Born on the 27th of January 1892 at Mudgee, NSW – son of Andrew BAKER and Sarah Ann OAKLEY – who married at Mudgee in 1869
Of Kiaora, Robertson St, Mudgee
Andrew died in 1928, aged 86; and Sarah died 18/11/1934, aged 84
Siblings: (all born Mudgee) James William b.1870; Mary A b.1872; Jessie b.1874; Pleasant Ann b.1876; Andrew b.1879; Ernest Reuben b.6/4/1881 – marr Elsie M. – Tramway Inspector, Wellington City Council, NZ – WW1: NZEF, 91333, DOI 11/11/1918 NZ; George b.1883; Esther b.1886; Oswald Leslie (Oss) b.1889 – WW1: Cpl 4440, 2nd Bn, KIA 18/9/1918; Leila A b.1894;
Religion: Church of England
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Enlisted on the 24/7/1915 at Liverpool, NSW, aged 23 years and 6 months
Deserted 1/10/1915, but re-attested and embarked for overseas service on the 5/10/1915 on the A32 Themistocles as Private 2517, with the 5th Reinforcements of the 19th Battalion for Egypt
Following the return of the troops from the Gallipoli campaign and the rearrangement of battalions, he was taken on strength of the 19th Battalion at Katoomba Camp on the 5/2/1916
Embarked at Alexandria 18/3/1916 to join the BEF and disembarked Marseilles, France 25/3/1916
Wounded in the right thigh on the 26/7/1916 and admitted to the 8th Stationary Hospital, Wimereux 27/7 – transferred to the No. 1 Convalescent Depot 30/7, and then discharged to Base Details on the 31/7/1916
Taken on strength of the 2nd Division Base Depot, Etaples 4/8/1916
Re-joined his Battalion 7/8/1916
Whilst in the trenches near Pozieres on the 25/8/1916, he was struck in the head by H.E. shell fragments while looking over the parapet
Removed to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station in a deeply unconscious condition, where his forehead was opened up and much depressed bone removed – he was then transferred to the 3rd Stationary Hospital, Boulogne on the 30/8, where his right eye was excised and an indectomy performed on the left eye
Transferred to England on the hospital ship Jan Breydel 11/9/1916, and admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, before being transferred to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital (AAH), Harefield 13/11/1916
On the 9/12/1916 he entered the St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blind Soldiers where he was fully trained in Poultry Farming and Mat Making – returning to hospital for a few days here and there during his course of study, which ended on the 23/6/1917
Returned to Australia on the HS Karoola, departing England 3/7/1917, and arriving 30/8/1917
Resident of “Coningsby”, Beaconsfield Parade, Lindfield, Sydney in October 1918
Married on the 25th of February 1919 at St John’s Church, Mudgee to his English fiancé Amy Elizabeth HOOPER (who had cared for him in hospital)
Amy, born in Islington, England in the first quarter of 1895, had come to Australia on the SS Miltiades, departing Avonmouth 21/12/1918
Presented with a cottage and poultry yards in early 1919 by the Mudgee Voluntary Workers Association
Member of the NSW Blinded Soldiers’ Association
Died on the 15th of November 1925 at Graythwaite, Nth Sydney, aged 33 (from war wounds) – Buried Mudgee
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 28 Sept 1916 (p.21):
Mudgee Hero Loses Eye
Mr Andrew Baker, of Mudgee South, has received word from the Defence Authorities that his son Sniper Percy Baker, had been severely wounded. On applying to the Sydney Red Cross Bureau for fuller particulars concerning his son, Mr Baker learned that his son had lost an eye, and the other was in a very critical condition. Percy is in a London Hospital, and despite his severe injuries he is in the best of spirits. Oswald, another son of Mr Baker, is at the front doing his “bit,” but no news has been received of him for some time. It is to be hoped that the doctors will succeed in saving the sight of Percy’s other eye.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 15 Mar 1917 (p.31):
Private Perce Baker in St Dunstan’s
INSTITUTION FOR THE BLIND
Mr Haslett, manager of the Mudgee Railway Refreshment Rooms, is in receipt of a letter from a relative in England to whom he suggested visiting Private Perce Baker, stating the affliction and circumstances of the Mudgee boy mentioned. The letter reads: –
