Private Percy Wainwright


Percy Wainwright was born on 22 October 1882 at Wakefield, Yorkshire, one of at least ten children of millwright Charles Henry Wainwright and his wife Emma (née Hodgson). His mother died when he was just four years old, and his father when he was nine.

In the late 1890s Wainwright enlisted in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) (No.8174). At the time of the 1901 Census he was serving with the regiment at Aldershot. Ten years later, having completed his service and transferring to the army reserve, he was living at 15 Albert Square, Waterloo Road, Brighouse, Yorkshire, as a boarder at the home of Mary Ann Dent, and working as a dying works mechanic. Six months later, on 2 September, he married Mrs Dent's daughter Gertrude Maud in nearby Halifax.

Wainwright was mobilised from the reserves on the outbreak of war, embarking to join his regiment in France on 8 November 1914. He later returned to England, where at some point he was posted to the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.

Wainwright probably re-embarked for France at the end of June 1916, having been posted to the headquarters establishment of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment following the formation of that regiment in France from C and F Squadrons and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron. The headquarters, formed in England and comprising 40 officers and men, joined the new regiment in France at the beginning of July.

The 2nd NIH Regiment served as corps cavalry to X Corps until August-September 1917, when it was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Like the majority, Wainwright was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – but some weeks later than most, on 26 November 1917. He was issued regimental number 41643 and posted to A Company.

Wainwright was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Germany including at Güstrow.

Following his repatriation, on 14 February 1919 Wainwright was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. The 1939 Register shows him living at 15 Albert Square, Brighouse, with his wife Gertrude, and working as a labourer.