People on board
Percy Beardon was born in Hollocombe, Devon on the 2nd of January 1887 to John Beardon and Elizabeth Bradford, the second of their four children. John Beardon was a Boot and Shoe Maker while Elizabeth ran the Hollocombe sub-post office which was combined with the village shop. In 1901, at the age of fourteen, Percy was a Farm Servant in neighbouring Winkleigh while in 1911 he was a ‘Horseman on Farm’ on a farm in Narracott. In 1912 he and a fellow worker on the farm, William Berry, “pleaded guilty to using obscene language to the annoyance of passers-by” and fined 5s and costs.
On the 21st of March 1916 it was reported in the Western Times that a Hollocombe farmer, William Partridge, had applied for an exemption from conscription for Percy Beardon, “a horseman and ploughman”. The Tribunal decided that the country needed him more but gave him two months grace “to get the tilling done”. However he enlisted in Exeter on the 13th of April in the Royal Field Artillery and after training was posted as a Driver to the 27th Reserve Battery, then serving in France.
Percy Beardon’s full military records are not available but he was wounded in July 1918 and was sent back to England. A letter he wrote to his mother on the 3rd of October (almost certainly 1918) is held by his descendants. Headed “27th Reserve Battery, No 5 Hut, Athlone, Ireland” he spoke of the rough journey he had experienced travelling to Ireland to the 27th’s Depot, “but it isn’t a bad place here for grub and haven’t much work to do”. He mentions rumours of moving to England to “go on Anti-Aircraft” and this may possibly be the reason that he was travelling again on the 10th of October on RMS Leinster.
He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered. On the 8th of November a Memorial Service was held at the Congregational Church in Hollocombe for Percy Beardon and his farm worker friend, William Berry, who had died in France on the 4th of October. Both their names are inscribed on the Winkleigh Memorial Cross, and Beardon’s name is also on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton. His family inserted memorial notices in the Western Times in 1919 and 1920.