Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte P Mann
1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
The first nineteen years of Percy Mann’s life must have been relatively uneventful; sharing a home with his parents William Thomas and Elizabeth Maria (nee Jarvis) Mann and his eight siblings, attending St James’ School and then joining a local firm as a solicitor’s clerk. The last two years of his life saw him travel way beyond all that was familiar – to India, then to Mesopotamia (Iraq) which became his final resting place. His father’s family hailed from Dorset and his mother’s from Weybridge, where the family made their home at Kimberley, Mount Pleasant. Percy’s father was a builder and at least two of his siblings joined the family business. He had three brothers and five sisters: Frederick, Dorothy, Daisy, Olive, Herbert, Alice, William (died in infancy) and Mona. Percy was born in Weybridge in the summer of 1895.
He enlisted in Kingston-upon-Thames and was then posted to the 1/6th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment which at this stage was part of the Surrey Brigade in the Home Counties Division. Percy’s unit embarked at Southampton on 29 October 1914 and completed their journey at Bombay on 2 December. The Division was now broken up with the 1/6th East Surreys being transferred to the Allahabad Brigade in the 8th Lucknow Division. In March 1915 they moved again, this time to the Rawalpindi 4th Brigade in the 2nd Rawalpindi Division. This division’s responsibility was to maintain security in India especially on the NW Frontier; to this end Percy and his comrades were sent to posts at Murree Hill Station on the southern slopes of the Western Himalayas in April 1915. The following October they transferred to the 5th Jhelum Brigade in the same division.
The Rawalpindi Division remained in India throughout the war so Percy’s burial at a cemetery in Amara, a town beside the River Tigris in Mesopotamia is puzzling. He died of illness in a town which since it had been occupied by the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force in June 1915 had been a hospital centre. Only two other members of the East Surrey Regiment are buried in the same cemetery; a Lance Corporal of the 2nd Battalion and a Private of the 1/5th Battalion who died in May 1916 and August 1915 respectively. Neither of their units was based in Mesopotamia at the time.
Percy’s brothers Frederick and Herbert also served in the First World War; the former in the Royal Army Service Corps and the latter with the Canadian forces. Herbert had arrived in Canada in June 1913. Both survived. Sometime after the 1911 Census the Mann family moved to Harvest Road in West Kilburn.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – East Surrey Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Madelaine Harman Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk