As a man considered a Reserve at the declaration of war, Percy was mobilized in Leicester on 5th August 1914. According to his service record, on 9th Sept 1914, he embarked as part of 6th Division of the British Expeditionary Force to France.
His spell in France was brief and he returned to England on 28th October 1914. He then embarked once more to France on 18th March 1915 where he suffered a minor wound on 28th August 1915. Just over a year later, on 21st September 1915, he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
Sadly, just four days later on the 25th September, his record reads: “Death presumed, place not stated, previously reported missing”
Percy Abels has no known resting place and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
British War medal
The Western Front Association have published a review list of several soldiers who lost their lives, which features Percy Abels, allowing us to read the exact circumstances of his death through the War Diary entry for that date:
At 5.30am the Battn. was in positions of readiness in accordance with orders in four lines opposite their objective with bombing parties, sandbag parties and carrying parties all arranged and in position. At 6.00am the first line got over the parapet quickly followed by the second, the left had to right form to get in line with the right as the trench ran back from a salient near the centre.
As the first two lines went out the third and fourth filed into the vacant positions in the firing line. The gas affected a number of our men, and the smoke caused a dense fog and direction was difficult. Casualties began at once and the third line was ordered out to fill up gaps. Owing to the thick smoke it seemed likely that gaps would occur on the flanks and at 6.07am the fourth line was sent out with special instructions to maintain touch with the units on either flank.