“You will be pleased to know that Dorothy (sister of the writer) acted on your suggestion that she should try to visit Mr Baker. She wrote immediately to the matron of the hospital at Wandsworth Common, and she replied that Mr Baker had been transferred about a fortnight earlier to the Australian Hospital at Harefield, about three miles from Uxbridge. Dorothy therefore wrote to Mr Baker at Harefield, and said that you had told us about him, and that she would be pleased to go and see him if he would let her know visiting days and hours, but that, being in a bank, she could go only on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. She got a letter back saying he would be glad of a visit from her, and she went the following Sunday. She had to go from Wimbledon to Paddington, and when she got to the nearest station it was three miles from the camp. Mr Baker had mentioned in his letter that he was quite blind. The hospital at Harefield is arranged in a number of small huts, and Dorothy said that she was the only visitor in that hut that afternoon, which was very windy and cold. She stayed between two and three hours. Dorothy told us that Mr Baker had been very pleased with her visit, and had informed her that he had arranged to go to St Dunstan’s Hostel, Regent’s Park, which had been especially fitted out to teach blinded soldiers something by which they will be able to earn their own living. She promised to pay him another visit when he got to St Dunstan’s, as that would be much more accessible. This she did. Mr Baker said he had heard about the tube railways of London, but had never been on one; so Dorothy took him from Baker-street to Piccadilly Circus on the Bakerloo tube. They had tea at one of Lyons’ cafes, where a band plays, and when they came out again in Piccadilly Circus station they had to make use of the moving staircase, so that Mr Baker had two new sensations in the afternoon. (These moving staircases are taking the place of lifts at the tube stations.) When they got into Baker Street Dorothy had great difficulty in finding her way to St Dunstan’s, the fog being so dense, but she eventually managed it by keeping close to the railings. After she had seen Mr Baker indoors she had to get back to Wimbledon, but managed this fairly well. She also arranged to go to St Dunstan’s next morning to bring Mr Baker over to dinner with us. She did so, and I think Mr Baker quite enjoyed his visit. She asked him if he would like to go out in the afternoon, and he said he would like to go and visit some of his old chums in the Wandsworth Hospital. Dorothy took him there. He had a chat with them, and then they came back to tea. In the evening she went back with him to St Dunstan’s. It seems that he was in the trenches near Pozieres (one of the villages on the Somme) with a machine gun, when one of the German shells dropped near, and he and another were badly injured. He was struck on the forehead, and was rendered unconscious for 12 days. He seems thoroughly to have recovered his general health, but has lost the sight of both eyes. He is very cheerful and speaks hopefully of the future. He says that St Dunstan’s is the finest institution of its kind in the world. He is learning the typewriter and to read Braille, and has been given a watch with raised figures and strong hands, so that he can tell the time by it. He has learnt basket weaving, and is, after Xmas, going to undertake a course of study in poultry farming. He said that the Colonials at St Dunstan’s who had no friends to go to for Xmas were going to Brighton, and will stay there till the New Year. We shall expect to see him again when he is back at St Dunstan’s. Mr Baker said he would be glad if you would let Mr Waters, the Government inspector at the works where he was, know how he is getting on. He also wished me to say from my own observations that he was in good spirits, as he thought that his parents might think that he assumed cheerfulness in order not to distress them. He had formed so high an opinion of St Dunstan’s that he is trying to persuade one or two chums who are suffering like himself to make application for a course of training there. He expects to have six months. As Mr Baker has no relatives in England you will be pleased that you thought of writing to Dorothy about him.”
