Percy Bertram Welton was born on 16th October 1878 in Newcastle upon Tyne.
A Keen Freemason
Percy lived his later life at 11, Neville Crescent, Acton Park, Wrexham. He was a keen Freemason in his spare time and a member of numerous lodges while serving with The Royal Welch Fusiliers in India. In Wrexham, he was a member of Bromfield Lodge, which still exists today.
He had a long, varied and distinguished career with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Joining the ranks in 1896, he served continuously until 1919, retiring with the rank of Major. He served 18 years in the ranks with the 2nd Batallion. Percy saw action in China at the relief of Peking, then Burma and India.
He had a fascination with sport, and he was a part of his battalion winning three Regimental Boxing Championships of India. Returning to the UK in 1914, he embarked with the battalion for France in August 1914. He became a second lieutenant in October 1914 for services in the field to the Second Batallion. Welton continued in action and was in the Fromelles area when he was wounded by a sniper in November 1914.
In Hot Water With His CO
According to the book The War the Infantry Knew by Captain JC Dunn, Percy got into hot water with his commanding officer during the retreat of Mons. Welton, then a regimental quartermaster sergeant, dumped all the officers’ kits from his wagon and picked up refugees instead.
He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant in February 1915, Lieutenant (May 1915) and Temporary Captain (July 1915), serving until he was wounded at the battle of Loos in September 1915. In December 1915, he became adjutant to the 17th Batallion and returned to France. He saw action at Mametz Wood when he was wounded again in July 1916. Welton received the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in October 1917.
The Military Cross
Percy won the Military Cross and became Acting Major in January 1918 before rising to Temporary Major and taking command of the battalion in September 1918. He retired on 28th May 1921, but his connection with the regiment did not cease there. He assumed the duties of Recruiting Officer for the Regimental Area. In that capacity, he served until a fortnight before his death in March 1923.
Percy’s funeral took place at Wrexham Cemetery. A band and firing party from the Depot were present, under the command of Lieutenant EC Tunnicliffe and escort under the control of Lieutenant, The Honourable FJ Southwell.
Officers present from the Depot were Major HVV Kyrke, DSO, Captain JG Bruxner Randall, Captain E Wodehouse, and Lieutenant C de Hardie. Other mourners were Major W Jones, Captains Keating and Carless, and Lieutenant O’Leary.
Despatches read, “His loss is deeply lamented by all who knew him. Our deepest sympathy is offered to his widow Mrs Welton, his father, brothers and sisters and to all other relatives.”
Lest We Forget
The Victoria Cross Trust is a charitable organisation that works tirelessly to ensure the memory and maintenance of the graves of every Victoria Cross recipient for generations to come.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) only takes responsibility for graves of Victoria Cross recipients killed in action during World War I and Il. Many more VCs were laid to rest without civic recognition and without continued maintenance to their graves. The Victoria Cross Trust works with families and relatives of those brave men.
The CWGC provide the same level of care and maintenance to their graves. They take steps to restore, maintain or protect these important using an “aftercare plan” that involves volunteers tending the graves to keep them clean and tidy.
Special thanks to Claire Lewis who researched and wrote this story about Major Percy Welton. She told us “I had the honour of instigating the restoration of his grave by the marvellous Victoria Cross Trust who did an amazing job of the restoration and with the fantastic help of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum and from Aubrey Black Military Masonic Researcher“.
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