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First Name: Samuel Last Name: PERRY
Date of Death: 05/08/1917 Lived/Born In: Old Kent Road
Rank: Driver Unit: Royal Field Artillery 39th Division Ammunition Column
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


13, Prioress Street, Old Kent Road

Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium


During the First World War some 800,000 British and Allied men served in the artillery, of whom nearly 50,000 were killed. They were a vital component of the army, used for a number of purposes but essentially to destroy the enemy’s defences before the infantry attacked. A brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, was the equivalent of an infantry battalion with a complement of over 800 officers and men whereas the artillery battery numbered about 200 personnel. Within the ranks there were gunners and bombardiers, drivers, signallers and telephonists. At the beginning of the war when things were much more fluid, artillery batteries could find themselves in the front line of the action but as the war progressed and trench warfare became the norm, the batteries were placed behind the line. However this did not mean safety. The enemy would use spotter planes and other methods to determine the positions of the guns and these would then be targeted by their own artillery. When this happened there was little escape for the gunners. They had to keep firing their own guns regardless of what might be happening around them and there were many a direct hit on their emplacements, killing and injuring whole gun crews. Others would act as spotters which meant going forward to the front line and signalling back to the guns necessary changes in target and other vital information. Keeping the batteries supplied with ammunition was a dangerous task for the Divisional Ammunition Columns as the enemy guns would target the known supply routes, especially at night. Once in position, artillery brigades tended not to move much so while the infantry could be relieved at regular intervals and move back to safer positions, the men of the artillery stayed where they were for much longer periods of time. 

Third Battle of Ypres

This was a campaign fought between July and November 1917 and is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele, a village to the north-east of Ypres which was finally captured in November. It was an attempt by the British to break out of the Ypres salient and capture the higher ground to the south and the east, from which the enemy had been able to dominate the salient. It began well but two important factors weighed against them. First was the weather. The summer of 1917 turned out to be one of the wettest on record and soon the battlefield was reduced to a morass of mud which made progress very difficult, if not impossible in places. The second was the defensive arrangements of concrete blockhouses and machine gun posts providing inter-locking fire that the Germans had constructed and which were extremely difficult and costly to counter. For four months this epic struggle continued by the end of which the salient had been greatly expanded in size but the vital break out had not been achieved. 

Samuel Perry was killed on 20th September while serving with the 39th Division Ammunition Column during the Third Battle of Ypres.

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