Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Statton, Percy Clyde (1890–1959)

by Merrilyn Lincoln

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Percy Clyde Statton (1890-1959), by unknown photographer, 1916-19

Percy Clyde Statton (1890-1959), by unknown photographer, 1916-19

Australian War Memorial, H03332

Percy Clyde Statton (1890-1959), soldier and farmer, was born on 19 October 1890 at Beaconsfield, Tasmania, son of Edward Statton, miner, and his wife Maggie Lavinia, née Hoskins. Educated at Zeehan State School, he became a farm labourer at Tyenna. On 12 September 1907, giving his age as 21, he married with Methodist forms Elsie May Pearce; they were to have two daughters and a son.

Enlisting as a private in the Australian Imperial Force in March 1916, Statton was posted to the 40th Battalion and reached France in November. A temporary sergeant from January 1917, he was confirmed in rank in April. During the battle of Messines, Belgium, on 7-9 June he conducted carrying parties to the front line under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire; he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions. Wounded in October in the 3rd battle of Ypres, he was gassed at Villers-Bretonneux, France, on 10 June 1918.

Early on 12 August the 40th Battalion was assigned an objective south of the Proyart-Chuignes road, requiring an advance of some 1400 yards (1280 m). After covering about 875 yards (800 m), the battalion was halted by an intense artillery barrage. 'A' Company managed to reach Proyart village and with the aid of Statton's Lewis-gun achieved its objective; the rest of the battalion was then able to follow. At dusk the advance of the supporting 37th Battalion was held up by fierce machine-gun fire. Assisting the 37th's progress with two Lewis-guns, Statton saw the attack fail. He took three men with him and got to within 80 yards (73 m) of the first enemy strong-point. Revolver in hand, he then led his men across open ground into the German trench. They destroyed two machine-guns and Statton killed the crews. His party dashed towards the next two gun-posts whose crews fled, only to be killed by the two Lewis-guns which Statton had earlier sited. With one member of his party dead and another wounded, Statton and the third man crawled back to their lines and the 37th moved forward. That night Statton went out and brought in the wounded man and the body of the other. For his valour he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 26 November 1919 Statton received a hero's reception in Hobart. He was less certain, however, of a welcome from his wife who had warned the 'strapping, handsome soldier' that if he went off to war she would leave him when he returned. She kept her word and he divorced her on 1 October 1920. After demobilization, Statton found work in a sawmill and then became a farmer at Fitzgerald. On 21 December 1925 at the Registrar General's Office, Hobart, he married a divorcee Eliza Grace Hudson, née Parker (d.1945); on 16 December 1947 in Hobart he married with Baptist forms Monica Enid Effie Kingston, a teacher. They lived at Ouse where Statton worked as a commercial agent. In the 1950s he was employed by Australian Newsprint Mills.

Survived by his wife and son, Statton died in Hobart of stomach cancer on 5 December 1959 and was cremated with full military honours. His Victoria Cross is in Anglesea Barracks, Hobart.

Select Bibliography

  • F. C. Green, The Fortieth, a Record of the 40th Battalion (Hob, 1922)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily, second ed revised and condensed by J. Williams and A. Staunton (Canb, 1986)
  • London Gazette, 14 Aug 1917, 24 Sept 1918
  • Examiner (Launceston) 7 Dec 1959
  • Mercury (Hobart), 7 Dec 1959
  • Sunday Tasmanian, 11 Aug 1985
  • private information.

Citation details

Merrilyn Lincoln, 'Statton, Percy Clyde (1890–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/statton-percy-clyde-8631/text15081, published in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 17 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Percy Clyde Statton (1890-1959), by unknown photographer, 1916-19

Percy Clyde Statton (1890-1959), by unknown photographer, 1916-19

Australian War Memorial, H03332