Percy Lewis

Percy Lewis was a great pal of my Dads during the war and afterwards he was one of the first people I contacted. We too were to become good pals over the following couple of years.

Unlike many old soldiers Percy was justly proud of his War service and happy to talk about them freely, both the good times and the grim.

He told of :-

  • the incident in Normandy, when a captured German sniper was shot on the spot by a soldier whose brother was killed the day before - by a sniper.
  • their first days in battle, the fear, and will to survive.
  • the desperate fighting around the Escaut canal and the Gheel bridgehead, and the terrible losses suffered by the Infantry.
He had great compassion for the men who went "bomb happy" under the constant bombardment. Many of these men soon recovered after a couple of days out of the line. Some suffered for years after the war was over.

Percy was a professional boxer both before and after the war and during the war he represented the Regiment, the division and the Army boxing at middleweight, was even a contender for the British title.

Training for any sport in the army bought many perks he once told me. One of the lighter moments occurred when he was serving on the Licolnshire Coast.

On guard duty one night, Percy spotted a couple of hundred geese land in an inland lake. The thought of a bit of roast goose was too tempting so Percy doubled off to the Officer in Command, Capt john Shields.

Permission granted, they both returned to the pond with the rest of the guard. The plan was to surround the pond and on Capt shields signal fire off one round each, below shoulder height only. The men steadied themselves, down went the signal, 12 Lee Enfields went off as one like a cannon. There was an almighty crash as two hundred geese took to the air.

The men peered into the darkness, how many had they bagged? Not one!!

After Capt shields had finished laughing, he screamed at them "I hope you have better luck when we meet Jerry".

Percy was another who crossed swords with Budd, mentioned on Bill Smith's page. ()

It was Christmas 1943 and the boys were having a bit of a do. Percy was passing my Dad a cigar for after dinner.

Budd was in like a shot and nicked it from Percy's hand! Of course Percy was furious and offered him out in the ring.

But Budd knowing Percy was a class act with his fists chose to hide behind his rank.

Dick Moorshead, also mentioned on Bill Smith's page (), was probably the most unpopular Officer in the Regiment.

Disliked by both Officers and men, he always talked about thrashing the hun, but when he got to France he was found to be sadly lacking. His subordinate officers were ordered to take his duty at the FOP, and Charlie Ashton risked his life more than once while fetching his bottle of whisky. In November 1944 he was given a staff job back in the UK.

Amazingly Percy bumped into Moorshead after the War. Percy was due to be posted to the "Pickfords scheme" (relieving troops returning from the war in the East) He was at RA HQ in Woolwich when he came across Moorshead, cursing his luck, it was not a very amicable meeting. Percy was not to chuffed at the thought of being shipped off to India after fighting his way across Europe. He managed to persuade Capt Meredith, who was still in Germany as part of the BAOR (British Army on the Rhine) to send for him as a driver. It worked!!

Percy was able to finish his service with the Regiment in Germany, until he was demobbed in 1946.

After chatting to his son Tony, I discovered that Percy boxed about ten or twelve bouts per year, and the most he remembers him earning was 10! though this was weeks wages in those days. The belt he is wearing is "The Midlands Area Welterweight Champion" and it is still in the family.

If any boxing Buffs out there can tell us about Percys boxing career, then we'd like to know more...