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Percy James Ware

aka Percy Gould Weare
Dorset Regt badge
North Somerset Yeomanry
Private 1797
then
Dorsetshire Regiment
5th Battalion
Private 19222
Died 11th January 1917

Percy Ware's Family

Percy James Ware was born in 1893 in the hamlet of Coxley, near Wells. Coxley is on the main road south out of Wells towards Glastonbury; its landmark Pound Inn will be familiar to anyone who regularly uses the A39 south of Wells.

Percy was born Percy Gould Weare. We must assume that the surname was pronounced “Ware”, as this is how it frequently appears for various members of the wider family on census entries, especially when the submission was completed by someone outside the family (e.g. an employer). Hence it is not overly surprising that Percy later took on the “Ware” spelling.

Percy’s mother was Mary Ann Weare, the fourth of six children born to Thomas and Eliza Weare. Mary Ann was aged about 20 and unmarried at the time of Percy’s birth and the birth certificate does not list a father, but it does list his second given name as ‘Gould’. Sometimes the naming of illegitimate children was done to create a link with the father and (if one is given to conjecture) it is notable that there was a Gould family living in Wells at the time, with a son, George Gould, who would have been about 18 at the time Percy was conceived. The census shows George Gould was also born in Coxley, so Mary Ann and George would almost certainly have been well acquainted! But later in life, Percy gave his second name as ‘James’ and the ‘Gould’ does not appear on any document other than his birth certificate.

Percy’s wider family was heavily engaged in agriculture, working in the dairy or as labourers on farms in and around Coxley and northwards as far as Burcott, near Wookey. Percy’s grandfather Thomas Weare died some time between 1871 and 1881, leaving a widow and six children, including Percy’s mother, meaning that these children were proably compelled to work from an early age to contribute to the support of the family.

Another farmer locally was Edwin White, an uncle to Percy’s mother and her siblings. Censuses show several of the siblings living at Edwin White’s farm in their teens, no doubt earning their keep there. Mary Ann was there in 1891, aged 20, two years prior to Percy’s birth in 1893.

Ware family tree

Move to Bath

Percy’s eldest aunt, Margaret Matilda Weare (about ten years his mother’s senior), had also spent some time on uncle Edwin’s farm and was listed there in the 1881 census, aged 20. By 1891 Margaret was in service as a domestic cook at Dorchester Lodge on Entry Hill in Lyncombe Vale, Bath, home of the Fisher family. Head of household Montague Fisher was with the National Provincial Bank.

[MYSTERY: Where was Dorchester Lodge?]

Percy’s Aunt Margaret was married in 1895 to James Perry, who was born in Chippenham. We know that James Perry had moved to Bath by the time he was 20 as he was fined two shillings in 1893 for ‘damaging grass’ in a field at Beechen Cliff; when chased off by the farmer he and his friends had left behind a pack of cards and twopence!

Percy’s foster father was a carter and we know that in May 1899 James Perry began working as a ‘carman’ or porter for the Great Western Railway, a job he kept throughout Percy’s early years. Railway employment records show that James was employed at the GWR goods station, which was where Pickfords is now, above the Lower Bristol Road.

From 1897 James and Margaret lived in Calton Road (in the Holloway area, since cleared) and the 1901 census shows Percy Ware living with them, correctly listed as a ‘nephew’, age 7. It’s not known when Percy came to live with his aunt & uncle in Bath, but he was clearly a young boy. It may be that his mother Mary Ann was unable to support him. Mary Ann was, by 1901 working as a housekeeper and was living with her elder sister Emily at Muriel Terrace, Alfred Street in Wells.


BIT25565 Calton Rd

Calton Road as it was before demolition and extensive remodelling in the late 1960s. Percy Ware lived here with his aunt & uncle in his early years. [Image: Bath In Time


Percy would probably have begun his schooling aged 5 in around 1900 and his nearest school would have been the ‘Widcombe Schools’ (later St Mark’s School), next to St Mark’s church (now art studios).

In 1902 Percy’s foster parents moved to 23 Livingstone Road, at which point he would probably have transferred to South Twerton School. The family then moved to 65 Coronation Avenue in 1904.


65 Coronation Av

65 Coronation Avenue, where Percy lived with his aunt & uncle after 1904.


In 1911, at the time of the next census, Percy was 17 and had left school. He was listed as a ‘Tailor’s Presser’ but we do not know where he worked. His natural mother Mary Ann was by now a housekeeper in the employment of a farmer in Pilton. Both James and his mother were listed as 'Weare' in the 1911 census.


Percy Ware in WW1

North Somerset Yeomanry

Percy joined up in response to the outbreak of war in August 1914 and enlisted with the North Somerset Yeomanry in Bath. His serial number was 1797.

We would like to know more about Percy's time with the NSY.

Dorsetshire Regiment, 5th Bn.

We know that Percy transferred to the Dorset Regiment and took the serial number 19222.

From The Keep Military Museum (history website of the Dorsetshire Regiment):

“Soldiers with numbers in the 19,000 block were reinforcements sent to the 5th Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment to replace casualties. Many of these came from the 3rd Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry (special reservists) or North Somerset Yeomanry.”

Percy’s serial number was 19222, which corroborates this. We do not know exactly when he was transferred, but Harold Carless (another name from the South Twerton plaque), who also transferred to the 5th Dorsets received the serial number 19107. A search on the Internet  yields the story of a George Fox, including the details:

George enlisted into the 4th Reserve Battalion of North Somerset Yeomanry at Bath, Somerset on 1st June 1915. He embarked for France from Southampton on 22nd September 1916, landing at Rouen the next day. He was transferred to the Dorset Regiment on 4th October 1916 with a new service number of 19187.

