Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte P J Mepsted
596th Mechanical Transport Company, Army Service Corps
Percy John Mepsted’s marital home was at 4, Glencoe Road in Weybridge. He and his wife, Lavinia (nee Jenkin) were married on 3 September 1913 at the Parish Church of All Souls in Langham Place, Westminster. At the time of the marriage he was a salesman of 126, Sheringham Avenue, Manor Park and his wife’s home was at 34, Harley Street. Lavinia’s father, James, was a gardener and Percy’s father, John Horton Mepsted, a farmer. John and Jane (nee Ridge) Mepsted were residents of Tunbridge Wells when Percy was born in 1887; his birth was registered in the last quarter of the year. By 1891 their home was in St. Peter Street and a daughter, Poppy, had been born two years earlier. At this stage John was a butcher’s assistant. Ten years later he was managing a butcher’s business and the family had moved to High Street, St. Margaret’s, St. Margaret at Cliffe, Dover. A second daughter, Charlotte had been born c.1892. Percy was on the brink of starting his working life and in 1911 he is highly likely to be the Percy Mepsted who was an ironmongery salesman lodging in West Ham. In Weybridge he was employed by Mr M B Lane in his grocery and wine merchant’s store on Monument Green.
He enlisted in Weybridge and became a driver in the Army Service Corps (ASC). A period of instruction would have followed; as a salesman he may well have been able to drive already but was probably not familiar with the heavy vehicles of the ASC. They drove three ton and thirty hundred weight lorries as well as ambulances. Percy was posted to India. In October 1913 an article on ‘Mechanical Transport for India’ by Hydrocarbon in the Journal of the Supply Transport Corps (India) and reprinted in the ASC’s Quarterly Journal in January 1914 argued that mechanical transport in the sub-Continent was not a matter of urgency but would be especially useful in delivering fresh supplies to troops, and should be employed within 200 miles of the NW Frontier to ‘… accompany any minor expeditions.’ Protecting this frontier was a key role for Indian and British troops. Bombay (now Mumbai), where Percy died, became a hub for the movement of men and supplies. No doubt mechanical transport proved its worth.
He died of heat related illness on 4 August 1917 and was buried the following day by Chaplain F. H. Bettison at Sewri Cemetery in the Archdeaconry and Diocese of Bombay. In 1962 the remains of 629 servicemen in this cemetery were removed to Kirkee, a military cantonment attached to the town of Poona on the plateau above Bombay.
Percy’s widow remained in Weybridge and at the time of her marriage to Lieutenant Clyde Cameron-Stuart, HMATS RNV at St. James’ Church on 27 November 1919 she lived at 6, Hinton Cottages, Church Walk.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – The Army Service Corps, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932, www.ancestry.co.uk
Kelly’s Directory, 1913, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919, www.findmypast.co.uk
Weybridge, Local Casualties, Surrey Advertiser, Monday, 20 August 1917