Percy Ernest READ

READ, Percy Ernest

Service Number: 583
Enlisted: 9 March 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 28th Infantry Battalion
Born: North Adelaide, South Australia, 22 October 1892
Home Town: Subiaco, Nedlands, Western Australia
Schooling: Fremantle State School, Western Australia
Occupation: Ironmonger
Died: Killed in Action, France, 29 July 1916, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Courcelette British Cemetery
Plot III, Row E, Grave II,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Subiaco Fallen Soldiers Memorial
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World War 1 Service

9 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private
15 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 583, 28th Infantry Battalion, 12 months Field Artillery, Perth
29 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, 583, 28th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '16' embarkation_place: Fremantle embarkation_ship: HMAT Ascanius embarkation_ship_number: A11 public_note: ''
29 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, 583, 28th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Fremantle
31 Oct 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 28th Infantry Battalion
24 Jun 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 28th Infantry Battalion
29 Jul 1916: Involvement Corporal, 583, 28th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 583 awm_unit: 28 Battalion awm_rank: Corporal awm_died_date: 1916-07-29

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Cpl 583 Percy Ernest Read,
28th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company,
7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division
In the green fields of the Somme, bathed in light, silently stand among the poppies the peaceful cemeteries in which rest in peace, united in fraternity and eternal camaraderie, a whole generation of young men who, more than a hundred years ago, for their country and for France, for peace and freedom, responded together and proudly to the call of duty which guided them, as did the spirit of ANZAC, on the battlefields where side by side, in the trenches, under the fire of the machine guns and artillery, fought with the greatest bravery until their last breaths of life and fell in the prime of their young lives in the mud and the barbed wire, on the devastated grounds of the great war on which they paid the supreme sacrifices in the name of ideals that today we call humanity.They were young, they were brave and today they still stand proud of what they did for their country, for their loved ones and for us who have the privilege of having a tomorrow thanks to the sacrifices and acts of these heroes over whom I will always watch over with gratitude so that they will never be forgotten.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Corporal number 583 Percy Ernest Read who fought in the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who was killed in action 106 years ago, on July 29, 1916 at the age of 23 during the Battle of the Somme.

Percy Ernest Read was born in 1893 in North Adelaide, South Australia, and was the son of Ernest and Elizabeth Read. He was educated at Fremantle State School, Western Australia then after graduation, served for a period of 12 months in the Field Artillery in Perth, married a few years later Alice Muriel Read and lived at 190 Subiaco Road, Subiaco, Western Australia where he worked as an ironmonger.

Percy enlisted on 9 March 1915 at Perth, Western Australia, as a Private in the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, battalion which was raised at Blackboy Camp, Western Australia, whose nickname was "The Swan Regiment", had for motto "Urgens " (Urgent) and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Collett. After a four month training period at Blackboy Camp, Percy embarked with his unit from Fremantle, on board HMAT Ivernia and after a quick stop in Egypt on September 4 1915, sailed for the Gallipoli Peninsula.

On October 24, 1915, Percy was disembarked at Gallipoli and was promoted the same day to the rank of Lance Corporal. At Gallipoli, the 28th Battalion had a purely defensive role, protecting ANZAC Cove and a position called "Cheshire Ridge" and served in this role until the evacuation of the peninsula on December 19.On the peninsula, many of the 2nd Division casualties were as a result of disease which was at its worst in the hotter months because of unsanitary conditions caused by field burials and difficulties in maintaining adequate standards of field hygiene. "Enteric Fever" is often referred to in soldiers records, it is interchangeable with the far more ominous-sounding "typhoid" and was an ongoing problem.

On December 19, 1915, Percy and the men of the 28th Battalion were evacuated from Gallipoli on board "Ansonia" and were sent to Egypt then were disembarked in Alexandria on January 10, 1916 and had a major role in the defense of the Suez Canal. A few weeks later, on January 27, Percy neglecting to comply with an order at Tel-El-Kebir and was reverted to the rank of Private and two months later, on March 16, alongside his comrades, joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force ) and proceeded overseas for France.

On March 17, 1916, Percy was promoted to the rank of Temporary Corporal at sea and on March 21, after less than a week on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Percy arrived in France and was disembarked at Marseilles. The next day, the 28th Battalion marched into billets in Steenbecque (Hauts-De-France) where they remained until April 3.

On April 4, 1916, Percy and the men of the 28th Battalion marched through La Belle Hotesse, Fort Rompu and on April 8, entered the trenches in front of Bois-Grenier and came under heavy German artillery bombardment for the first time. then from April 26 to 30, were placed in support trenches at Rue Marle, near Bois-Grenier, whose trenches they again occupied from May 3 and fought in this sector until June 8.

On June 11, 1916, the 28th Battalion and Percy marched into billets at Rue Dormoire then on June 22, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and joined the cantonments of Red Lodge, in the Bois Grenier sector and moved back into the trenches of this sector of the front on June 28.

