Stop number Blue 11: Facing the inscription for Mary Peddle look to your right and you will see the CWGC grave for P Wingrove.
CWGC grave for P Wingrove
Read the story below and when you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for A Montague.
P F Wingrove's grave
Rayners Lodge, London Road (SWOP RHW51102)
Percy Wingrove (1896-1919)
My name is Percy Freeman Wingrove and I was born in 1896 in Loudwater, High
Wycombe. Although we weren’t rich we were better off than many as my father was a
foreman at the local paper mill. He was in charge of the rag department where the material
was sorted before it was made into paper. My older sister worked in the same department
and once I left school, aged 14, I also worked in the mill. There were lots of paper mills
in Loudwater at that time. We lived at the lodge, which you can still see at the junction of
London Road and Rayners Avenue. I had two older sisters and two younger ones as well,
along with a younger brother – it was a full household!
In 1911 I decided to join the army – it seemed more exciting than working in the mill – and
I joined the local regiment, the 1st Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. At first I was stationed in
India and then, at the outbreak of the war, I was sent directly from India with the first party
to the Persian Gulf to fight the Turks who had sided with the Germans. We needed to
protect our interests in the oil fields in Mesopotamia (which is now called Iraq). We arrived
in November 1914 and had our first experience of fighting the Turks just outside a town
called Basra. We managed to push them back but it was very difficult. The Turks had
managed to get many of the Arabs to help them by calling it a Jihad, a holy war, saying
Christians were attacking Muslims. It was extremely hot and dusty and in late 1914 I was
diagnosed with malaria; it was horrible and I had a dreadful fever. They evacuated me
away from the Gulf and sent me back to India as unfit for frontline service. I later found out that
many of those I served with died after the Siege of Kut when we surrendered to the Turks.
I have heard the battle described as the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history
– over 70% of the 13,000 men died in captivity after the surrender, although the generals
lived out the war in luxury.
I was sent to the military hospital at our base at Wellington in southern India. It’s where
the Indian army’s staff college is based now. While I was recovering I helped the chaplain
with his Christian work with other soldiers and some of the locals. Although I was getting
better I was still considered unfit for active service against the Germans so was I was then
transferred to the Ox and Bucks Garrison Battalion. Garrison Battalions were made up of
soldiers like me considered unfit for front line duty. They were sent to various parts of the
empire on garrison duties to release fit soldiers for front line duty. The Ox and Bucks were
based in Bellary which was one of the British garrisons in the south of India. While I was
based here I heard the sad news that my mother had died. Finally after six years serving
overseas I was told I was returning to England. I still had not recovered; the doctors tell me
that some people never recover from malaria. It was a long journey aboard a ship called
the SS Neuralia, which was an ambulance ship helping troops return after the war. Twenty five
years later the boat took part in the Normandy landings on D Day. It was on this journey
that my condition started to deteriorate until I eventually lost my battle with the disease.
I died on board on Sunday 16th November aged 26; I’d almost made it back - we were in
sight of England.
My body was taken back home via railway from Plymouth to High Wycombe, where my
funeral took place on the 20th November 1919, four days after my death. With my family
grieving of their loss, the friends I had made on the S.S Neuralia sent a beautiful artificial
wreath to place on my grave.
P F Wingrove researched by Kristian Stavrou, performed by Matthew Crane