Percival James Tickner (1896-1974) was born on April 21, 1896 in Westfield, near Woking, Surrey. He attended Worplesdon Primary School in Perry Hill, Worplesdon, Surrey, the family having lived in Perry Hill, Worplesdon, from between 1905 and 1907. In the 1911 Census taken on April 2, 1911, he was given as Percival Tickner (14), ‘Chauffeur Assistant Domestic’. He was probably living in Worplesdon when he enlisted. The army had grown in size from 386,000 men in August 1914 to 825,000 by September 1914, and it was intended to increase it to 1.2 million men in the field shortly after that.
During the 1st World War (1914-1918) he served in the British Army as a mounted nursing auxiliary. He had joined the Army Service Corps (ASC) and was in the second batch of volunteers to be sent to France. He was a good horse-rider, and he worked with the horse-ambulance, his task was often to ride into the middle of the battlefield to pick up the wounded. He at one point suffered from the effects of poison gas.
Only about 30% of Service Records (WO 363 – Burnt Records; or WO 364 Unburnt Records) from the 1st World War still exist, and it would appear that his records are not amongst them, as those that have survived have all been digitised and are now on Ancestry.com.
The 139th Field Ambulance of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) was part of the 41st Division and it operated in the war from December 1915 until November 1918. War Diaries on their activities are held in the National Archives: files WO 95/2629 (May 1916 to October 1917) and (March 1918 to October 1919), as well as WO 95/4242 (November 1917 to February 1918) for the period they were in Italy.
The Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit. Most of them came under command of a Division, and had a special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades in the Division. Each Division had three Field Ambulances. The theoretical capacity of the Field Ambulance was 150 casualties, but in battle many would simply be overwhelmed by numbers. The Ambulance was responsible for establishing and operating a number of points along the casualty evacuation chain, from the Bearer Relay Posts which were up to 600 yards behind the Regimental Aid Posts, through the Advanced Dressing Station (ADS), to the Main Dressing Station (MDS). It also provided a Walking Wounded Collecting Station, as well as various rest areas and local sick rooms. The Ambulances would usually establish 1 ADS per Brigade, and 1 MDS for the Division.
Photo 1 attached
Percy Tickner with his mother, Emma Maria Tickner (née Pearce), dated 1917 (It is not clear if this is correct because it is not clear that he had had leave in 1917, although he did in February 1918).
The 41st Division was formed at Aldershot in September 1915. The majority of the units that comprised the Division were originally locally-raised ones, primarily from the south of England. The Division moved to France between May 1 and 6 1916 and by May 8 had concentrated between Hazebrouck and Bailleul. The 139 Field Ambulance was under the command of Lt-Col. John Francis Crombie (1870-1936)1, and the leading operating officer was Capt. T.F. Corkill. They left Farnborough, Hampshire, for Southampton, and went thence to Le Havre, before going on to Strazelle, Caestre to arrive at Bailleul, where they were based until September 1916.
The 41st Division remained on the Western Front until October 1917 and took part in the following engagements:
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*
The Battle of the Transloy Ridges*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916
During September 1916 the 139 Field Ambulance moved to Eronies, as the advances began, and in October were operating in Bécordel and Thistle Alley. In November 1916 Capt. R.L. Impey played a more important role in the 139 Field Ambulance.
The Battle of Messines
The Battle of Pilkem Ridge^
The Battle of the Menin Road^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917
Operations on the Flanders coast
From January to March 1917 the 139 Field Ambulance was based at Vierstraat in Belgium, and then with the advances in April 1917 moved to Hippender in May and Wippenhoek siding in June 1917, followed by Voormezeele in July 1917, Brasserie, near St. Eloi in August 1917, and then in Voormezeele and La Clytte in September and October 1917.2
At one point Percival suffered from severe frost-bite and was hospitalised. One of the nurses who looked after him was called “Delphine”, a name he later gave as a middle name to his eldest daughter.
On November 7 1917, the Division was notified that it was to be transferred to Italy. The move (by train) began five days later, the 139 Field Ambulance going via Dijon, Marseille, Cannes and Nice to Ventimillia, and then on to Porcellengo and Falzo in December 1917, and to Conegliano and Falzo in January 1917. By November 18, 1917 all units had concentrated north west of Mantua. The Division took over a sector of front line behind the River Piave, north west of Treviso, between November 30 and December 2.
On February 28 1918, the Division concentrated in Campo San Piero, preparatory to returning to France. The War Diary for the 139 Field Ambulance for this period indicates that Pte P.J. Tickner (regimental number T/34806) (A.S.C. H.T) (Army Service Corps)3 was granted leave to England from February 18, 1918 to March 9, 19184, presumably then returning to the 139 Field Ambulance back in France after that. By March 9, 1918 it had completed concentration near Doullens and Mondicourt.
