Percy Henry Towill
Memorial: Downend - Christ Church
Regiment: Australian Infantry
Rank and number: Private 2438/A
Parents: Elias William and Mary Jane Towill (nee Smith)
Marital status: Single
Home address: Keswick, Adelaide, Australia
Pre-war occupation: Builder's Draughtsman
Date of birth: 1891
Place of birth: The Lodge, Cleeve Wood, Overndale Road, Downend, Bristol
Date of death: 05/10/1917
Buried/Commemorated at: Perth Cemetery (China Wall, Plot VIII. Row B. Grave No. 20), West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Percy Henry Towill was the middle of four children born to parents Elias and Mary Jane Towill. He was baptised on 6th January 1892 at Christ Church, Downend. Some time after 1911 he emigrated to Australia and later enlisted at Keswick, Adelaide on 17th May 1915. After five months training his Unit embarked from Adelaide, on 31st October 1915 on board His Majesty's Australian Troopship A32 'Themistocles'. On 12th January 1916 he was taken on the strength of the 27h Battalion, 5th Reinforcements, Australian Infantry, at Tel-el-Kabir and allotted number 2438. On 16th March Percy proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force at Alexandria on 16th March. His Unit then sailed for Marseilles, disembarking there on 21st March and transferred as part of the Australian Infantry Force to take part in the fighting along the Western Front in France and Belgium; he entered the front-line for the first time on 7th April 1916 with the Australians taking over a quiet sector near Armentieres. On 14th June Percy wrote his Will inside his pay book leaving his personal estate to his mother.
On 5th May 1917 Percy was wounded in action but remained on duty. He was given furlough to the UK from 22nd July until he re-joined his Unit on 3rd August when he was then transferred to the 7th Brigade Signals. Although he is recorded as being killed on 5th October an eye witness report by 2371 Private Hart states that Towill was actually killed on 4th October while at Zonnebeke, Ypres, by an exploding shell and was killed outright. He was on a ration fatigue party taking rations up to the front line near the north east corner of Zonnebeke Church. Private Hart was on the same ration party himself and knew Percy well. Percy was not buried up to the time his section left the front line. Percy's bronze Memorial Plaque (or Dead Man's Penny) was sent to his mother on 23rd September 1922. He is also commemorated on Panel 111 of the National War Memorial, South Australia. His death was the 72nd soldier recorded on the 352nd Casualty List of the Australian Red Cross Society. In addition to his parents, Percy Towill advised that his other next of kin was his uncle Mr Joseph Towill of 43, Phillis Street, Maylands, Perth, Australia.
Commemorated on the Christ Church Downend Memorial and the Staple Hill (Page Park) Memorial.
By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Select Church of England Parish Registers, UNSW University, Australian Government Archives, UK Censuses, FreeBMD, Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force Nominal Roll, WW1.collections.gov.au, David Blackmore – Mangotsfield Residents Association