Percival W. Petch Papers
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
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This collection consists primarily of an unpublished manuscript along with photographic clippings and original photographs documenting the experiences of Percival William Petch (1886-1940), a Derby Scheme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.
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.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Faith Charlton
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
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
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
2 pages outlining Petch's personal timeline of movements.Physical Description
Brassard, armlet with the rare clear issue-stamping Red Crown emblem.Physical Description
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
Includes part of a program and photograph of Petch as well as lyrics to the song, "The Cabman's Story."Physical Description
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
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