Percy John OPIE


OPIE, Percy John

Service Number: 7051
Enlisted: 1 October 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Jamestown, South Australia, 6 September 1885
Home Town: Norwood, South Australia
Schooling: Kadina, South Australia
Occupation: Glazier
Died: Killed In Action, France, 23 July 1918, aged 32 years
Cemetery: Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension
Plot II, Row F, Grave 50
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Norwood War Memorial, Payneham Methodist Church Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

1 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
16 Dec 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 7051, 10th Infantry Battalion
16 Dec 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 7051, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Adelaide
Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Brother of 1392 Pte. Victor Alan Opie (/explore/people/103581)  - Killed in Action at Gallipoli on 2 May 1915

Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Percy John Opie was born on the 6th of September, 1885 in Jamestown, South Australia. He was born to Francis Opie and Annie Opie (née Rushall) and he was the fifth child of seven. He had three older brothers: Edward, Francis and William who died as an infant. He had an older sister called Ethel, a younger brother called Victor and a younger sister called Annie. Victor would go on to perish at Dardanelles, Gallipoli, and the father passed away when Percy was 18.

Percy was educated in Kadina and, though it is unclear where he lived as a child, he lived at 10 Edward Street, Norwood as an adult. He was a 62 kg Methodist standing at 5’5 with dark skin and black hair.

Percy married Edith Zulieme Opie (née Willson) on the 25th of November 1916 at St Bartholomew’s Church, Norwood, Adelaide. Interestingly, his sister Ethel married Edith’s cousin Danford Willson.

On the 19th of October 1916, possessing no military experience, Percy Opie enlisted for the war in Adelaide, South Australia. He was assigned to the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion, 23rd Reinforcement (regimental number 7051). About two months later, on the 16th of December he embarked the HMAT A35 Berrima and set off for England. Two months later, he arrived at Devonport, England and began his training with the 3rd Overseas Training Brigade in Durrington. In mid-march, he caught a fever and moved to the Fargo Hospital in the neighbouring town of Larkhill. He returned to Durrington to resume his training on the 8th of April, only to contract influenza 15 days later. He was admitted to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital and stayed there until May. After a few weeks of training he was finally fit enough for more advanced training.

From the 14th to the 15th of June Opie travelled from Durrington to Havre, France via Southampton and proceeded to his unit with the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot for harder training. On the 7th of July, he shifted to the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion and began fighting.

On the 11th of October, Opie was admitted to the 7th Australian Field Ambulance with trench feet. There is a lack of clarity regarding what actions followed but he rejoined the 10th Battalion the next day.

On the 7th of November, while serving for the 3rd Australian Field Artillery – to which he was seconded – Opie was gassed in Ypres, Belgium. A few days later, he arrived at the 7th Casualty Clearing Station via the 35th Convalescent Hospital in Calais on the eighth. Returning to England for treatment, he moved through Brighton to the 2nd Birmingham War Hospital, now known as the Hollymoor Medical Centre in the suburb of Northfield in Birmingham. It is now one year before the war’s conclusion.

After about forty days of recuperation, Opie proceeded to the convalescent depot in Sutton Veny to begin a retransition from the hospital to the unit. After a couple of months of training he returned to the 10th Battalion for active service on the Western Front with the eventual aim to progress onward and take Germany. 

On the 23rd of July, a day on which the enemy were reported to be very alert, while digging an outpost in France, Opie was sniped through the head. He was officially declared killed in action on the 27th. He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal and he is, to this day, commemorated at the North Rd Church of England in Adelaide, South Australia. He is buried in the Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension - plot 2, row F, grave no. 50 - in Bailleul, France.