. An excellent interpretation centre has been built nearby with research facilities and an “on line” memorial to the missing which contains much valuable information.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The National Archives, Public Records Office, Kew  WO 339/41084
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 25/490
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No.5041
“The Blundellian”, July 1916 p 248 and February 1917, p 283
Field visit (JEA & GRY 28/7/2006)

 

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