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Percival W. Petch Papers

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Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Petch, Percival William, 1886-1940

Percival William Petch served with the British Royal Army as a Derby Scheme volunteer from 1916 to 1919. After being rejected from serving twice, Petch was recruited into the army in March 1916, and arrived in Thessaloniki in November 1917. From September 1918 until his discharge in December 1919, Petch was confined to several hospitals and camps in Greece, Turkey, and finally England where he was treated for various illnesses, including malaria. He was ultimately promoted to Corporal in March 1919.

Born in 1886 in Worcestershire to John Robert Petch (b. 1862) and Fanny Annie Colsey (1862-1937), Petch worked for a time as a clerk, and later as a performer and comedian. He died in Lancashire in 1940.

This collection consists primarily of an unpublished manuscript along with photographic clippings and original photographs documenting the experiences of Percival William Petch (1886-1940), a Derby Scheme volunteer with the British Army who was stationed in Thessaloniki (Salonika) during World War I. Also included are a couple of poems by Petch as well as some ephemera and war memorabilia, including a Derby Scheme uniform armband.

Some correspondence, war memorabilia, ephemera, and photographs relating to Petch's brother, Eric George Petch (1892-1965), are also included in the collection. Eric Petch, a druggist, also served in World War I as a private with the British Army Labour Corps. He later worked for the Refuge Field Staff Association.

A few Petch family photographs and ephemera are also included.

Purchased in 2017. (AM 2018-34)

Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies, with support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in January 2018. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in January 2018.

No materials were separated during 2018 processing.

Publisher
Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Faith Charlton
Finding Aid Date
2018
Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Manuscript Documenting Wartime Experience, 1917-1919. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Petch's manuscript, which he authored upon his return to Enlgand, covers the years 1917 to 1919, and describes his experiences along the Macedonian Front. In the manuscript, Petch includes a fair amount of ethnographic observations and a description of his journey from England to Greece, along with observations about the hardships imposed by the war, and the awkward integration of multiple nationalities trying to survive economically, physically, and psychologically. Perhaps most significant, in terms of historic events in Thessaloniki, is a chapter entitled "Flames Destroy," which describes the devastating Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917.

The manuscript consists of 82 typescript pages of narrative with handwritten annotations, a table of contents, and attached newspaper clippings scattered throughout.

Physical Description

1 folder

Clippings and Photographs Documenting Wartime Experience, 1917-1919. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

39 pages of clipped and pasted illustrations, seemingly from a scrapbook, mostly in the form of on-the-spot newsprint photographic views as well as a few small original photographs taken by the writer and one example of local paper currency.

Physical Description

1 folder

"Very Brief Record of War-time Movements", 1919. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

2 pages outlining Petch's personal timeline of movements.

Physical Description

1 folder

Derby Scheme Uniform Armband, circa 1916. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Brassard, armlet with the rare clear issue-stamping Red Crown emblem.

Physical Description

1 folder

Poems, circa 1917-1937. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

One poem by Petch is entitled, "Somewhere in France;" the other, "Inadequate Tribute to My Beloved Mother (Mrs. Fanny Annie Petch, nee Colsey)."

Physical Description

1 folder

Ephemera and Photograph Relating to Petch as a Performer, circa 1930. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Includes part of a program and photograph of Petch as well as lyrics to the song, "The Cabman's Story."

Physical Description

1 folder

Eric Petch: Correspondence, Photographs, and Ephemera, 1915-1934. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Most of the items relate to Petch's military service, including a couple of photos of Petch in his uniform, an unused field message book (Army Book 153) issued in 1915, and a notification of his enrollment into the army reserve, among other items.

Physical Description

1 folder

Petch Family: Photographs and Ephemera, circa 1900-1953. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Includes photos of Percival Petch and of his mother and father. Ephemeral items, including a couple of food ration books, relate to Mr. and Mrs. S. Hassall.

Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest