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From Bank to Battlefield

Percy John Warrell Stephenson

Photo of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Hilmer Smith
 

Percy Stephenson was a 26 year old clerk from the Commonwealth Bank's Brisbane Office. He had worked at the Commonwealth Bank since its inception, and was also one of the first members to work at the Brisbane branch when it opened in January 1913. Percy enlisted on 18 December 1914, and was initially assigned as a Driver for the Australian Army Service Corps, before embarking overseas in May 1915.

Serving in both Gallipoli and France, Percy's role throughout his military service was in combat support, first with the Service Corps and then as a member of the 26th Infantry Battalion. His dedication to duty saw him become Staff Quartermaster Sergeant in February 1917, before progressing through the ranks to become Lieutenant in January 1918. Percy was also attached to the London office of the Commonwealth Bank for six weeks from July 1917 to assist with the Australian war loan that was being floated in London.

It was after being attached to the Commonwealth Bank that Percy began to have a more active role in the fighting. Before returning to his unit in France he attended a course at the Lewis Gun School. His first opportunity to put these new skills into practice was in March 1918 when the 26th Battalion was stationed in Belgium as part of the defence against the German Spring Offensive.

Percy remained with the 26th Battalion through until the end of the war. Upon his return to Australia in 1919 he resumed work at the Commonwealth Bank, and in 1921 was appointed manager of the Charleville branch. He enjoyed a long and successful career at the Bank as manager in branches across regional Queensland. Percy retired in 1949.

WWI Service Summary 18 December 1914, enlisted
24 May 1915, embarked HMAT A11 Ascanius, Brisbane
3 June 1919, discharged
Rank Lieutenant
Service Number 6457
Age at enlistment 26 years
Role at Bank Clerk

Source: National Archives of Australia

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