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Mon 10 Sept 1917 (p.3):
Welcome For Private Perce Baker
The public are asked not to forget the picture show welcome at the Alhambra to-morrow (Tuesday) night. The welcome is for Private Perce Baker, who has returned from the war totally blind. It is asked that they shall do their duty by being in attendance and showing their appreciation of the great sacrifice for his country made by Private Baker.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 13 Sept 1917 (p.11):
Private Percy Baker
BENEFIT PICTURE SHOW
The benefit picture show for Pte Perce Baker, held at the Alhambra Picture Theatre on Tuesday night was a great success. The commencement of the entertainment was advertised for 8 o’clock. Long before the stipulated time the doors had to be closed, and a large number of would-be attenders were turned away. Private Baker entered as his photo was being shown on the screen at the theatre and was greeted with applause that was loud and continued. Private Baker briefly thanked the people in attendance, the Town Band, Miss Nina Bell and the committee, who all did good work, and helped to make the function the success it really was.
A soldier’s parcel, donated by Mrs Bell, was raffled and won by Miss Tarrant. This realised £3/5/. Altogether a sum amounting to about £30 will be cleared.
THE WELCOME SOCIAL
As a result of the Welcome Home Social tendered by the Druids and Foresters Lodges to Private Percy Baker at the Mechanics on Thursday night last a sum of £37 will be handed to the returned hero.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Mon 12 Nov 1917 (p.2):
Private Perce Baker
EXPRESSES HIS THANKS
(To the Editor)
Sir, – Permit me, through the columns of your widely read paper, to express my best thanks for the kind and considerate receptions accorded to me on my return to my native town after 23 months’ service with the Australian Expeditionary Forces in Egypt and France. Although sadly afflicted, the appreciations of my action and duty, I hope well and faithfully performed, consoles me greatly in my sacrifice, and I feel more than ever convinced that in taking up arms for my King and country the forfeit of life itself would not be too great on behalf of a people whose humanitarian principles have in my humble case been so nobly evinced. For the generous contributions by the public of this district towards my future comfort I am extremely grateful, and I ask all donors to accept my very best thanks.
Thanking you in anticipation, I am, yours, etc.,
PERCE BAKER, Mudgee, November 12, 1917
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 15 Nov 1917 (p.12):
Homes for Soldiers
MUDGEE VOLUNTARY WORKERS’ ACTIVITIES – HELP IN KIND SOLICITED
The Mudgee District Voluntary Workers’ Association is about to begin the erection of poultry yards, etc., for Mr Perce Baker. A large quantity of timber, including 230 hardwood posts, 8ft long and at least 5in in diameter at small end, also pine poles for rafters, etc., is required. Donations of such classes of timber in quantities large or small will be greatly appreciated. Already the secretary (Mr G. Campbell, Menah) has received promises of substantial help, and he will be glad to hear from everyone prepared to assist in this or any other way.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 12 Dec 1918 (p.18):
Mr Perce Baker : Blind Soldiers’ Sculling Races
Mr Perce Baker writes from Sydney to Mr Walter Hawkins, hon. secretary of the Mudgee Voluntary Workers, asking if the opening of his house, erected by the Association, and now rapidly approaching completion, could be put off until after Christmas. He explains: –
“The reason for this is because the blind soldiers are having a day’s sculling races on December 21 (this month), at which I should like to be present. The prizes are fairly good and there is a big possibility of the Victorian blind soldiers coming over to compete against us, and the day promises to be a fairly attractive one. I shall, of course, have to fall in with the arrangements made by the Voluntary Workers’ Association as regards the opening, but would like you to try and arrange a day after Christmas.”
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Mon 24 Feb 1919 (p.2):
Private Percy Baker’s Marriage
The marriage of Private Percival Allan Baker, son of Mr and Mrs Baker, of Kiaora, Robertson-street, Mudgee, with Miss Mary [sic] Elizabeth Hooper, who arrived in Australia by the Miltiades a few days since, will take place at St John’s Church, Mudgee, on Tuesday afternoon at 3.30.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 27 Feb 1919 (p.15):
An Interesting Wedding
BAKER – HOOPER
A most interesting wedding was celebrated at St John’s Church of England, Mudgee, on Tuesday afternoon, when the Rev Canon W.J. Dunstan united in the holy bonds of matrimony Private Percival A. Baker (Mudgee’s returned blind soldier), son of Mr and Mrs Andrew Baker, sen. Of Mudgee South, and Miss Amy Hooper, daughter of Mrs Glazier, of Walthamstowe (England). Previous to the arrival at the church of the wedding party a very large crowd of people had gathered to witness the ceremony, and by the time the bride arrived the church was packed, and a large number of people had to be content with standing outside. ………………………………………………………………..