The Battle of St Quentin**
The Battle of Bapaume**
The Battle of Arras**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battles of the Lys
The Advance in Flanders
The Battle of Ypres++
The Battle of Courtrai++
The action of Ooteghem++
++ the battles marked ++ are phases of the Final Advance in Flanders
The units of the 41st Division were:
|12th Bn, the East Surrey Regiment||(Bermondsey)|
|15th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment||(2nd Portsmouth)|
|11th Bn, the Royal West Kent Regiment||(Lewisham) disbanded March 1918|
|18th Bn, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps||(Arts and Crafts)|
|122nd Machine Gun Company||joined May 1916, moved to 41st Bn MGC March 1918|
|122nd Trench Mortar Battery||joined June 1916|
|11th Bn, the Queen’s|
|10th Bn, the Royal West Kent Regiment||(Kent County)|
|23rd Bn, the Middlesex Regiment||(2nd Football)|
|20th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry||(Wearside) left for 124th Bde March 1918|
|123rd Machine Gun Company||joined June 1916, moved to 41st Bn MGC March 1918|
|123rd Trench Mortar Battery||joined June 1916|
|10th Bn, the Queen’s|
|26th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers|
|32nd Bn, the Royal Fusiliers||disbanded March 1918|
|21st Bn, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps||(Yeomen Rifles) disbanded March 1918|
|124th Machine Gun Company||joined June 1916, moved to 41st Bn MGC March 1918|
|124th Trench Mortar Battery||joined June 1916|
|20th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry||(Wearside) joined from 123rd Bde March 1918|
|13th Bn, the East Surrey Regiment||(Wandsworth) left October 1915|
|23rd Bn, the Middlesex Regiment||(2nd Public Works) joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn October 1915|
|238th Machine Gun Company||joined July 1917, left October 1917|
|199th Machine Gun Company||joined October 1917, moved to 41st Bn MGC March 1918|
|41st Battalion MGC||formed March 1918|
|Divisional Mounted Troops|
|B Sqn, the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry||left 31 May 1916|
|41st Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps||left 28 May 1916|
|CLXXXIII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA||broken up November 1916|
|CLXXXVII Brigade, RFA|
|CLXXXIX Brigade, RFA||left January 1917|
|CXC Brigade, RFA|
|41st Divisional Ammunition Column RFA||(West Ham)|
|V.41 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA||formed July 1916; disbanded October 1917|
|X.41, Y.41 and Z.41 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA||formed May 1916; in April 1918, Z broken up and batteries re-organised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each|
|XIII Belgian Field Artillery Regiment||attached January to May 1917|
|228th (Barnsley) Field Company|
|233rd (Ripon) Field Company|
|237th (Reading) Company|
|41st Divisional Signals Company|
|Royal Army Medical Corps|
|138th Field Ambulance|
|139th Field Ambulance|
|140th Field Ambulance|
|84th Sanitary Section||left April 1917|
|Other Divisional Troops|
|41st Divisional Train ASC||296, 297, 298 and 299 Companies|
|52nd Mobile Veterinary Section AVC|
|41st Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop||left May 1916|
The War Diary of the 139 Field Ambulance for April 6, 1918 noted that Capt. T.F. Corkill was wounded on March 23, 1918. In May 1918 the 139 Field Ambulance was based at Lebbe Farm, and by July 1918 in Wippenhoek. The forward units of the Division were at Nederbrakel, Tenbosch and on the line of the River Dender near Grammont when the Armistice brought fighting to an end. During the War the 41st Division had 32,158 men killed, wounded or missing. There is no published history or memorial to the 41st Division.
2nd Photo attached
Lance Corporal Percy Tickner on his horse, “Peggy” during the 1st World War
The 41st Division was selected to join the Army of Occupation. The 139 Field Ambulance was in Moorseele, Vichte, Kerkhove and eventually Ghoy in November 1918 and then in Ghoy, Ermite and Moxhe in December 1918. The Division began to move on December 18, 1918, going via Enghien – Hal – Braine ‘Alleud – Sombreffe – Temploux – north of Namur and Huy, but the 139 Field Ambulance was still in Moxhe in January, and on January 28, 1919, Acting Lance-Corporal P. Tickner (R.A.S.C., H.T.) (regimental number T/34806) was among the 12 people for the next leave roster. On January 6, 1919 the move was completed by train and on January 12, 1919 the Division took over the left section of the Cologne bridgehead, and Percy does not appear to have taken his leave. De-mobilisation began; on March 15, 1919. The Division was re-titled the London Division.
Percy was still in Germany in April 1919, where at the London Divisional Race Meeting in Cologne he won “The Deutz Chase” as Lance-Corporal Tickner of the 139 Field Ambulance on his horse “Peggy”. Now under Lieut-Col. F.R. Laing the 139 Field Ambulance was based in Deutz in April and May 1919, and Rospath in June 1919. Percy had fallen from a horse in Germany and was in No. 44 C.C.S. but on June 4, 1919 Acting Lance Corporal P. Tickner (R.A.S.C., H.T.) was recorded as having been taken back into the unit1. He was de-mobbed early, on June 11, 1919, because of an injury from this fall, going with No.3 Company London Divisional Train prior to demobilization as Driver P.J. Tickner (R.A.S.C, H.T.) (Regimental number T/34806) and had returned home to Worplesdon, Surrey by June 23, 1919.
His brother, Frederick (“Fred”) Thomas Tickner (1899-1952) (born May 25, 1899 in Westfield, near Woking, Surrey) also served over in France in the Royal Flying Corps from 1916, but was not de-mobbed till 1921.
November 3, 2013
1 War Diary of the 139 Field Ambulance for the period March 1918-October 1919 in WO 95/2629 in TNA.
1He was buried in the Old Churchyard at St Thomas-on-The Bourne, Farnham, Surrey.
2 War Diary of the 139 Field Ambulance for May 1916 to October 1917 in WO 95/2629 in TNA
3 H.T. may have stood for Heavy Transport.
4 War Diary of the 139 Field Ambulance for November 1917 to February 1918 in WO 95/4242 in TNA.