CWG: Able Seaman Percy Strong

Able Seaman Percy Strong

Percy William Strong was born in April 1897, the youngest of five children to Albert Strong and his wife Elizabeth. The family lived in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, where Albert worked as a mason’s labourer.

Percy was keen to make his own way in the world. By the 1911 census, and having left school, he was working as a farm boy on Kingsdown Farm in Shepton, alongside a couple of other paid, and boarding, employees.

He seemed to have been after adventure in his life too; in January 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, getting his training on a number of vessels, even before the start of the Great War. In his six years of service, he was promoted from Boy to Able Seaman, and served on nine ships.

Able Seaman Strong’s final assignment was at HMS Idaho, the naval base in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, which he joined in May 1918. It was while he was stationed at HMS Idaho that tragedy would strike.

A boat belonging to a Government Patrol-boat capsized in Milford Haven, when three members of the crew lost their lives. They were Sub-Lieutenant Lever (20), Birkenhead; Leading Seaman Thomas Palmer (30) Shepton Mallet; and AB Percy Strong (21), Shepton Mallet.

The boat, containing six men, had come ashore in a rough sea. It left Milford Haven Naval stage on return to the ship at eleven am. A sharp squall caught the men when well out on their return journey, and this the craft failed to weather, and was capsized. The six occupants were cast into the sea, and despite the efforts of men in boats from other vessels, the three named were drowned, and the others had a narrow escape.

Western Mail: Friday 11th October 1918

Able Seaman Strong has lost his life on 9th October 1918. He was just 21 years old.

Percy William Strong’s body was returned to Shepton Mallet, the town of his birth, and lies at rest in the cemetery there.

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