Percy Coleman was killed in action on 31st July 1917. Percy was listed in the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine Roll of Honour for the first time in May 1917, serving with the Northamptonshire Regiment. Only a few months later, in the September edition of the Magazine, he was listed killed in action whilst serving with the Royal Fusiliers.
“Another Railway Terrace Man, Percy Coleman, of the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action at about the same date as William Jerram. He also leaves behind a young wife and little child. May God grant to their afflicted and bereaved ones His consolation, and may those who have so nobly given their lives on their behalf rest in Peace.”
Percy was killed on the same day as another Abbots Langley man, William Jerram, also from Railway Terrace. He was born in the summer of 1886 at Bedmond, but sometime afterwards the family moved to Nash Mills and in the 1901 Census Percy was living at the family home with his father and mother, William and Sarah Coleman, and three brothers and three sisters. William worked as a Mill-wright and Percy was employed as a Mill-wright’s apprentice.
It is unknown when and where Percy enlisted. He had married before joining the Army and the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine indicated that he was a resident of Railway Terrace but at the time of his death the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that his wife and young child were living at 37 Down Road, Teddington, Middlesex. However his parents still lived at 12 Nash Mills.
The 12th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers moved to the Front Line trenches east of Zillebeke on 30th July 1917. At 3.00am on 31st July the battalion was formed up and prepared to go into action from trenches just north of Hill 60 with objectives in the area known as Shrewsbury Forest. Attacking just before 4.00am the Fusiliers were held up by enemy strong-points near Bodmin Copse. After withdrawing the battalion was subjected to a heavy artillery bombardment throughout the day, and was raked by rifle and machine gun fire as it was relieved at 11.00pm. The official record noted that the 12th Royal Fusiliers suffered 30 Other Ranks killed in action and 130 wounded. Subsequent research has shown that the actual number of men killed in action was 94. The actual number of wounded is unknown. Percy Coleman was killed in action during this engagement.
Percy Coleman was listed on the Menin Gate at Ypres, and was commemorated on the Abbots Langley War Memorial and John Dickinson War Memorial, indicating that before joining up he had worked at the Dickinson Paper Mills. His brother, Fred Coleman, despite being severely wounded serving with the Royal Navy at Gallipoli, survived the War. His brother-in-law, Nicholas Hayden, who had married his sister Alice in 1915, survived the War.