Courtesy of Peter Brown
Driver Percy Geach Brown
Pakenham & District War Memorial
Born: 31 October 1895, Beaconsfield Upper, Victoria
Enlisted: 15 March 1915 aged 20
Unit: 5th Battalion 6th Reinforcement (SERN: 2111)
Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Western Front
Died: 10 September 1983, Mornington, Victoria
Percy was the son of Enos (“Bert”) Brown and his wife Lavinia “Minnie” Stephens. He was born in Beaconsfield Upper, where his father later owned “Ben Eay” (later “Kyogle”), a small property / guest house on the corner of the Emerald and Lewis Roads (1). After leaving school, Percy worked in the local fruit industry for Patrick O’Halloran (2). When he enlisted for service on 15 March 1915, Percy was 20 years old and working as a driver (3). In those days, that meant driving a horse and wagon. Once he was enlisted, Percy was assigned to the 5th Battalion 6th Reinforcement as a private. He left Australia on 25 July 1915 bound for Egypt. Percy was taken on strength with the 5th Battalion at Gallipoli on 5 August 1915, but within days was wounded in the arm and shoulder and had to be evacuated to hospital in Egypt (4). Having been notified of the injury to his son, Enos Brown wrote to the Defence Department expressing his hope that Percy’s injuries were not too serious and that he would “soon be back doing his duty for King and Country” (5). In September 1915, Percy rejoined his unit at Mudros but caught the flu and was hospitalised again. He eventually made it back to Gallipoli, but contracted flu again at Anzac Cove. He was sent back to Egypt, but developed pneumonia. In the era before antibiotics, pneumonia was often fatal, but Percy pulled through what was known as the “crisis” and recovered. In March 1916 Percy was taken on strength with the 13th Company, Australian Army Service Corps’ (AASC) 1st Field Bakery in Egypt, before being shipped to the Western Front. There Percy was appointed as a Lance Corporal at Rouen France in April 1917, but reverted to the ranks at his own request in June 1916. He subsequently served with the 5th Field Bakery in France and was later attached to the No 11 Details Issues Stores. Percy was discharged from the Army in Melbourne on 7 August 1919 (6). He was welcomed home at Pakenham in October 1919, when he was presented with a gold medallion by the residents of Pakenham (7), while in 1921 his name was included on the Pakenham & District War Memorial. Percy was similarly honoured with a medallion by the residents of Beaconsfield. Percy’s name and photograph also appear on the Beaconsfield Roll of Honour (8).
Now a qualified baker, Percy worked for Jackson’s Bakery after returning to Pakenham. He loved sport and was active in local football and cricket (9). In 1925, he married Avis Smith, the daughter of Oscar Smith, the local blacksmith and undertaker. The couple eventually had three sons. With assistance from the Ex-Soldiers’ Repatriation Scheme, Percy and Avis built a house in Rogers Street on a quarter acre block big enough for some fruit trees and a large poultry shed (10). Unfortunately, Percy lost his job during the Great Depression, and the family moved to Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula, where he was able to secure a job with the local bakery. Riding his bike to and from work every day kept him fit well into old age (11). In 1967, Percy claimed the Gallipoli Medallion which was awarded to surviving Gallipoli veterans to mark the 50th anniversary of the campaign (12). Percy died in 1983.
The assistance of Percy’s grandson, Peter Brown is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Wilson (2013), p. 99
(2) & (6) Smith (2012) p.103 - 107
(3) (4) (5) (6) & (12) NAA B2455 BROWN P
(7) Pakenham Gazette 17/10/1919 p. 2
(8) (9) (10) & (11) Information provided by Peter Brown