The information displayed here is at the time of death.
Percy was born in Newport, Wales in 1896. He was the son of William Archibald, a Tobacconist, and Leah Mary Murray (nee Bardwell). An postcard image of the family shop 'Find It Out' in West Hartlepool can be seen in our images below.
He was studying Mechanical Engineering at Armstrong College when war broke out. Percy attended the University Officers' Training Corps whilst at Armstrong College. He immediately volunteered for service at the start of the war and was gazetted to the Durham Light Infantry, 6th Battalion. He arrived in France on 17th April 1915 and was made temporary Lieutenant on 5th November that year. He fought at the Second Battle of Ypres.
Percy transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and on completion of his training was appointed Lieutenant on 20th October 1916. On 1st February 1917 at 2.30 pm Percy took off from Bruay for an aerial photographic operation over Thelus in Northern France with Lieutenant Duncan John McRae. Forty minutes later, they were attacked by German pilot Manfred von Richthofen, "The Red Baron". They were forced to descend in large, uncontrolled right hand turns until their aircraft crashed into the German front line wire. They were alive when pulled from the aircraft, but both died from wounds shortly afterwards.
Percy died on 2nd February 1917 aged 20.
The birth certificate of Percy’s younger brother Cecil, shows the family address in 1910 as Sea View Terrace, Seaton Carew, West Hartlepool.
The family also had a shop, 'Find It Out' on Lynn Street in Hartlepool.
Percy is buried in the Bois-Carre British Cemetery, Thelus, France.
UK Census registers, National Archives (available via Ancestry.co.uk)
UK Military Service Records, National Archives (available via Ancestry.co.uk)
Newcastle University Archives (Roll of Service, Armstrong College Calendars, The Northerner Student Magazine)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
In the Footsteps of the Red Baron, Michael O' Connor (2005).
Thank you also to Percival's family who have kindly shared family photographs and other items with us.
Sophie Anderton, Holly Johnson, Ian Johnson, Amy Shiel.
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