PERCY EDWIN GALE
My maternal grandfather, Percy Edwin GALE was born on 1st June 1886 in
Aldershot. He was the eldest
child of Edwin and Louisa (nee KENNETT) GALE and like his father, he was a
Percy enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers in
Newcastle on 11th
July 1905 when he was just 19 year old. His enlistment papers show that he was
5ft 9 ¾ and weighed 138lbs, and he had brown hair and brown eyes.
From February 1906 to November 1913 he was stationed in
in Sabathu where the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
had been stationed prior to the outbreak of WW1.
At the outbreak of war, Percy was with the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which were based in
Portsmouth. On 14th August
1914 the 1st Battalion landed in Le
Havre and remained in France
and Flanders for the duration of the war as
part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Division
ending the war on 11 November 1918 at La Longueville.
December 1915 saw Percy shipped back to Blighty where he remained until November 1916. I believe that this was the period he was hospitalised as a result of a gas attack. It was at the end of this period that he married Grandma Jessie MACKENZIE who was a nurse at the time. Family legend tells that Grandad was temporarily blinded as a result of the gas and he fell in love with Nurse Mackenzie’s voice as she tended to his wounds. When he regained his sight he saw how beautiful she was and asked her to be his wife. They married on 9th September 1916 – for the first time.
From 15th November 1916 Percy served with the 2nd Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who were already serving in
France as part
of the 97th Brigade, 32nd Division.
I don’t know for sure why he was transferred to this unit although it is
probable that it was for reinforcement purposes. November 1916 was the end of
the Battle of the Somme
during which many Battalions suffered heavy casualties and soldiers were
transferred to fill the many gaps until reinforcements could arrive.
By the 14th June 1917, Percy was back with the Northumberland Fusiliers. During WW1 the Northumberland Fusiliers raised a total of 51 battalions and as a result of this amazing contribution the regiment was granted the title Royal, becoming the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.
Percy must have been sent back to
England again late in the war as he
and Jessie married again on 3rd August 1918! Once again I rely on
family legend for the reason for their second ceremony; of which there are two
theories. One was that Jessie did not want to give up nursing while there was a
war on and as a married woman she would not have been permitted to keep
working. The second story is far more romantic. Jessie’s father, John
MACKENZIE, did not approve of Percy as a suitable husband and so refused to
give permission for them to marry in 1916, prompting Percy and Jessie to marry
in secret. Only when John relented did they marry with his blessing in 1918.
This story may have some credence to it as John is not a witness to their first
marriage at Trinity Church St Marylebone but he is a signatory at their wedding
in St Clement Danes Church in 1918.
Percy was discharged from the army in August 1928 but re-enlisted in the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Special Reserve Territorial Army as a Trooper in April 1934. He attended Annual training camps over the next few years and was ready for active duty again at the outbreak of WW2.
From January 1940 to May 1941 Percy served in
Palestine as part of the
Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps.
Grandad was finally discharged from the Army in October 1943 due to ill health. He was awarded the
India General Service Medal 1908,
the 1914 Star, British War Medal 1914-1918, Victory Medal 1914-1918 as well as
Long Service and Good Conduct medals.
Grandad was a proud member of the Old Contemptibles. This name was coined by the members of the original British Expeditionary Force which crossed to
in August 1914 under the command of Sir John French. As large parts of the
British Army were stationed in all corners of the Empire at the outbreak of
war, this BEF was a relatively small fighting force; especially compared to the
German Army. Apparently the Kaiser was particularly scathing in his assessment
of the British Army calling it “General French’s contemptible little army” and
so the name was adopted with pride.
The “Old Contemptibles” covered themselves in glory during the early days of the war when they took part in the Battle of Mons, the Retreat from
and the First Battle of Ypres. They were entitled to the 1914 Star; a medal
reserved for those who fought in the first months of war.
After he retired Percy and Jessie managed a number of hotels, the George in Market Rasen and the Welland Inn in Spalding. Percy died on 3rd April 1955.
JOHN SKELTON AND MARY PASCALL
This date is also the anniversary of the marriage of my paternal G-G-G-G-grandparents, John SKELTON and Mary PASCALL. They were married in Shifnal in
Shropshire and spent all their
married life in the area. Their first three children, Mary, John and Richard
were baptized in Preston-on-the-Weald-Moors and their final 5 children,
Catherine (my G-G-G-Grandmother), Elizabeth, Fanny, William and Mary Ann were
baptized in Wellington Shropshire.