Prior to enlisting in the army, Percy Greaves was employed as a clerk at the Co-operative Insurance Society in Manchester. He also acted as the organist at Bethel United Methodist Church in his home town of Failsworth, Lancashire; a post he had held for six years.
Greaves enlisted in the army as a private on 28 January 1916 and joined the Manchester Regiment. It wasn’t long before he transferred to the King’s Regiment, 1st Battalion, and was shipped out to the Western Front as part of that unit on 31 July 1916. The 1st Battalion had been one of the first units to arrive in France at the start of the war, landing at Le Havre in early August 1914. Greaves was brought into the unit to boost the number of troops.
Sadly, just over three months after reaching the front line, he went missing in Flanders, France between 13 and 15 November 1916, aged 24. Greaves was officially confirmed by the army to have been killed in action in March 1917, and his family were notified as such.
Cooperative News, 31 March 1917, page 313.
http://www.1914-1918.net/kings.htm [Accessed 11 April 2015].
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.