The happy couple left by the evening’s train for Cronulla, where the honeymoon will be spent, after which they will return to their future home, Mudgee South. ………………………………..
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 13 Mar 1919 (p.25):
For Private Baker – SUCCESSFUL BENEFIT SOCIAL
The social organised by the Coo-ee Girls for the purpose of furnishing Mr Percy Baker’s (Mudgee’s blind soldier) kitchen, was held in the Mechanics’ Institute on Monday night. It proved to be one of the most successful functions yet held in Mudgee. The attendance was very large, and a great number of tickets, not represented in the hall, were disposed of. ……………………………………
It is expected that about £30 will be cleared as a result of the effort.
Glen Innes Examiner (NSW), Thur 13 Mar 1919 (p.2):
Blind Soldier’s Romance
A Mudgee message to the Sydney “Evening News” says that the official opening and handing over to Private Percy Baker of the cottage erected for him by the Voluntary Workers’ Association, has been performed. Adjoining the cottage are spacious poultry yards, stocked with 250 head of fowls, which have been reared and presented to the returned soldier. Private Baker was invalided home after being severely wounded in the head, which caused total blindness. He was married on Wednesday to an English girl, whom he met – but has not seen – in one of the hospitals in England. The bride elect arrived in New South Wales last week.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Mon 9 Apr 1923 (p.8):
MR PERCY BAKER IN HOSPITAL
Mr Percy Baker has been an inmate of Grathwaite Convalescent Home, Sydney, for about two months. Miss Lovejoy recently visited that institution with a concert party, and had a conversation with our unfortunate friend. He sends kind regards to Mudgee folk.
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 19 Nov 1925 (p.16):
Passing of War Hero
MR P. BAKER’S IMPRESSIVE FUNERAL
Cr Perce Baker, one of Mudgee’s war heroes, was gathered to his fathers on Sunday last. This gallant, gentleman answered the call in the early days of the great struggle for freedom and after battling bravely for some considerable time sustained terrible injuries, which resulted in total loss of sight. He bore his trials with remarkable fortitude, and not a murmur escaped his lips. During his long stay in hospital he was lovingly cared for by the lady who later became his wife, and who accompanied him when he was invalided to Australia. Friends rallied to his assistance when he returned, and a patriotic band of voluntary workers erected a nice home at Mudgee South for the wounded hero and his fair bride. For a time he appeared to enjoy the best of health, and was quite happy in his new surroundings. However, the ravages of war later made themselves apparent, and he was removed to Sydney, where he gradually sank, the end coming as stated above.
The remains were brought to Mudgee on Tuesday morning and taken to St John’s Church of England, where an impressive service was conducted by Canon Parr prior to the funeral. As a mark of respect to one who has given his life in a noble cause the proprietors of business places in town closed their premises, and draped windows were evident on all sides. The funeral, which left the church at about 2.30 p.m., was one of the largest seen for some time. A troop of Boy Scouts a large number of returned soldiers, and a representative assemblage of friendly society members preceded the hearse while Mudgee and Salvation Army bandsmen, under the conductorship of Mr H. Searle played the “Dead March.” Red Cross Society representatives in uniform were also in attendance. Residents of Cooyal, Botobolar, and many surrounding districts attended in large numbers to pay the last sad tribute of respect to a gallant soldier and true friend. The collection of floral tributes was a beautiful one, many coming from centres far removed from Mudgee. Rev. Canon Parr performed the last sad rites at the graveside, and Bandsmen S. Searle and .?. Perram sounded the “Last Post.” To the bereaved relatives we extend our heartfelt sympathy.