Sapper Percy Molland
'L' Signal Company, Royal Engineers
Percy Molland was living in Newbury and he enlisted at Hungerford. His father was Richard, a carpenter, living in Hollacombe (within the parish of Winkleigh) in Devon. His mother was Bessie and they had 4 children.
In 1911 Percy now 24 was a boarder in the house of Marian Waddington, a widow of 54, with her daughter Winifred, a school teacher living in Fairview Road, Hungerford. Percy was a sorting clerk and telegraphist.
After the war started he enlisted into the Royal Engineers as a telephone operator and served in L Signal Company. He died of pneumonia (Spanish flu) on the 11th November 1918, aged 32 (the day peace was declared) at the 46th CCS (Casualty clearing station).
He is buried in Fillievres British Cemetery, 44km west of Arras. He is commemorated on the war memorial at this home village at Winkleigh in Devon. Locally in addition to being listed on the war memorial he is also listed on the Town Hall memorial board and in St Lawrence's Church, so clearly he must have made a local impact during his stay in the town.
- The cap badge of the Royal Engineers
- The war memorial at Winkleigh in Devon showing Sapper Molland's name.
As Percy was a Telegraphist in civilian life it was natural for him to be posted to a Signal Battalion within the Royal Engineers. (The Royal Signals were not formed at this point). He was in effect a square peg in a square hole. The 'L' signal Battalions was the armies' version of the GPO. They did not come under divisional command, but laid hundreds of miles of telephone wires, between armies and divisions. Each signal office was an extremely busy place, thousands of messages were handled too and fro by the signallers, who were required to man the phones and 'Buzzers' 24 hours a day, in case of attack. They worked long hours in shifts, in addition to being out sometimes all night mending breaks in the wires, or digging in new routes, often a muddy and dangerous job. The Signal Companies were working almost continuously, where perhaps the individual Battalions would periodically be at rest during their time out of the line. The signallers would be working flat out repairing shell damage, improving the network, and preparing for the next move.
[We are indebted to Robert Side who researched this soldier in Winkleigh, Devon and made his research available to us]