Percy John Smith’s connection with Chelmsford has yet to be established. He came from Felsted where his father was a miller and worked on a farm. He joined the army before the war and married. During the war he was wounded in 1915 and invalided home. He was killed in a shooting accident in Yorkshire in April 1917. Two brothers were also killed during the war.
Percy was born at Felsted in 1882, one of 15 children of the miller George Smith and Jane Smith (nee Smith). His father had been born in 1861 in Felsted; his mother in 1859 in Chatley Hamlet near Great Leighs.
Percy’s siblings included Annie Smith (born c1880 in Great Leighs), Edith Kate Smith (born in 1884 in Felsted), Walter Smith (born in 1887 in Felsted) Arthur Smith (born in 1890 in Felsted), Ernest Smith (born in 1892 in Felsted), Florence Mabel Smith (born in 1895 in Felsted), Dorothy Smith (born in 1898 in Felsted), Beatrice Ellen Smith (born in 1900 in Felsted) and Laura Minnie Smith (born in 1902 in Felsted). Five of his siblings died by 1911.
The 1891 census recorded eight year-old Percy living with his parents and four siblings near the mill in Felsted. His father was a journeyman miller. A decade later Percy’s parents and five of his siblings were living a Bannister Green, Felsted. His father remained employed as a journeyman miller. Meanwhile 19 year-old Percy was employed as a farm worker in Little Smeaton in Yorkshire.
SMITH, PERCY JOHN,
Battery Sergeant Major, Royal Field Artillery
Percy married Alice Maud Taylor in 1910. She had been born c1881 in Yorktown, Surrey.
He enlisted into the army at Chelmsford before the war. In 1911 the census found 29 year-old Percy living with his wife at Bulford Army Camp in Wiltshire. As well as being a soldier he was an Assistant Wesleyan Chaplain.
Following the outbreak of the war he landed in France on 12th May 1915. He was wounded the same year and invalided home with rheumatism and rever. He was killed near Ripon when accidentally shot while out shooting on 28th April 1917 while serving as Battery Serjeant Major 85441 in the Northern Command Depot (Ripon) of the Royal Field Artillery. He was aged 34. He is buried at Ripon Cemetery in Yorkshire (grave: F. 140).
Percy is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and the Felsted War Memorial. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal. His bothers Walter and Ernest bost lost their lives during the war and are commemorated at Felsted.
His parents later lived at The Mount, Bannister Green, Felsted. His father died in 1941, aged 80. His mother died in 1944.
His connection with Chelmsford is unclear, but he may be the Percy John Smith listed at 54 Lower Anchor Street in the town’s 1914-15 Register of Electors.