(http://www.chelmsfordwarmemorial.co.uk/Chelmsford_War_Memorial/FOX,_GEORGE.html)

Hence we can be fairly sure that Percy and Harold both joined the 5th Dorsets around the same date and that Claude Warren (another name from the South Twerton plaque who joined the 5th Dorsets from the Somerset Light Infantry with the serial number 19482) must have joined shortly afterwards, if not at the same time.

This date in October 1916 would have brought in reinforcements necessitated by the losses during the course of the battles of the Somme late in that year. The 5th Dorsets (in 34th Brigade) remained around the same area on the river Ancre for the remainder of the Somme and into 1917. The skirmishes known as ‘Operations on the Ancre’ which took place from January 1917 are not described in much detail in many sources, and it is hard to find specific reference to the 5th Dorsets at this time.


Percy Ware's Death

Thanks to the help of researchers at The Keep Military Museum who welcomed the author in summer 2016 in Dorchester, the following details of the 5th Dorsets action on 11th January is known, with the following notes copied from www.keepmilitarymuseum.org website and more details on file, copied from the published unit diary. These were actions which took place in the Ancre valley, near Beaucourt-Hamel.

January 11th: At 0640 hours, ‘A’ and ‘D’ Companies under the command of Captain Ritson and Lieutenant Shephard respectively advanced behind a barrage and achieved their initial objectives capturing fourteen of the enemy. Unfortunately the weather turned, a thick fog and a blinding snowstorm held up progress. ‘C’ Company, which had been ready to support, did not receive word until 09.30. 

January 11th: ‘D’ Company were forced to retreat after being attacked by German bombers from a bank above. ‘A’ Company were also driven out of their position. Captain Ritson had to summon the assistance of ‘C’ Company, but when faced with retreating soldiers, ‘C’ Company ended up covering the retreat. Casualties were heavy; Lieutenant Shephard and twenty-five others were killed. 2nd Lieutenants Bateman and Keeley and ninety others mainly from ‘D’ Company were missing. 2nd Lieutenants Straughan & Wanstall and fifty men wounded. 2nd Lieutenant Bateman, Company Sergeant Major Riddle and nearly fifty men were reported to be prisoners. This turned out to be the Battalion’s last experience in the Somme area.

We don't know which was Percy Ware's company. Harold Carless was also killed in this action.


Decoration

Percy Ware's medal card survives and shows he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-18 and the Allied Victory Medal posthumously.

British War Medal 1914-18Allied Victory Medal
British War Medal 1914-18Allied Victory Medal

Commemoration

Ware on S Twerton memorial

In addition to his commemoration on the South Twerton School memorial, Private Percy Ware is commemorated as follows:

Thiepval

The Thiepval Memorial commemorates those who died with no known grave in the battles of the Somme. It is the largest British battle memorial in the world. A large inscription on an internal surface of the memorial reads:

“Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”
Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial, where Percy Ware is commemorated, along with Harold Carless (who died on the same day), Percy Whiting, and George Collins.


In July 2016, Mike and Kathy Sumsion from Bath visited the Thiepval Memorial and kindly sent back the following photographs of the inscription for Percy Ware:

Percy Ware on Thiepval Memorial
Ware on Thiepval Memorial

Dorset Regiment Memorial

Along with all others who fought and died with the Dorsetshire Regiment on the Western Front, Percy Ware is commemorated on this memorial, which is a recent addition to the landscape of the battlefields of the Western Front and stands in the shadow of the Thiepval memorial.

Dorsetshire Regiment Memorial
Photo from www.wessexwfa.org.uk

Bath War Memorial

See separate page for details of the Bath War Memorial. Percy Ware's inscription:

Percy Ware on Bath War Memorial

Lyncombe Parish (St Mark's) Memorial (now at Mary Magdalen Chapel, Holloway)

Percy Ware is one of four of the South Twerton soldiers to be commemorated on a plaque that was installed in St Mark’s church in 1920. Having lived in Calton Road and attended the Widcombe School, St Mark’s would have been Percy’s local church in his early years. When St Mark’s was deconsecrated and decommissioned (it is now a community centre and pre-school), the memorial tablet was removed to St Mary Magdalen Chapel, Holloway, where it is displayed directly opposite the entrance.

More details of this memorial are available on the Other Memorials page.

Lyncombe St Marks Memorial

Percy Ware’s name on the Lyncombe St Mark’s memorial plaque, which can now be seen in Magdalen Chapel on Holloway. It is fascinating that he went through life as Percy James Ware, yet this memorial gives his 'correct' middle initial ‘G’ (Percy Gould Ware).

ercy Ware on Lyncombe Memorial

Ascension Church Memorial

Percy Ware's name is inscribed on the oak tablet in the Ascension Church (see separate page for details of the Ascension Church Memorial), commensurate with his home being at Coronation Avenue. It also gives the correct middle initial:

Ware on Ascension Memorial

Further Information

Living relatives

It would be great to hear from any other living relatives of Percy Ware/Weare.

Please get in touch!

If you have any further information on Percy Ware/Weare or want to suggest corrections  / improvements for this page, please use the Contact page to get in touch.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Mike Sumsion for the photographs from the Thiepval Memorial.