b. 06/06/1898 Leigh, Surrey. d. 22/04/1979 Reigate, Surrey.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 16/05/1941 Parkgate, Surrey.
Percy Barnard Weller (1898-1979) was born on 6th June 1898 in Leigh, near Reigate, Surrey, one of four children of Barnard Henry and Clara Kate Weller (nee Smith). He had a brother George and two sisters Edith and Florence. Little is known of Percy’s childhood or schooling, but in 1916 he enlisted with the East Surrey Regiment, and saw service in the First World War. He was posted to both Egypt and France, and was badly gassed on the Western Front. He left the Army in 1923.
Following the end of his service, he began to work on a farm and doing a milk round with a horse and cart. At the age of 29, in 1927, he married Dorothy Read, a local girl and they went on to have two sons and two daughters. They would be married for 50 years. By 1932, he was now employed as a ganger at North Holmwood Brickyard in Dorking, Surrey, cycling six miles each way in all weathers. He would work at the brickyard for the rest of his working life, except for the war years, 1939-1945, when he worked at the Schermuly Factory at Newdigate, Surrey. The factory was a munitions works and vital to the war effort.
On 16th May 1941, an explosion occurred in a building at the Schermuly Factory where explosives were being broken down. A large fire broke out and Clark, a workman, was badly burned; Percy Weller entered the burning building and succeeded in rescuing Clark, but he subsequently died from his injuries. In effecting this rescue Weller ran great personal risks, not only from the fire but also from the danger of further explosions, which did happen shortly afterwards, demolishing the building.
Percy, who also served in the Home Guard during the war, at a rank of Corporal, was awarded the Edward Medal in Bronze on 24th October 1941. He was presented with his medal at Buckingham Palace by King George VI in November 1941. Following the end of the war, he returned to the brickyard, eventually retiring in 1970, aged 72. In 1971, following a change in the Royal Warrant, he was offered the chance to exchange his Edward Medal for a George Cross. Percy declined. Percy’s later life saw him blighted by breathing problems attributed to his exposure to explosive chemicals in the war. He died on 22nd April 1979, and was buried in Leigh Churchyard, Reigate, Surrey. His Edward Medal, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal and Army Rifle Association Medal are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: ST BARTHOLOMEW CHURCH, LEIGH, SURREY.
Picture - Kevin Brazier