On the morning of July 1, 1916, the 28th Battalion marched to the trenches of Messines, Belgium, where that same evening a raid was launched on their right flank but was repulsed by German artillery which pounded the trenches of the 28th Battalion for 45 minutes. and destroyed a position known as "Stinking Farm" then on 6 July, moved to Billets between Neuve-Eglise and Dranoutre, marched to Wizernes on 12 July from where they embarked by train for the Somme front.

On July 14, 1916, Percy and the 28th Battalion arrived at Saleux, near Amiens, and the next day, marched for Bertangles then for Herissart on July 20, Warloy-Baillon on July 22, bivouacked at Albert on July 26 then the following day, entered the Sausage Valley trenches and on the 28th deployed for an attack on the German trenches named OG1 and OG2 north of Pozieres scheduled for the next day.

During this attack, the Australians launched four waves of assaults preceded by an artillery bombardment to break the lines of barbed wire but this did not succeed and the Diggers found themselves in front of intact enemy positions defended by machine guns which mowed down the men of the 28th Battalion one after the other and following this failure, orders were received to withdraw but the toll of this attack of July 29, 1916 was heavy and the 28th Battalion lost 523 men, 63 of whom were killed in action, including Corporal Percy Ernest Read, he was 23 years old.

In the confusion of this fateful and murderous day, one of many on the Pozières battlefield, Percy was first declared missing, some thought he was captured by the Germans, but Private number 1692 James Alexander Cook, 28th Australian Infantry Battalion stated:
"Percy was killed taking his gun into action, riddled with bullets and was buried in a shell hole on Pozieres ridge, near the mill."

Corporal number 1597, George Mitchell White, 28th Australian Infantry Battalion stated:
"I saw Corporal Read killed by a machine gun bullet about the shoulder. During the charge to take Pozieres Ridge about midnight on July 28, 1916, I was leading my section across no man's land, when I saw Read fall. I was very near him at that time. He would not be buried, as we has not brought in to our own lines,and six days later we went over the same ground again, and discovered all the bodies had been blown to pieces."

Following these testimonies, on July 29, 1916, after being declared missing, Percy was declared killed in action.

Today, Corporal Percy Ernest Read rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme.

Percy, brave among the bravest, it was by taking a step forward that you joined the ranks of a whole generation of exceptional men who, together, without fear and in the prime of life, answered the call duty under the rising sun, under the colors of the young Australian nation to do their part in the great war, to be at the side of their friends and brothers in those dark hours which covered the world with a veil of darkness and uncertainties and which, thousands of miles away, through flames and fury, caused the death of thousands of fathers and sons who, on the hot sands of Gallipoli, in the mud of Belgium, through the blood-red poppies of the Somme, gave their today for what was right and moved forward under whirlwinds of bullets, under steel walls, hail of tons of shells without ever backing down because they knew that the future of the world would depend on them and with courage, with determination, their high heads and their valiant hearts, fought hard, like lions, biting the ground under their boots, advancing with difficulty in deep and sticky mud but they never gave up and by their extreme bravery made their countries proud and were admired by their brothers in arms who had the honor of fighting alongside the Australians under the command of General Sir John Monash who led the Australian troops with dedication on the sacred grounds of northern France until the final victory and it is in a united front that French, British and Australian and Commonwealth nations, all guided by hopes of peace, struggled, suffered, served and fell together to preserve what remained of good and beauty in the hearts of men who, for four years of a endless war, killed each other in unimaginable bloodbaths, in bloody bayonet charges, in in murderous battles which were the tomb of a whole generation of young men who, for their loved ones,for us,guided by their hearts and their determination,gave everything they had to offer us the chance to have a better world, so that we can live without fear the next day while they endured hell on earth day and night under the mournful howl of artillery which, in fury and chaos, buried alive so many young men who volunteered in this apocalypse and who, in rains of blood, in the smell of death, sacrificed their youth and lost their innocence in the face of the inhuman monster that was war and saw their friends who were cut down without mercy, who saw them dying in tears and prayers, in blood and pain while their comrades, with heavy hearts and tears in their eyes, helpless in the face of this brutality, had to press on, leaving behind their brothers who were crying out for help and who, in the midst of bullets and explosions, in putrid quagmires, awaited death and silence after so much suffering but they had in these last breaths of life, the pride and the comfort of having done what was right and under their slouch hats, closed forever their eyes to be reborn in our hearts, in our thoughts where they will remain young and smiling forever. Today, the machine guns, in heaps of rust have disappeared, the artillery no longer pours death and in the silence, the birds fly over the sacred lands of the Somme through which the ghosts of young men walk in peace through the poppies, eternal witnesses of a world that was at war and who keep intact the memory of these heroes over whom I will always watch with love and respect so that who they were and what they did for us are never forgotten so that the torch of remembrance that we carry in our hands may one day be transmitted and perpetuated with devotion and loyalty to honor and preserve the memory of men whom we do not all know but to whom we owe everything.Thank you so much Percy, for everything. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.