Andrew Murray PERRY
Eyes blue, Hair brown, Complexion fresh
The search for DNA - can you help find Andrew’s Scottish connections?
Andrew Perry was born on Hindmarsh Island in South Australia on 30th June 1870 to James and Susan Perry, one of nine children. Andrew was 45 years and 3 months old when he enlisted at Adelaide on 27th September 1915. He arrived in France nine months later in June 1916 and was reported missing one month later on 20th July.
Private Andrew Perry was one of many soldiers killed at Fromelles whose graves are unknown and we are currently seeking family connections with a view to the identification of suitable DNA donors for the sole, specific purpose of identification. A single donor for the mitochondrial DNA has been located but a Y DNA donor is proving elusive – that is, a male person who is a direct descendant in the male line of one of James Douglas Perry´s sons. James and Susan Perry had a deal of tragedy in their lives. Four of their nine children died before them. If you believe you can help, please contact us (details at end of this story).
An employee of the railways, Andrew was a carpenter by trade when he enlisted in September 1915. At the time, he was 45 years and 3 months old but lopped a year off claiming to be 44 to ensure he met the enlistment age limits that had increased from 38 to 45 years in June 1915. He completed his basic military training in Adelaide before sailing with the 3rd reinforcements, 32nd Battalion on board the HMAT A28 Miltiades in February 1916.
The new recruits joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt, and proceeded to France in June 1916, destined for the Western Front. The 32nd Battalion fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, having only entered the front-line trenches 3 days previously. The attack was a disastrous introduction to battle for the 32nd - it suffered 718 casualties, almost 75 per cent of the battalion's total strength, but closer to 90 per cent of its actual fighting strength.
Private Andrew Perry was one of those casualties, killed by a sniper’s bullet during the fighting. However, news of his fate was only determined many months later with his sister – as his next of kin – only advised initially that he was ‘missing in action’.
Killed in Action
In November 1916, Andrew’s name appeared on a list of deceased soldiers received from the German authorities. Corroboration of his death came in the form of the return of his identity disc and also a witness statement in January 1917 from a fellow soldier, Lance Corporal 2022 Walter Dyke, who had been captured and taken prisoner by the Germans after the Battle of Fromelles.
Lance Corporal Dyke gave a second statement to the Red Cross in London in December 1918 after his release from the prisoner of war camp. He stated:
“On 19th July at Fleurbaix in our attack, after we had taken the enemy's first line trench, we were together firing from a mound, when he was shot by sniper's bullet through forehead. Killed instantly. We went forward afterwards, but enemy recovered the ground taken. His body was left where he fell.”
A second 32nd Battalion soldier who was taken prisoner at Fromelles, Private 2007 Alfred Corrigan, also gave evidence after his repatriation to England in January 1919:
“At Fleurbaix on 19/20th July 1916, I passed close to Perry's body lying on the field. This was between Enemy's 2nd or 3rd lines. (3rd line was our objective.) He was lying on his side, with his rifle alongside his face. His helmet was off. He had been hit by machine gun bullet in forehead. I saw his body about 7 o'clock in evening of 19th July. I was taken prisoner of war next morning. We came over in same reinforcements 3rd of 32nd Battalion. He had a bald head, a tall chap about 14 stone weight.”
Andrew’s death was unofficially confirmed by the Red Cross in January 1917 but it was more than two months later before the official court of enquiry confirmed that Pte Andrew Perry was killed in action on 20 July 1916. His identification disc was returned to his sister as next of kin in late 1917.
