XL Imperial Field Ambulance
Nov. 5th 1918.
Dear Mr. Griffiths,
Tis with a heavy heart that I inform you of the tragic death of Percy R. Shannon at midnight of Nov. 2nd. He was doing temporary duty with a neighboring Field Ambulance about 3 miles from us and after being relieved at his Forward Post was guiding some of the walking wounded cases (which he had dressed) back through the stygian darkness, along a road to the Dressing Station some 2 miles back. The road was congested with a double stream of traffic composed of men, horses and artillery, all of which had to feel their way without the aid of a solitary light. With the shelling becoming heavier a number of casualties occurred among men and horses causing a temporary blockage, and into this Perc rushed to give aid to the wounded. T'was while bending over one of these unfortunate chaps that a piece of shell struck him on the back of the head, fracturing the base of his skull and causing immediate unconsciousness.
He was rushed to the Dressing station by some of his stretcher bearers where 2 Doctors worked on him incessantly, but he never rallied and in about an hour he quietly passed away. The next day we took him back to one of the quaint little French villages, and yesterday buried him with full military honors in the adjoining civilian cemetery, both of which marvelously escaped the ravages of warfare. The cemetery is situated on the sunny western slope of a rolling hill, and is guarded on 3 sides by a well kept hedge and in front by a huge brick wall in the centre of which is the arched entrance.
Playing together as kiddies, then studying together for 5 years followed by 2 years of Army life had made us almost inseparable till I now feel like a lost man wandering thru these gray days - But the most solace I gather is from the fact that he gave his life to help others, and thereby saved it.
Should you like further information consider me at your service.
Yesterday afternoon Nov 5th was buried dear Perc in a quiet secluded French civilian cemetery one half of which is being used for military funerals. The funeral took place from no. 10 Field Ambulance which was doing duty in this village. First there was the line by with the body covered by a huge British flag, then came the escort from each Field Ambulance, headed by the respective Ambulance Commanders, and finally an escort of officers made up of Colonels, Majors, Captains and us Lieutenants, which escort included the A.D.M.S who is the head of our Medical service for the Division. Within 200 yards of the grave yard we halted and from here the body was carried. As we entered the cemetery the Methodist Padre started the Service, then a Church of England Padre continued the service and the Methodist Padre finished. Then the Bugler blew the "retreat" while we all stood at attention, and saluted, then quietly and with the inexpressible feeling of depression we silently filed away and returned to the village, thence by Ambulance to our own village. A few days later the Commanding Officer and other friends of Perc made a cross and placed it on the grave.