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Percival George PILCHER

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Signaller 6300 19y5m 20 Dec 1915 11 Apr 1920 2

Private Percival George Pilcher (1896 – 1980)

Pilcher Brothers Booklet 

The Pilchers of Pentland

Richard and Lydia Pilcher and their two baby sons embarked from England on the sailing ship Stirlingshire in 1882, via the Cape of Good Hope to the port of Townsville where Richard soon owned a small business as a general blacksmith and built and invented an efficient scarifier which was exhibited in the Townsville annual show. Richard was enterprising and industrious. After establishing a successful farming business in the Ayr District, the family moved to the Deep Lead Goldfield near Cape River. 

Richard and Lydia took up land six miles from Pentland and the farm they established became the foundation of the several properties which were later worked by their sons. Pentland is a town in north-western Queensland between Charters Towers and Hughenden, 240 kilometres (150 miles) from the North Queensland city of Townsville. The Cape River rises in the area.

Mr and Mrs Pilcher stayed on their selection with their family till they died, Richard in 1939 and Lydia the following year. They were well known in their local community, notably hospitable, musical, involved in church and school activities. The family included seven sons and three daughters. 

The names of their four sons who served in the Great War appear on the honour boards in the Soldiers Memorial Hall at Pentland and Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church in Brisbane. The two older brothers, Algernon and Ernest came to Brisbane as ambulance officers and were members of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. They enlisted to serve in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914. Their two younger brothers, Leon and Percy enlisted in Charters Towers in January 1916 and began their training at Enoggera before embarkation later that year.

Enlistment and Service

Percy was the youngest of the four Pilcher boys from Pentland who served in the Great War. He was only 19 years 5 months old when he enlisted at Charters Towers on 7 January 1916 – the same day as his brother Leon. Both were then railway employees. Both were assigned to the 9th Infantry Battalion, Depot Signal Company, and both embarked on the same ship, HMAT Clan McGillivray from Brisbane. They disembarked at Plymouth, England on 2 November 1916 and both were admitted to hospital with mumps. They both marched in to training on 9 November but Private Percy Pilcher again entered hospital in February 1917, this time to Fargo Military Hospital with influenza. 

During a period of further training at Durrington, Private Pilcher was charged for absence without leave “from tattoo 7/4/17 till 9.30 pm on 8/4/17."  He was awarded detention in custody awaiting trial and forfeited four days’ pay.  From May 1917 till February 1918, Private Percy Pilcher served as a signaller in France. After a short period in a Wireless School in England in January 1919, he returned to Australia on Port Darwin and was discharged on 12 June 1919.

Life in Australia after Service

Percival George Pilcher settled in Pentland and Charters Towers for the rest of his life. In 1921, he married Dorothy McCutcheon McMillan and they had three children. Their Pentland property was Springfern. Like his brothers, Percy displayed fruit in the Townsville and Charters Towers annual shows and he was active in the work of the District Hospital Committee.


He died in 1980, aged 84 years.

The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.                             (Mario Puzo)

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records
• Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Reports, 1901 – 1925
The Queenslander, Brisbane, 8 July 1916, 27 July 1918, 10 August 1918, 28 December 1929
Townsville Daily Bulletin, 4th May 1926, 26 August 1954
The Northern Miner, Charters Towers, 9 October 1917, 25 October 1922, 30 January 1924, 29 July 1927, 22 October 1932, 21 July 1934, 2 September 1937, 22 July 1939, 31 July 1946
The North Queensland Register, Townsville, 9 December 1901
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 7 September 1918
• Pentland Cemetery Records
• Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Compiled by N. E. Adsett, Brisbane, October 2014 ©



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