Private 21206 Percy Toone

Private 21206 Percy Toone

2nd/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment).

He enlisted on the 8th December 1915 with the Army Reserve, mobilised on the 25th January 1916 and posted to the Depot of the Leicestershire Regiment, then to their Labour Battalion before being transferred on the 25th March 1916 to the 12th Battalion West Riding Regiment.

He served in France from the 1st April 1916 and on the 17th January 1917 admitted to a Field Hospital with abrasions to his heels. He was transferred to a Casualty Clearing Station, then a General Hospital as part of a Sick Convoy on the 29th January 1917. On No. 27 Ambulance Train he returned to England on the 12th February 1917. Posted to the Depot of the Leicestershire Regiment, then to the 3rd Battalion of the West Riding Regiment on the 2nd June 1917 before transfer to their 8th Battalion and out to Boulogne, France on the 3rd October 1917. Arriving at Etaples on the 5th October 1917 he was then posted to the 2nd/4th Battalion West Riding Regiment.

Percy Toone was reported missing, killed in action on the 21st November 1917 aged 22 years at the Battle of Cambrai, Western Front, and has no known grave.

Commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, France, Panel Ref: Panel 6 and 7.

The son of Joseph William and Mary Ann Toone they lived at Town Green, Rothley. Brother to Reginald, Emily Hilda, Charles Lawrence, Cyril and Ethel.

Named on the War Memorial, Parish Church Triptych Roll of Honour and on a plaque in Rothley Methodist Church, Howe Lane, Rothley. The plaque was originally on the wooden altar table in the Rothley Primitive Methodist Church, Mountsorrel Lane but when this was closed in the 1960's the plaque was re-located to the Rothley Wesleyan Methodist Church in Howe Lane




Reference Map MOEVUES 1/20.000

1. General

About 5.00am orders were received at Battalion Hdqrs. for the further advance of the Brigade.

ll. Objectives

The Battalion objectives were the village of ANNEUX, ANNEUX CHAPEL and cross roads at E.19. c.29 with the final objective along what subsequently a spit-locked trench from F.20.c.13 to E.24 to 8.6.

Six tanks were allotted for the entry into ANNEUX and they were to subsequently move to the left along the Battalion objective. A 20 minutes artillery barrage was put down on the objective and these lifted 400 yards beyond.

The Divisional Machine Gun Coy. Also put down a barrage about F.19.d and F.20.c as soon as the Infantry and the Tanks moved on ANNEUX from the road in K.6.b.

lll. Dispositions of Attack

The Commanding Officer met Company Commanders in GRAINCOURT about 7.00am and issued vital orders for the advance which was timed to take place at 10am. "C" Company with "A" Company echeloned to the right were ordered to capture ANNUEX VILLAGE with final objective F.20.c.13 to F.19.b.05. "B" Coy. With "D" Coy.In support were ordered to capture ANNEUX CHAPEL with final objective F.19.b.05 to HDQrs. were to be established at GRAINCOURT CEMETERY AT e.30.C (CENTRAL).

IV Tanks

It was arranged with the officer commanding the Tanks that two tanks would move on either flank of the village and that two would go through the main street each pair having one platoon of the Infantry of the leading company. Owing to the difficulties in traversing GRAINCOURT village the attack did not commence 'til about 10.20am.

V. The Advance on and Capture of ANNEUX VILLAGE

Led by the six tanks as above described "C" Coy. Advanced on to a three platoon frontage followed by "A" Coy. Echeloned on the outer or right flank which was entirely in the air. The enemy were holding the trenches south of the village in considerable force and offered strong opposition with machine gun fire but on the near approach of the infantry they in some cases speedily surrendered and others fought 'til they were wiped out with the bayonet.

The machine gun fire along the trenches on the Eastern side of the village gave the tanks plenty of work but followed closely be the Infantry sections all opposition was overcome.

In the village a considerable amount of sniping was met with from windows but the using of the Lewis Gun fired from the hip overcame this opposition and the platoon pushed on to the further end of the village mopping up en route. The platoon which moved via the Western flank experienced considerable and more costly opposition from the machine gun fire about the Chapel Cross Roads and found great difficulty in moving at one time. "C" Coy. However were finally able to push through and establish themselves at the Northern edges of the village where they re-organised preparatory to the further intended advance on the final objective. No further progress could however be made due to numerous enemy machine guns placed in well camouflaged positions. Numerous enemy posts listed in F.19.c & d on the reverse slopes of the spur running N.E. while machine guns enfiladed any further advance from the vicinity of the chapel.

The supporting company meanwhile had moved forward well outside the south east edge of the village acting on the exposed flank which was in the air. They, after considerable mopping up of enemy parties reached the line of the road about F.25.b.0.4. They similarly found any further advance impossible. The two company commanders thereupon decided to entrench and found a series of posts around the N. and N.E. edges of the village. "A" Coy. From about F.25.b.0.4 to Cross Roads F.25.a.5.4. "C" Coy. From F.25a.5.9. to F.25.a.1.7. Both companies were subjected to heavy gun fire during the afternoon but escaped any direct hits on their posts.

