|Grave of Private Percy Graham, Portianou Military Cemetery, Portianos, Lemnos. Photograph Jim Claven 2013.|
One of the diggers who fought at Gallipoli was young Percy Graham, who had been born in Richmond in 1893 – who enlisted as Private No 1754 in the 5th Battalion.
When he enlisted at Melbourne on 5th December 1914 he was 21 years old, 8 months. Standing at over 5 and half feet, he was recorded as having brown hair, grey eyes and a “fresh” complexion. His religion was Anglican. He had worked as a labourer, unmarried and living with is parents - David Arthur and Florence Graham at 11 Richmond Terrace, Richmond. As a labourer, Percy was one of 30% of the AIF who came from his occupation - along with 34% who were tradesmen.
Percy was one of the nearly 1,500 Richmond men who volunteered up to March 1915, as Richmond historian Janet McCalman has recorded.
The Australian War memorial records that Percy’s Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions it was recruited from Victoria and, together with these battalions, formed the 2nd Brigade.
|HMAT Wiltshire. AWM image.|
Percy embarked from Princes Pier in Melbourne as part of the reinforcements for the 5th Battalion. He sailed on 14th April aboard the HMAT Wiltshire (designated A18).
Percy did not take part in the Anzac landings in April or the battle of Krithia thst the 5th took part in – the latter of which saw it lose a third of its strength.
Percy arrived at Gallipoli and was taken on strength with the 5th Battalion at Anzac Cove on 13 July 1915.During his service here at this time, he would have taken part in defending the beachhead and in August taken part in the battle of Lone Pine on 6-9 August 1915.
Percy thus took part in one of the most famous assaults of the Gallipoli campaign. This was originally intended as a diversion from attempts by New Zealand and Australian units to force a breakout from the ANZAC perimeter on the heights of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971. The Lone Pine attack, launched in the late afternoon of 6 August 1915 pitched Australian forces against formidable entrenched Turkish positions, sections of which were securely roofed over with pine logs. In some instances the attackers had to break in through the roof of the trench systems in order to engage the defenders. The main Turkish trench was taken within 20 minutes of the initial charge but this was the prelude to 4 days of intense hand-to-hand fighting, resulting in over 2,000 Australian casualties.
|No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital, Turks Head Peninsula, Lemnos, 1915. AWM image.|
Like many other diggers at Gallipoli, Percy did not die of wounds on the battlefield but from the unhealthy conditions prevailing on the peninsula. He contracted acute meningitis and was sent to the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital on Lemnos. Here he would have been cared for by the Australian medical staff, including its Australian nurses. He sadly died on 15th September 1915.
|Photograph Jim Claven 2015|
His personal effects included a wristwatch, some cards and letters – presumably from home.
At the end of the war, his family were sent his medals - Victory Medal, 1914-15 Star and the British War medal – along with his Memorial Plaque. In 1922 his father was sent photographs of the temporary cross erected on Percy’s grave at East Mudros.
|Example of the Next of Kin plaque - the same as the one awarded to Percy's family. AWM image|
Lest we forget
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee