Percy Thomas Dash

Memorial: Chipping Sodbury Town Cross - Broad Street

Regiment: Grenadier Guards

Medals: 1914–15 Star, British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 15859

Parents: Thomas and Edith Dash

Home address: The Folly (or Folly House), Chipping Sodbury, Bristol

Date of birth: 1893

Date of death: 29/10/1914

Buried/Commemorated at: Zantwoorde British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Ypres

Age: 21

Further information:

1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards

Percy Dash stood out literally head and shoulders above the rest of the Sodbury men on the Memorial, being well over 6 feet tall. His Grenadiers uniform stood out proud from the others, adding to the very grand impression he created. He was the first among them to be sent to France, and almost immediately the first of them to be killed

Born in the nearby village of Wapley in 1893, he was the eldest of the seven Dash children for whom The Folly was to become home with their parents, Thomas and Edith Dash, at the Colts Green end of the Sodbury Common. This was just to the east of where The Bell pub now is

Percy was probably closest to his next brother down, Herbert Sidney, a keen gardener. Sidney was the next to join up after Percy and served the years 1916 – 1918 in the same Grenadier Guards. William (Bill), the third brother to survive into adulthood, worked at the quarry and was to become father to two daughters. The descendant of one of these, Hayley Dash was still living at The Folly in 2014

Best of friends Percy and Sidney walked to school together across the fields to Chipping Sodbury, where Percy became special friends with C.G. Colwill, George Vizard and Leslie Andrews. Together they roamed the surrounding countryside, the villages, and as Colwill reminisced “those long walks on a Sunday afternoon over The Ridings in cowslip time to stand under that chestnut tree in the Churchyard in full bloom. What fragrant memories!” Many years later, Colwill, alone among these friends to survive the war, wrote about having lost so many of his friends, “Percy Dash, George Vizard, Leonard Andrews, and several of those I served with so young and bright”, and his still-remaining memories about the date war started on, 4th August 1914 “which still wrings my heart” (Annals of a Borough viz. Chipping Sodbury, by P.A. Couzens, p.51, 1989)

Percy’s 1st Battalion crossed to Zeebrugge on 8th August, after a short add-on spell of training in the New Forest. There was then a fair bit of tramping around Ypres and the villages in its Salient, before immersion in his ‘baptism of fire’ in First Ypres, as the First Battle of Ypres came to be known. Fought between 8th and 30th October 1914, sometimes even by night, this was a savage introduction for them all as to what would be in store for
the few survivors. These numbered only 4 officers and 200 men; two complete squadrons were wiped out. It was to be some while before the remains of Percy’s regiment could be buried.

Not until 1918 was a grave found for his remains, in the newly formed British Cemetery at Zantwoorde, near Zonnebeke, very near the overgrown battlefield on which he had been killed four years earlier. This was some 8km. to the South-East of Ypres Town Centre, and his grave there is in Plot VI, B1. There are nearly 1600 burials in this British Cemetery, but not even 450 of them are identified, no doubt some measure of the savagery in the fighting.

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Alison Benton (2014) Remembered with Honour. Sprint Print, Yate. Forces War Records