LIEUTENANT ANTHONY PERCIVAL
MACHINE GUN CORPS
15TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 25
BURIED: ST SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN, FRANCE
Well, this wasn't what I was expecting. From his personal inscription, which his mother chose, I had created an image of a cherished only child at the heart of a loving family. Instead of which I found that Leila Percival had divorced her husband (Tony) in 1909 for "adultery coupled with cruelty".
In 1901, at the age of 9, Percival was living - the census says nephew not visitor - with his uncle, Arthur Strauss, at 1 Kensington Palace Gardens, even then one of the best addresses in London. Arthur was married to Leila's sister Minna Cohen. 'Tony', a photographer, and Leila lived in Maida Vale. By the time of the 1911 census Anthony Percival had emigrated to Canada. At which time his mother, now a widow, was living alone in London. Hardly the happy family I'd envisaged from the inscription.
From Canada, where he worked in a bank, Percival enlisted on 24 October 1914. From information Leila Percival gave to the Imperial War Museum when she sent it a photograph of her son for their collection, she says that he served initially with the 28th Saaskatchewan Battalion, Canadian Infantry, then in August 1915 received a commission in the 14th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before transferring in March 1916 to the Machine Gun Corps. He went to France in August that year, served with the 95th Company and died of wounds in hospital in St Sever on 15 October 1917. There is no information as to where, when or how he was wounded.