Communities to remember soldier who took his own life

Family grave of gunner Percy Whitaker.
Family grave of gunner Percy Whitaker.

A remembrance service will be held for a solider who took his own life 100 years ago – just before he would have been sent to the frontline.

Two communities will join together on the morning of Friday July 17, at Morley Cemetery to remember the short life of Gunner Percy Whitaker, of Howden Clough, who died on that date during World War One.

The Morley branch of the Royal British Legion have invited members of the Howden Clough Community, together with local WWI commemoration scheme Project Bugle, to join them at a short service at Gunner Whitaker’s grave side.

Project Bugle leader Tony Dunlop said: “Percy was born in Morley in 1890 to Arthur Walter Whitaker and Mary Louisa.

“The family lived at 56 Wesley Street in Morley. Arthur was a Mining Engineer and Land Mineral Surveyor. There were eleven children born to the family but just seven survived early childhood.

“By 1901 the family had moved to Howden Clough and lived at the top of Nab Lane.

“Percy was to follow his father into the business and he qualified as a mining engineer. In May 1915 he joined the Royal Field Artillery and was serving on clerical duties in the regimental quarters in Headingley.

“He had been placed on orders to join the ranks and go to the front line and he was given a weekend pass. He was due to return to barracks on Sunday July 17 but delayed his trip until the Monday morning – but that evening he took his own life.

“He was described at the inquest as a bright, but overly serious young man who carried many worries and was prone to periods of depression – the jury recorded that he shot himself during temporary insanity as a result of depression.”