Percy David BODDY (4983)
24 Battalion KIA 13/3/17
Percy Boddy was born in Balloong in 1890. He grew up in the Shire of Alberton, attending the state primary schools at Balloong and Woodside. His name is recorded on the honor rolls of both schools. His name is also recorded on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor and the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial. His father gave Yarram as the location with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’.
When he enlisted in early 1916, Private Boddy gave his father – David Boddy – as next of kin. The father was farming (55 acres) at Balloong. According to the 1915 rate book, Percy Boddy also had a small holding – 5 acres – at Balloong. The son also gave his occupation as farmer and, presumably, he was working with his father.
On his enlistment papers Percy Boddy was 25 yo and single. However, there are papers in his service file which indicate that there was an ‘ex-nuptial’ child, a son. The file shows that after the War this child and the child’s mother both received pensions against Private Boddy’s death on active service. The boy was living with his mother from the early 1920s but there was a period prior to this when he had been in the care of the Neglected Children’s Department in Melbourne. There is no indication in the file that Private Boddy’s parents knew of the child and it is possible that Private Boddy himself never saw his son. In June 1922, it appears the mother thought the medals should go the father (David Boddy) who, in fact, died in 1923.
Private Boddy enlisted in Melbourne on 10/2/16. He joined as reinforcements for the 24 Battalion and left Australia in late July (28/7/16). After further training in England, he reached France in the middle of November (17/11/16) and was finally taken on strength on 10/2/17. He was killed in action on 13/3/17, just over one month later. The father would have been advised by cable in early April (5/4/17) of his son’s death and the formal report of death was completed on 18/4/17. The death was reported in the local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – in April (18/4/17):
Private Percy David Boddy, son of Mr. David Boddy, of Balloong, killed in action in France on 13th March, was well-known in this district as owner of The Barb trotting stallion, and took a great interest in trotting stock. One of his many friends the other day remarked that at Easter 1916, they were only talking together over the war, and Perce was wished good luck across the sea. It proved to be his last Easter. [Presumably, Percy Boddy had gone home on leave for Easter 1916].
The war diary for 24 Battalion indicates that Private Boddy was one of 5 killed and 18 wounded on the day. On the day, the battalion was operating in the area round Grevillers/ Le Barque (near Bapaume), employing patrols to probe the German line as the Germans themselves were systematically falling back to the newly created Hindenburg Line.
The picture below shows the original grave of Private Boddy. Its location was described as ‘between Le Sars and Le Barque 2 3/4 miles s.w. of Bapaume’. In time, the remains were exhumed and re-buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery. The picture also suggests the difficulties associated with retaining the precise identity of those buried in such temporary graves, and it does appear that there was some confusion during the exhumation process. However, in July 1926, the Imperial War Graves Commission determined that Private Boddy 4983 was buried in ‘Plot VIII, Row “D”, Grave 49. Warlencourt British Cemetery’.
In September 1918, one and a half years after his son’s death, the father wrote to Base Records in Melbourne enquiring why he not received any of his son’s kit. The reply from Base Records pointed out that a package containing the personal effects had in fact been sent via ‘registered packet’ in February that year. The father was advised to contact the local Post Office (Woodside). The file does not reveal what subsequently happened; but it does reveal that the inventory of the personal effects, as despatched from the AIF Kit Store in London, showed that the only items returned to Australia were a ‘Testament’ and ‘3 photo proofs’.
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative
O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 1, The Alberton Project
National Archives file for BODDY Percy David 4983
Roll of Honour: Percy David Boddy
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Percy David Boddy