Grave of an unknown soldier at Pheasant Wood Cemetery, Fromelles, France
Fromelles Association of Australia


Regimental Number
War Service
Egypt and Western Front
Prior Military Service
21 Aug 1915 at Blackboy Hill, WA
18 Jan 1916 from Fremantle, WA, on the HMAT A7 Medic
Next of Kin
Mother – Mrs Kezia Greenwood, Ainslie Road, North Fremantle, WA
Date & Place of Birth
1892, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Kezia nee SEWARD and Henry GREENWOOD (deceased)
Marital Status
Sixth of nine children (6 boys, 3 girls)
Printer’s machinist
Physical Description
5 feet 11 inches, 155 pounds (180.3cm, 70.3kg)
Eyes green, Hair light brown, Complexion fresh
Church of England
Killed in Action, 20 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France. On German Death List - aged 23
Place of Burial
No known grave
V.C. Corner, (Panel 5), Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified
Still looking for suitable YDNA donors.

The Greenwood family of Tunbridge Wells

One of nine children born to Henry Greenwood and Kezia Seward, Percy was born in 1892 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. Percy’s father was a well-respected police inspector who died suddenly in May 1903 aged only 47, leaving Kezia widowed with nine children aged between 3 and 22 years – five of them still dependent on Kezia.

A part of the local newspaper's report on the funeral for Percy's father, Inspector Henry Greenwood
source Kent and Sussex Courier, 5 June 1903, page 3

In about 1905 aged 13, Percy commenced an apprenticeship with the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser as a printer’s machinist. He completed six years with this firm.

The Greenwood family eventually migrated to Western Australia, possibly as Kezia had a niece there. Kezia left England in April 1913 on the ship Armadale bound for Fremantle with six of her nine children, the youngest being 12 and Percy about 21. Older siblings, Tolmash (Thomas) and Lily, stayed in England where they eventually married and settled. Her eldest son, Everard, followed the family to Australia in 1914. Kezia and the majority of the family settled in North Fremantle and Percy found work in the printing trade in Geraldton.

Signing up with the AIF

On enlisting in August 1915, Percy was aged 23 and successfully underwent his medical in Geraldton before proceeding to the Blackboy Hill training camp. He was originally assigned to the 28th Battalion, joining many of the WA boys who would belong to the same regiment and were with him at Fromelles. This would have included Jack Joyce who is also missing at Fromelles. Jack managed to have his photo taken twice while there in August 1915 and perhaps Percy is in the photo below - Jack Joyce is standing at the far right. A number of these boys could fit Percy’s general description – early twenties, tall, light brown hair….

Percy may or may not be in this group but the chances are high that he knew these men. 1624 Private Jack Joyce (standing at far right) with a group of mates at Blackboy Hill training camp, 30th August 1915. Jack was 28 years old, 5 feet 3 inches, fair complexion and also from England (Wolverhampton). Harry Brankstone of the 28th Battalion is also in the group but not identified.
source State Library of Western Australia, World War 1 Centenary Project, 4419B

Percy left Fremantle with the 28th Battalion on board the troopship Medic in February 1916. On arrival in Egypt, he was transferred to the 32nd Battalion which was originally made up of two companies from South Australia and two from Western Australia so he likely met up with fellow trainees from the Black Boy Hill Camp.

According to the Australian War Museum website, the 32nd Battalion fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, having only entered the front-line trenches three 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 Percy Greenwood was one of those casualties, reported missing after the battle.

Copy of Death Voucher
source AWM: Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – Percy John GREENWOOD, page 6

The German Death List

Kezia Greenwood, as Percy’s next of kin, was advised in late August 1916 that he was missing. Percy’s name appeared on the German Death List dated 4 November and it was interpreted that he might possibly be a prisoner of war and Kezia was advised accordingly in February 1917. This however was revised and, after an official Court of Enquiry, notification came through in May that he had been killed in action on 20 July 1916.

Kezia did not however give up hope that he might be a prisoner and there is a letter to the Red Cross dated 1919 on file where she encloses a photo of Percy and his brother and thanks them for their help. Unfortunately, the copy of the photo was not retained.

The Army could provide no additional detail about Percy’s death, a fact that was highlighted quite starkly when Kezia replied to an official form letter seeking details for the inscription on her son’s grave. This was in 1922, some six years after Percy’s death and, of course, he had no known grave. Her reply dated 2 March 1922 highlighted that she had been informed that her son had been killed in action on 20th July 1916 but, “I have never been told in which place or action he was killed.” The authorities had the decency to respond promptly (within a week) to advise that Percy had been killed at Fromelles and to better explain the purpose of their original request.

The memorial plaque above appeared on a UK WW1 collectables site in August 2020. Commonly known as the ‘dead man’s penny’, it is the one issued to Kezia Greenwood for her son.
source Callington Collectables website 2020

Update on the memorial plaque: Having found the plaque, researchers with the Fromelles Association of Australia quickly arranged to purchase it to ensure it found a home where Percy’s story could be told and his memory preserved. With the help of Australian and United Kingdom researchers, the penny is now safely in the hands of the Association and plans are underway to find a place where it can be preserved and Percy’s contribution honoured.
It is also hoped that we can use the penny to generate publicity in an attempt to locate donors as, despite years of searching, we are still in need of Y DNA to help identify Percy.

As her husband was dead, Kezia received her son’s war medals and his memorial plaque and scroll. Official regulations reflected the norms of the era giving preference to a soldier’s male relatives – something that sits less comfortably in the 21st century. Percy’s identification disc, returned by the Germans, had already been forwarded to Kezia in November 1917 as his next of kin.

DNA is still being sought for family connections to

SoldierPercy John GREENWOOD 1891-1916
And through his brothers, seeking YDNA donors on the male line
Everard Fred 1880-1953 (Australia)-one adopted daughter
Tolmash Kenneth 1882-1954 (UK)– one daughter, one son
Reginald 1890-1973 (Australia)– one adopted son
Donald 1898-1972– no issue
Leslie 1900-1968– one daughter
ParentsHenry GREENWOOD 1854-1903 - Medstead, Hampshire
and Kezia SEWARD 1858-1929 - Wield, Hampshire
PaternalBridger GREENWOOD 1810-1895
and Caroline KNIGHT 1824-1893 – both of Medstead, Hampshire
MaternalWilliam SEWARD 1825-1875
and Charlotte GOODALL 1832-1909 – both of Wield, Hampshire

Seeking DNA Donors

Fromelles Association of Australia


The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).


The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).