Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Percy Ross, p.2

He served with the 69 Company (Sussex) 14th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry.  He signed up for one year on 24th February 1900 ‘unless the war lasts longer.’  He was 26 at the time and was designated as ‘independent’ under trade or calling.  He had previously served for some time in the Isle of Wight Volunteers.  In an article in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 3rd March 1900 entitled ‘Hastings Yeoman for the Front’, he is described as ‘Six feet high, broad and muscular, he should make an ideal soldier.’  It records that after University School he was educated in Germany and that he was a talented ‘black and white’ artist and a versatile and talented writer.

He achieved the rank of corporal, although he was demoted at one point for ‘shooting his horse without orders’ but reinstated after trying to rescue under fire his officer Lieutenant Stanley who was mortally wounded. He was awarded the DCM in September 1901 but the citation giving the reason for this has yet to be found. It may relate to his attempted rescue of Lieutenant Stanley although he had been killed a year earlier. Stanley’s father was an MP and made his own presentation to Ross at a dinner in Hastings in 1901 to commemorate his efforts. He also held the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps denoting the various campaigns he had taken part in.

His mother, Hannah, also went out to South Africa later in 1900 to help with the wounded. She visited battlefields and hospitals and sat with wounded and sick soldiers to talk to them and bring comforts. She returned home at the beginning of December 1900 only to discover by telegram in early January 1901 that in fact her son had been wounded in the leg in the middle of December and was in hospital in Pretoria. He apparently was also slightly wounded on the hand when laying a trail of gunpowder.

Whilst in South Africa he wrote and illustrated a book called ‘A Yeoman’s Letters’. This was very favourably reviewed in a variety of journals, including the Hastings and St Leonards Observer (31/8/1901).

Some Press Opinions.

DAILY TELEGRAPH.—'... Nothing better of this kind has yet appeared than "A Yeoman's Letters," by P. T. Ross.... Bright, breezy, and vivid are the stories of his adventures.... Corporal Ross not only writes lively prose, but really capital verse. His "Ballad of the Bayonet" is particularly smart. He is also a clever draughtsman, and his rough but effective caricatures form not the least attractive feature of a very pleasant book.

'STANDARD.—'In "A Yeoman's Letters," Mr. P. T. Ross has written the liveliest book about the War which has yet appeared.  Whatever amusement can be extracted from a tragic theme will be found in his vivacious "Letters." He seems one of those high-spirited and versatile young men who notice the humorous side of everything, and can add to the jollity of a company by a story, a song, an "impromptu" poem, or a pencilled caricature.'