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Percy Estall (1)

Percy Estall - 208 Squadron 1933 to 1938

The Association is indebted to David Estall for the following story about the life of his great uncle, Percy Estall, who served with 208 Squadron as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in the Atlas - Audax Era from January 1933 to April 1938.

Percy Estall was born in Wigan on 28th December 1911 but moved shortly afterward to Bolton in Lancashire (as it was then and should be again!). His father was a draper’s assistant born in Liverpool and his mother was a housewife. Her main task was to control the eight live children they had which was fairly typical during those times. Percy was the youngest of the 8. He had three sisters and, more influential for him, 4 elder brothers who all served for Queen and Country. To give some idea of the influence that his four elder brothers probably had on Percy, herewith a brief pen-portrait of each of them:

The eldest was Charles Fredrick (Charley) who was born in 1894 and like most of his generation volunteered at the start of WW1 and joined the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards. Unlike most, he managed to serve throughout the war despite being wounded in the scalp and arm at Passchendaele and taking an “unauthorised” day off for a pint during the Etaples mutinies of 1917. He had just re-signed into the Battalion at the end of the War when he promptly broke out of barracks for family reasons, for which he served 14 days detention, but was all the happier for it - so he said! I’m sure you will be relieved to hear that when Charley finally left the Guards in 1925 his commanding officer said that he was of “good character” but with one or two absences! A man short on words but long on action.

The second oldest brother (Thomas Henry) known as Harry was born in 1899 and joined the 4th Royal Regiment of Dragoon’s just as WW1 came to its conclusion. He served the least. Shortly following his attestation in 1919 he transferred to the Queen’s Bays and shipped to the Levant where, following a small 500 mile march across the desserts of Syria he contracted two bad bouts of malaria. He was never the same after he came back to Lancashire and worked outdoors for the remainder of his short life.

The third oldest was Arthur Stanley who was born in 1902 and always known in the family as “Bomber” for reasons that will become apparent. He joined the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in about 1920 and was sent to India where he spent most of his service. He seems to have served a lot of his time in Poona as the Regimental Signal trainer, interspersed with time in the Khyber Pass. He was the uncle I knew the most when, as a boy, he regaled me of his time on the border and using heliographs to signal each other etc. A hero of mine who became a special constable during WW2.


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