Lance Corporal Percy Coleman

© Royston Williamson 2015
Photo courtesy of Royston Williamson

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

Percy Coleman was born in the 3rd quarter of 1889 in Woking, Surrey to Henry, a Police Superintendant and Alice Swindlehurst.

Percy’s father Henry was born about 1863 in Ilminster, Somerset to labourer Francis. Alice Swindlehurst was born about 1861 in Wonersh, Surrey to Robert James, a blacksmith. Henry and Alice married on 21st December 1881 at St John the Baptist Church in Wonersh. At the time of marriage, Henry was working as a leather dresser.

Percy had eight brothers and sisters of whom, one had died by 1911. They were called: Harry W; Albert G; Francis; Leonard; Alice; Mabel and Ellen Minnie.

At the time of the 1891 Census, the family lived in the Police Station, Guildford Road in Woking. Henry was working as a police constable and Alice was looking after Harry, Albert, Francis and one year old Percy.

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved to the Police Station at Camberley, Frimley in Farnham. Henry was working as a Surrey Constabulary Sergeant. Alice was looking after Percy, Leonard, Alice and Mabel. Albert was working as a railway porter and Francis as an oilman assistant.

By the 1911 Census, Percy’s father Henry became the Superintendant of Police. The family lived at the Police Station at Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Alice was at home looking after Mabel and Ellen Minnie. Her son Leonard was working as a motor car driver and sixteen year old Alice was a dressmakers assistant. The family occupied five rooms: three bedrooms, a kitchen and a sitting room.

Percy was working as a footman at Warwick House, St James’s Stable Yard, London to Mary Hoadley Dodge (an American heiress). The house had 20 rooms and Mrs Hoadley employed an extremely large household.

Nutley War Memorial © Nutley Historical Society

At the time of Enlistment Percy was living at the Cottage, Pippingford Park, Nutley in Sussex, where he appears on the War Memorial there.

Percy Coleman enrolled into the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment. He enlisted in September 1914 in Lewes, Sussex, a month after the war broke out. He was a Private with the regimental number G/1647. Later he was transferred into the 7th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. He became a Lance Corporal with the regimental number G/1647.

Percy disembarked on 29th November 1914 in France. In winter 1915 Henry caught dysentery in the trenches at the front, which developed into double pneumonia. The War Office proclaimed him dead; but he survived. When Percy sufficiently recovered he was sent home and for a while stayed at a hospital in Oxford. Unfortunately in January 1915, his young wife was buried in Dorking as a result of the after affects of an operation. The grieving Percy returned back to his regiment in France less than a week after the event.



We regret to hear that Lce-Corpl. Percy Coleman, 7th Batt. Royal Sussex Regiment, fourth son of Supt. Coleman, of Dorking, has died from wounds in France. He was shot in the buttocks and leg, apparently last Sunday, and survived only a short time. Lce-Corpl. Coleman joined the Army in September, 1914, a month after the war broke out, and he was out at the Front last winter, when he contracted dysentery in the trenches, which developed into double pneumonia. He was reported dead by the War Office, but he pulled through, and when sufficiently recovered he was sent home, and for some time was in a hospital in Oxford City. Last January, at Dorking, he buried his young wife, who died from the after effects of an operation, and within less than a week he had rejoined his regiment in France. Mr. and Mrs. Coleman will much sympathy in their sorrow.

Percy Coleman Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser

Percy died of wounds on 5th March 1916 at 33rd Central Clearing Station, Bethune in France. He was shot in the buttocks and leg and lived for only a short while thereafter.

By 1916 his father Henry was a Police Super-Intendant of Dorking.

Percy Coleman is buried at the Bethune Cemetery in France. His grave reference number is V.A.75. His headstone reads ‘Thy Will Be Done’.

His father Henry, Superintendant of Police, received £2, 10s and 10d on 2nd November 1916 and £6 and 10s on 2nd November 1919 in Soldier’s Effects.

His father also received £241, 7s and 2d in Probate.

Percy was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. His brother Albert was killed in France in 1918

By 1920 his parents moved to Brock’s House, Horton in Ilminster, Somerset.

Born Woking, Surrey
Son of Henry and Alice Coleman of Brock’s House, Horton, Ilminster, Somerset
Regiment 7th Battalion. Royal Sussex Regiment
Number G/1612
Date of Death 5th March 1916
Place of Death France
Cause of Death Died of wounds
Age 27
Memorial Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais
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