Percy Charles Walker MM* BEM

Percy Walker was born in Sawston on September 9th, 1891, the youngest child of Cephas and Mary Ann Walker. In 1903 his father died and shortly after that the young Percy found work around the village as a domestic gardener.

When the Territorial Force was created in 1908, Percy was among the first to join the newly created Cambridgeshire Battalion (later named the Cambridgeshire Regiment). He played an active part in the local detachment, becoming a Lance Corporal a year after joining and attending the annual camps for the next few years. In late 1911, with his commitment to the Territorial Force completed, Percy decided to move to London, near to where his older brother was living in Kensington.

When the War broke out in August 1914 Percy was determined to return to his old regiment and held off enlisting till he heard they were recruiting. Travelling up from London he attested at Cambridge on September 14th 1914 and was given the army number 2761. Arriving on the Western Front with the 1/1st Cambs in February 1915, Percy proved to be an excellent soldier and was soon promoted. Alongside his duties as an NCO in B Company he was also one of the Battalion’s spare machine gun specialists. By late 1915 he left B Company and permanently joined the Cambs Machine Gun Section.

In late March 1916, the now Lance Sergeant Walker and around 40 other Cambs machine gunners transferred over to the recently formed Machine Gun Corps. The “Cambs Gunners” remained closely linked to their old regiment forming part of the 118th Machine Gun Company, the dedicated machine gun unit for the brigade the Cambs were part of.

By the late summer of 1916 Percy was serving on the Somme. During the Cambs now famous attack on the Schwaben Redoubt the 118th MG Company provided guns and crews to advance with the assault. Many of the gunners who volunteered for this role were from the former Cambs Machine Gun Section, including Percy. For his bravery during the bitter fighting that followed he was awarded the Military Medal.

In the summer of 1917 the muddy Passchendaele Offensive had begun and Percy was once again in the thick of the fighting. On September 26th the 118th Brigade attacked at Tower Hamlets, to the east of Ypres. The now Sergeant Walker once again took his gun and team up in close support of the Cambridgeshires attack, providing vital fire support. Once again his selfless bravery was recognised with the award of a bar to his Military Medal.

Percy married his fiancée, Rose, in late 1917 at Wantage, Berkshire while home from the front. He was finally discharged from the Army early in 1919 and settled in Didcot. Within days of his discharge he found work with the RAF as a civilian at the nearby Maintenance Depot, based at RAF Milton, Berkshire. He proceeded to work for the RAF for the next 36 years.

For his tireless and dedicated service to RAF Maintenance Command during the Second World War, Percy was awarded the British Empire Medal in June 1945. He finally retired in August 1956 and his BEM was complemented with the award of the Imperial Service Medal for his long service. He died in Berkshire in 1969.

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Percy in early 1916.

This site went live on the 14th February 2015 to mark  100 years since the 1/1st Cambs went off to war.


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