While Andrew Perry currently has no identified grave, he is commemorated at the VC Corner Australian Memorial and Cemetery at Fromelles and also on:
- The roll of honour, Australian War Memorial - Canberra, ACT
- Adelaide National War Memorial – Adelaide, South Australia
- Adelaide South Australian Railways WWI and WWII Honour Boards– Adelaide, South Australia
- Naracoorte War Memorial – Naracoorte, South Australia
- Naracoorte and District Town Hall Honour Board WWI – Naracoorte, South Australia
In recent times, family members have also honoured Andrew Perry by remembering his service by visiting the Fromelles cemetery. Karen Lobban - great-granddaughter of Andrew’s sister, Maria Rebecca Lobban - travelled to Fromelles in 2010 for the official opening of the Pheasant Wood cemetery. In extracts from her blog entry dedicated to the journey, Karen said:
“I was on a journey to pay my respects to a man I knew nearly nothing about, but with whom I share a common story.
………..Whether Andrew will ever be found is unknown, but to have made the journey, to hear the bells at Bethune that he himself may have heard, to remember him on the ground where he fell, to pause and to reflect: I can’t think of a greater privilege.”
We hope that finding a suitable Y DNA donor may lead to identifying where Andrew is buried and so allow him the honour of a headstone to commemorate his life and sacrifice.
The search for DNA - what we know so far…..
Having had success in locating a mitochondrial DNA donor, focus has shifted to identifying descendants of the male Perry line – a line that has so far proved elusive for researchers. As a starting point, researchers concentrated on Andrew’s five brothers:
- John James Perry 1859-1936 – married Mary Miller (or Mrs H. Seymour per http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35422418 ), had 3 sons, 6 daughters.
- Douglas William Perry 1861-1893 – No known marriage or children
- Edward George Perry 1863-1899 – No known marriage or children
- Roland James Perry 1867-1932 – married Margaret Arthur, 3 daughters, 1 adopted son
- James Douglas Perry 1873-1899 – No known marriage or children
With no fruitful avenues of enquiry emanating from the sons of James Perry, researchers looked more closely at James Perry senior in the hope of going back a generation or two to find alternative Y-DNA lines through any of James’ brothers or uncles – if he had them.
Accordingly, researchers discovered that James Douglas Perry (1806-1904) had lived a long and adventurous life. In a newspaper interview conducted in his 97th year, James Perry was described as:
“a loyal British subject under five sovereigns - 14 years under George III,10 years under George IV, seven years under William IV, 62 years under Queen Victoria, and now a subject under Edward II.”
As an aside, it is well worth reading the whole news article to understand the very full life that James experienced over almost a century.
According to James’ recorded version of his life, he was born and educated in Glasgow and spent some years in the army and with the East India Chartered Company serving in England and in India before emigrating in his 40s to Australia. Arriving in South Australia in 1854, James served with the mounted police, worked with colonial stores and the armoury in Adelaide before eventually joining the volunteer cavalry and then taking up farming, first at Hindmarsh Island and later at Naracoorte. In his personal life, James was married in 1856 to Irish immigrant Susan Wauhope (various spellings) and they went on to have nine children.
Little is known of James’ family or early decades in Scotland and this is a significant hurdle in attempting to trace earlier generations to identify other potential Y-DNA donors. Of course, there is also a wonderful family story – a story that may just be a genealogical red herring rather than truth - that James’ true name was Perry James, the eldest son of a titled family in Scotland who fell in love with someone thought not suitable by the family. He gave his next youngest brother a knife for sixpence (the honourable way of severing all ties) and joined the Indian Army. Truth or fiction, we do not know but whatever the truth of James Perry’s family we have yet to find confirmation.
Accordingly, the search for Y DNA lines continues and we hope the readers of Andrew’s story may help to one day provide vital clues.
Can you help? DNA (particularly Y DNA) is still being sought for family connections to
|Soldier||Andrew Murray PERRY 1870-1916|
|Brothers||John James, Douglas William, Edward George, Roland James and James Douglas|
|Parents||James Douglas PERRY 1806-1904, born Glasgow, died SA|
|Susan WAUHOPE 1831-1910, born Cavan Ireland, died SA|
|Paternal||Not known - presumed of Glasgow area. We are particularly looking for any Perry lines from Glasgow|
|Maternal||Not known – presumed of Cavan, Ireland|
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