John Albert Knox PERRY


PERRY, John Albert Knox

Service Number: 7772
Enlisted: 22 August 1917
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 1st Infantry Battalion
Born: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 9 September 1867
Home Town: Comboyne, Port Macquarie-Hastings, New South Wales
Schooling: Home Schooled
Occupation: Methodist Home Missionary
Died: Died of wounds, France, 24 August 1918, aged 50 years
Cemetery: Daours Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Nabiac War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

22 Aug 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 7772, 1st Infantry Battalion
19 Dec 1917: Involvement Private, SN 7772, 1st Infantry Battalion
19 Dec 1917: Embarked Private, SN 7772, 1st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Sydney

J A K Perry

John Albert Knox Perry was born in Sydney on 9th September 1867, the eighth child of James and Isabella Perry.

John's father, James, had migrated from Northern Ireland in 1844 as a twenty one year old possibly seeking his fortune in a new land. James had taken part in Ludwig Leichardt's second voyage of discovery and had almost died from complications of malaria on this trip. He had intended to take part in Leichardt's third expedition but he had fallen for the daughter of his boss (John Knox) and Ludwig had given his blessing for James to remain behind and get married to Isabella Knox. James was thus saved from dying with the rest of the party on the third expedition.

There was a great deal of controversy about Leichardt's expeditions but James and his family were always loyal to his memory. Both John and his brother Frank had contributed a number of articles to newspapers on their father's part in the second expedition. John had also published in 1884 what he intended to be the first in a series of articles on the expedition called "On the Port Essington Journey" but there was not enough available documentation for his purposes so he was unable to proceed.

John's father died in Bombala in 1875 when John was only seven. The family remained in Bombala for a few years and then moved to Sydney. Isabella (John's mother) died in Drummoyne twenty years later in 1895 when John was twenty seven. He attended the Methodist Sunday school at Glebe Road but otherwise, he was schooled at home.

John was apprenticed to E.C. Tweedie working on the Bombala Times as a compositor for 5 years and in August 1888 he is shown as taking a prominent part in a meeting of the New South Wales Typographical Association. In 1902 he obtained a warrant from the Civil Ambulance (maybe an advanced version of a first aid certificate) while working at the Fitzroy dock, Cockatoo Island.

John joined the Royal Black Preceptory Lodge, members of which must first be a member of an Orange Order Lodge. He was an active member for a minimum of ten years from 1895 to 1905. The Royal Black Preceptory was acknowledged as being more religious that the Orange Order.

Having then received the call to be a minister, he became a Methodist home missionary in the North West corner of New South Wales. In 1905, he was registered to be able to celebrate marriages as a minister when he was situated in Nyngan. In 1907, he moved from Nyngan to Bulahdelah. In 1911, he was moved from Bulahdelah to Yerranderie and a year later in 1912 from Yerranderie to Bombala and in 1913 he was back in Bulahdelah.

In 1916, when he moved from Bulahdelah to Coffs Harbour, he was presented with a pen by the Bulahdelah Brass Band as a token of respect. He had been vice president of the band during his stay.

In June 1916 he was welcomed with a housewarming gift by the Methodist parishioners of Port Macquarie. He was appointed assistant Methodist minister in the Port Macquarie circuit. In the same year, he stood in as an assistant type setter for the Port Macquarie newspaper because of staff shortages. In May 1917, he was transferred to Comboyne as the first resident minister.

In September of the same year, he advised his congregation that he had applied once again to enlist in the army and may have to leave them soon. At the quarterly meeting of the Methodist Home Missionaries on 3rd October 1917, he officially resigned by letter and suggested that he forfeit his quarterly stipend in lieu of the usual three months notice. The meeting decided to place on record their high appreciation of Mr Perry's work and to pay him in full for the time he was in the circuit. There was a presentation of money to John by Comboyne residents as well as a wristlet watch.

While at Comboyne, he also acted as the correspondent for the Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate.

John had tried to enlist in the army five times and was rejected each time. Eventually even though he was fifty years old, he did enlist in Sydney in the 1st Battalion AIF on 28th September 1917. As with other older members of the forces, he lied about his age by stating he was aged 39 years and 11 months instead of his true age of fifty. He embarked at Sydney on 19 December 1917 on H.M.T. Ulysses and disembarked at Suez on 16th January 1918. After a week, he embarked on 8021 Leasowe and after a stay in a rest camp in Italy eventually reached England on 13th February 1918. Three months later, he joined his battalion on 15th May 2018 in France.

Two months later he was wounded and was killed in action on 24 August 1918 in France, just three months before the end of the war.

A special memorial service was held in Comboyne early in October 1918 in honour of J A K Perry. The church was so crowded that extra seating had to be brought to accommodate those attending. It was proposed to build a Methodist Church and call it the "John Knox Perry Memorial". This did not eventuate so we must presume the funds raised were transferred to the Parsonage at Nabiac.
A second service was held in Nabiac and was equally well attended. The congregation in Nabiac decided to raise money for a memorial for him and the money raised went towards the John Albert Knox Perry Memorial Parsonage which still stands in Nabiac. In 1924, the general secretary of the home missionary society unveiled a memorial tablet to John in the Bulahdelah church.

He was described as someone who did good works rather than spending his time to preach the gospel, using his prior knowledge gained from the Civil Ambulance to assist in providing medical services to the less well off as well as performing hard labour for and with those who need help. It is apparent from the response of "normal people" that John made a great impression on the districts in which he worked.

His name is written on War Memorials in Coffs Harbour, Bulahdelah, Wingham, Comboyne and Nabiac but his memory is wider spread than that as can be seen from an extract of a report from Bombala in 1931

The only photo that can be found of John was on a baptism certificate from a baptism he performed in Nabiac on 11th November 1907.

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