Percy Herbert CHERRY VC, MC

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CHERRY, Percy Herbert

Service Number: 1023
Enlisted: 15 March 1915, Franklin, Tasmania
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Drysdale, Victoria, 4 June 1895
Home Town: Cradoc, Huon Valley, Tasmania
Schooling: Cradoc State School
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Killed In Action, Lagnicourt, France, 27 March 1917, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy
Plot VIII, Row C, Grave 10
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cradoc Pictorial Honour Roll, Franklin Congregational Church HR, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, Mannerim State School & District Roll of Honor, North Bondi War Memorial, Port Cygnet Soldiers Memorial, Winchelsea WWI Memorial
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World War 1 Service

15 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1023, Franklin, Tasmania
29 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Staff Sergeant (CQMS), SN 1023, 26th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Brisbane
29 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Staff Sergeant (CQMS), SN 1023, 26th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Staff Sergeant (CQMS), SN 1023, 26th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 7th Machine Gun Company, Battle for Pozières
26 Mar 1917: Honoured Victoria Cross, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, "For most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership when in command of a company detailed to storm and clear a village. After all the officers of his company had become casualties he carried on with care and determination in the face of fierce opposition, and cleared the village of the enemy. He sent frequent reports of progress made, and when held up for some time by an enemy strong point, he organised machine gun and bomb parties and captured the position. His leadership, coolness and bravery set a wonderful example to his men. Having cleared the village, he took charge of the situation and beat off the most resolute and heavy counter-attacks made by the enemy. Wounded about 6.30 a.m., he refused to leave his post, and there remained, encouraging all to hold out at all costs, until, about 4.30 p.m. this very gallant officer was killed by an enemy shell."
27 Mar 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 26th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
21 Aug 1917: Honoured Military Cross, For conspicuous bravery and gallantry in action in the attack on Malt Trench North of Warlencourt. He led his company in the attack with great gallantry and captured the enemy's position together with two machine guns. Later although wounded, he continued to command his men.' Recommendation date: 11 April 1917

And so it ends - a duel near Pozieres

Percy Cherry commanded the 7th MG company's 1st Battery at Fleurbaix, Messines and on the Somme until 5 August when he was wounded in a duel with a German officer at Pozières.

After sniping at each other from their shell-holes both officers fired together and both were wounded, the German mortally. When Cherry went over to him he was given a package of letters which he promised to post.

His opponent's dying words were 'And so it ends'. Cherry was promoted lieutenant on 25 August and resumed duty on the Somme in November. He was posted back to the 26th Battalion as a Company Commander early in 1917.

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Awarded the Victoria Cross - Lagnicourt

'For most conspicuous bravery, determination, and leadership when in command of a company detailed to storm and clear a village. After all the officers of his company had become casualties, he carried on with care and determination, in the face of fierce opposition, and cleared the village of the enemy. He sent frequent reports of progress made, and when held up for some time by an enemy strong point he organized machine gun and bomb parties and captured the position. His leadership, coolness, and bravery set a wonderful example to his men. Having cleared the village, he took charge of the situation and beat off the most resolute and heavy counter attack made by the enemy. Wounded about 6.30 a.m., he refused to leave his post, and there remained, encouraging all to hold out at all costs, until, about 4.30 p.m., this very gallant officer was killed by an enemy shell.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 140
Date: 27 August 1917

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Awarded the Military Cross - Warlancourt

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his company in the attack with great gallantry and captured the enemy's position together with two machine guns. Later although wounded, he continued to command his men.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 133
Date: 21 August 1917

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Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

Cherry, Percy Herbert (1895–1917)

by Rex Clark

Percy Herbert Cherry, soldier, was born on 4 June 1895 at Drysdale, Victoria, son of John Gawley Cherry and his wife Elizabeth, née Russel, both Victorian-born. When he was 7 the family moved to Tasmania and took up an apple orchard near Cradoc. Percy attended the local state school until he was 13 and was then privately tutored. He played the cornet in the Franklin brass band, sang in the Anglican church choir and belonged to the local cadet corps. He worked with his father and became an expert apple-packer, winning a championship title in case-making at Launceston Fruit Show. In 1913 he was commissioned in the 93rd Infantry Regiment.

On 15 March 1915 Cherry enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was posted to the 26th Battalion; he was considered too young for an A.I.F. commission and he sailed for Egypt in June as a quartermaster sergeant. In August he was made a company sergeant major and next month reached Gallipoli where he served at Taylor's Hollow and Russell's Top. He was wounded on 1 December and evacuated; a week later he was promoted second lieutenant. 

https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cherry-percy-herbert-5576 (adb.anu.edu.au)

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