Percival Dennis Sprackling (1883-1917) - Pte 30553 13th East Surrey RegimentPercy Sprackling, according to his CWGC records, signed up for the Royal Fusiliers as Pte 26920, in Horsham, around January 1916 whilst working in the engineering department at Christ’s Hospital school. It is likely that this was primarily his training regiment as the 27thBattalion of the Royal Fusiliers was formed in Horsham in August 1915 as a Reserve Battalion. In September 1916 the 27thBn RF was converted into 103rdTraining Reserve Battalion, 24thReserve Brigade so his actual service regiment/battalion was almost certainly the 13th East Surrey Regiment as his medal roll details only relate to his East Surrey number of Pte 30553.The 13thEast Surreys landed at Le Havre in France on 4th June 1916 and went into the trenches opposite Lens, north of Albert. Later the Battalion moved to the Somme Valley and was in the front line near Bouchavesnes, when the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line commenced. A move north took the Battalion to Villers Plouich and it was here, on the 24thMarch 1917, that Corporal Edward (“Tiny”) Foster of the 13th won a VC. It was also here, in the trenches four months later, that Percy Sprackling died.The War Diary records little action around the time of Percy’s death on the 18thJuly but for the 16thit states “sniper activity (rifle grenades) 1 OR killed/2 OR wounded”.It is likely that this was the cause of his death. Ironically he must have survived the battle for Villers Plouich in which over 200 of his regiment were killed or wounded, only to be killed by a random sniper when everything seemed to have settled down.He was granted the Victory and British War Medals for his service, is buried at Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel-Le-Grand, and is remembered on Itchingfield War Memorial.
Photograph courtesy of Ruby Gibbes (nee Sprackling)