Percy Wheldon was born on January 4, 1895 in Little Eaton, Derbyshire. In 1911 he was living with his parents and older brother and sister at 34 Mansfield Street, Derby. He was 16 years old and working as an Iron Moulder.
He attested on May 12, 1915 and, after going through basic training, joined the 1/5th Sherwood Foresters with service number 4322.
He landed in France on March 23, 1916 and spent a month at Rouen before joining the Battalion on April 10th. He was wounded in action on July 1st with a shrapnel wound to the right shoulder. He was admitted to Hospital in Dieppe and discharged to Base Depot at Etaples a week later. Six weeks later he was re-admitted and eventually transferred back to England on September 19, 1916.
He was transferred to the 2/8th Sherwoods on January 24, 1917 and joined them in the field in France in February. He spent 3 weeks in a Field Ambulance in July and August 1917 with septic abrasions on his feet. And a week in a different Field Ambulance with scabies in September. Evidently still unwell after 3 months of hospital treatment a week after he rejoined his unit he was charged with neglect of duty (presumably sleeping) while on duty in the Battalion Signals Office and given 21 days of Field Punishment No. 1.
Field Punishment Number 1 consisted of the convicted man being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, often a gun wheel or similar. He could only be thus fixed for up to 2 hours in 24, and not for more than 3 days in 4, or for more than 21 days in his sentence. This punishment was often known as ‘crucifixion’ and due to its humiliating nature was viewed by many as unfair.
He spent another two weeks being treated for bronchitis in November.
The 2/8th Sherwoods were disbanded in France in February and Pte. Wheldon ended his unhappy association with them by transferring to the 1st Sherwoods on January 29, 1918. But his medical troubles were not over and he spent another 12 days in 24 Field Ambulance being treated for scabies.
The 1/Sherwoods were part of the 24th Infantry Brigade of the 8th Division. Pte. Wheldon was one of 260 Other Ranks added to the Battalion in January and February as they reorganized and trained their new additions. The German Spring Offensive interrupted these activities and the 1/Sherwoods fought in the First Battle of the Somme, 1918 in March where Pte. Wheldon was briefly reported missing on March 26th. Evidently he really was just temporarily unaccounted for because he was back with his unit on May 27, 1918 when he was taken prisoner in the Boise de la Miette along with Pte. Arthur Slater and and Pte. Christopher George Zabel in the 3rd Battle of the Aisne.
He was repatriated to the UK on January 16, 1919 and was demobed from the Army on March 13, 1919. Shortly after he returned to the UK he sent Arthur Slater the photograph shown at the top of this post and on the back wrote, “From an old Gefangenen” (German for Prisoner).