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Beresford, Percy William

A colleague writes of Lieutenant-Colonel Percy W. Beresford, D.S.O. of the London Regiment, who died of wounds on October 26- "It is not, perhaps, without parallel, in this war for a country curate to become the commanding officer of his battalion and a D.S.O., but Beresford joined in simple piety, patience, industry and humility rare military qualities of decision, moral predominance, and thorough knowledge of his work which make the born soldier. It was Beresford who pioneered one of the first parish cadet corps in England. Many of us rather wondered and may have been a little amused at the zeal our curate put into his work, but by and by these cadets became marked in Westerham for smartness, respectfulness, and moral tone, and the movement, so long derided and opposed, was more than justified. As priest one of his sayings occurs to me, as I write these lines close to where he fell. It was - "People so often attend church for what they can get out of it - a good sermon, you know, or good music. If only they came to give instead of to get! You, for instance, who complain that the service is "dull," why don't you take something with you to make it brighter - cheerfulness, thankfulness, humility - any kind of virtue would help. It would make all the difference if you went to give instead of to get. On active service, as captain, and later as commanding officer Beresford was a true leader, beloved by his men and absolutely fearless. One day while reposing for a moment after a hasty meal under fire and reading his Prayer-book, a piece of shrapnel hit his water-bottle. As a fellow officer with him at the time said 'Nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand would have moved away. But he went on with his reading.' When colonel Beresford was mortally wounded he said to the doctor, 'Don't bother about me. Attend to the others.' A smile lit up his pale handsome face, still very boyish, as he turned to his adjutant- 'I'm finished - carry on- take care of my sister.' Then he added- "This is a fine death for a Beresford." The Times 21 November 1917


First name(s)Percy William
Family detailsSon of Frank Gilbert & Jessie Ogilvie Beresford. Next of kin: Miss M Beresford, The Laurels, Westerham - Sister.
CollegeKing's College London and/or King's College London Hospital
Dates at college1905
Dept / courseFaculty of Theology
Military unitLondon Regiment Royal Fusiliers 2nd/3rd Bn.
Date enlisted6 January 1915
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
Decorations / medalsD.S.O. Twice mentioned in despatches
Citation(s)London Gazette - 18 July 1917 - DSO for conspicuous gallantry and ability in command of his battalion during heavy enemy counter-attacks. The skill with which he handled his reserves was of the utmost assistance to the division on his right, and his determination enabled us to hold on to an almost impossible position. He repulsed 3 counter-attacks, and lost heavily in doing so. The Times 19 July 1917
Date of death26 October 1917
Age at death42
Rank at deathLieutenant Colonel
Cause of deathDied of wounds
Burial placeGwalia Cemetery, Belgium
Commemoration(s)King's College Chapel
NotesA Memorial Service was held in Westerham Parish Church on Nov 7, 1917
SourcesKing's College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, July 20, 1917; London Gazette; The Times

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Beresford, Percy William
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