Vl Vickers Guns

During the day five Vickers Guns were sent up to assist in holding the village. 4 were placed on the Eastern flank about F25 central while one gun came into action about F.25.a.3.8.

Vll Advance on and Capture of ANNEUX CHAPEL Ground

The advance was down an open valley without cover of any kind to be derived from banks, sunken roads or natural slope of the ground. Consequently very heavy casualties from machine gun fire were incurred by both companies during the day.

"B" Coy. Who had held the FACTORY night 20/21st November moved off at 10.00am astride of the CAMBRAI ROAD and came at once under heavy rifle and machine gun fire coming from the road immediately West of the Cross Roads. Though suffering many casualties the company gained ground up to about E.24.c.2.3. At this point 2/Lt Castle skilfully manoeuvred his platoon and by section covering fire rushed the buildings with two sections and killed and captured the enemy holding them. The company were thereupon signalled to advance. More enemy machine gun fire and rifle fire opened from the vicinity of the quarry E.24.c. and road leading to it. These guns were placed out of action and the enemy killed or captured. The quarry was bombed out with smoke bombs and further advance was now possible to the Sunken Road at E.24.b. Here however strong opposition was met both from a series of small posts in front of the road and also from the road itself. Again led by 2/Lt. Castle and assisted by a tank the sunken road was reached and enemy estimated to the number of 200 men were found. 2/Lt. Castle managed to detach a party of 40 who at once surrendered while all available Lewis Guns were turned on the remainder who were either killed or surrendered. After re-organising again in the Sunken Road a further advance was made towards the final objective-vis the ? line of trenches. This was reached and further progress made to the edge of the wood compelling enemy riflemen to retreat into the wood. The company commenced to consolidate in the ? line of trenches but finding the line untenable and being enfiladed by machine gun and rifle fire from the wood, withdrew after permission had been obtained to the Sunken Road in E.24.b. where they finally re-organised, consolidated and held the line. Shortly afterwards much was gained with the 2/7th Duke of Wellington's regt. Who were further to the north in the Sunken Road in E.24.a. By this time it was approaching darkness.

"D" Coy. and the supporting Coy. left the northern edges of GRAINCOURT at 10am and moved via the Sunken Road in E.30.a where they were held up for some considerable time by machine gun fire from enemy machine guns about E.19.c. They then moved north to the main CAMBRAI ROAD about the grid line E.24.c & d. where it was necessary to line the deep ditches on either side of the road owing to heavy machine gun fire. Subsequent progress brought them to the Sunken Road in E.24.b. and also the road in E.24.b.8.4. By the afternoon the strength of the Company was reduced to about 40 men and the farm buildings around ANNEUX CHAPEL were still held by the enemy. From the Sunken Road sections were organised to deal with the buildings and assisted by a tank they were cleared and about 30 prisoners taken from the cellars. The dug-outs in and adjacent to the Quarry at E.19.a.1.2. were also cleared of enemy.

By the evening the remnants of both "B" and "D" Coy-they had both suffered heavy casualties throughout the day- were concentrated in the Sunken Road about E.24.b. with posts by the Quarry and in and around ANNEUX CHAPEL.

Vlll Action of Cavalry

Towards dusk two squadrons of King Edwards Horse, who had been endeavouring to get forward throughout the day, went forward dismounted to the line of the road which joined the CHAPEL with the village. This very materially added to the strength of the line held by the 2/4th Coy. and effectively filled in a gap that had not been able to be filled.

lX Action of Tanks

These were of great assistance to the infantry throughout. The limited view available to their crew was however the cause of an unfortunate incident viz the firing with both 6 pounders and machine guns into the buildings at the Cross Roads E.24.c. central while held by the 2/4th. This caused about 10 casualties and more would have been incurred had not 2/Lt. Castle rushed out in face of their fire and stopped them in doing which he was slightly wounded.

X 2/Lt. Castle's conduct, gallantry and leadership throughout the day cannot be too highly spoken of. He organised every move and by sheer personality carried the companies forward with him. This is admitted by all officers and men in a most unhesitating manner.

Xll Machine Guns

13 enemy machine guns were estimated to have been put out of action during the day.

Xlll Other Forces

About 3pm the 51st Division were seen advancing on FONTAINE led by tanks.

XlV Relief

Soon after dusk the Battalion was withdrawn on relief by the 2/7th West Yorks. Of the 185th Brigade

The Battalion rested for the night (21/22) in rear of GRAINCOURT about K.11.a and formed a defensive line of posts. Here they remained all night (21/22) when they marched to billets in BERTINCOURT resting en route in HAVRINCOURT WOOD for about 6 hours. BERTINCOURT was reached about 11am on the 23rd.

Lieut. Col Cundy

Duke of Wellington's Regt.

Part of the Orders of the Day referred to pigeons:

13. Pigeons
Pigeons will be issued to "B" & "C" Coy. These will be in charge of the Coy. Pigeoneer who will remain with the O.C. Coy. Birds are for use on Z day and any birds not used by 3pm Z day must be released. One bird should be released as soon as objective is reached. Messages must not be written in indelible pencil.

The War Gratuity Notice dated 17th July 1919


Percy Toone's name on the Cambrai Memorial