Percy Charles Treloar
Service Number: 2751
Regiment: 48th Battalion 6th Reinforcement
Percy was born at Hoyleton (SA) in 1875 and grew up at Burra (SA). He attended the Stanley Grammar School at Watervale in SA. The second oldest of 8 children, he became a store keeper and a station hand in SA and North Western WA. He went to Western Australia to the goldfields with his brothers, Len and Clem.
My Great Aunt, Ida could just remember with excitement, a party with singing and music at his brother, Clem’s farm, “Kelvin Grove” when Percy was enlisting. He was 39 when he enlisted at Merridin WA in May 1916. Like so many he was looking forward to a great adventure like his brother, Clem, had experienced 14 years earlier in the Boer War.
His unit embarked from Freemantle, WA, on board HMAT Port Melbourne on 30 October 1916. He arrived in France in the middle of the worst winter for forty years. The first major action Percy saw took place on the 11th of April at Bullecourt, a German strong hold in the Hindenberg Line. The attack was hastily planned and resulted in disaster. Tanks that were supposed to support the attacking Australian infantry either broke down or were quickly destroyed. Despite this the infantry managed to get through the barbed wire and break into the German defences. Due to uncertainty as to how far they had advanced, supporting artillery fire was withheld just when it was needed most.
Through miscommunication when artillery commenced, shells fell on the Australians. Lance Corporal, George Mitchell, as Lewis gunner with the 48th recalled in his diary, “I walked to the barbed wire hearing the bullets as they hailed all around. I saw the dead, wounded and dying as they huddled everywhere. I was in the midst of our own fierce barrage and also a German barrage. Machine guns were playing the devil with us”
Another witness said that “ ….number 2751 Private Treloar was wounded, and when last seen was in the best of spirits. His wound was not serious, but sufficient to prevent him from walking …. I saw him near the first line of German trenches after he had been hit. He was placed into a dug out where a number of wounded were. This was between and first and second German lines. I have no doubt he was left in this dug out when we were forced to retire….. a returned prisoner at the enquiry, Private Hanley, said he saw all these men killed.
The 4th Brigade had sent 3000 officers and men into battle; their casualties amounted to 2339. The battalions were, in effect, wiped out.
Percy was initially listed as "Missing in Action" but following a Court of Enquiry on the 29th December 1917, he was listed as "Killed in Action" but the whereabouts of his remains were unknown. He was subsequently found and buried in early 1922 in the Bailleul Road East Cemetery at St. Laurent-Trangy, France, Grave Reference III.C.16