Occupation: Farm Labourer
Brothers William (Will) and Percy Neal from the Rai Valley were amongst the first men to enlist when war was proclaimed, though Will tricked his way into enlisting, having already been rejected due to his flat feet. They were the eldest sons of farmers Charlie and Mary Neal (nee Boon) who had a family of six children. Their farm was in the Rimu Valley near Carluke, close to the Rai Valley village.
1885: William is born in Koromiko, Marlborough
1890: Percy is born in Koromiko, Marlborough
15 August: Both men are in the 10th (Nelson) Mounted Rifles when they enlist in Nelson. Will has apparently already failed his medical in Marlborough due to flat feet but is so determined to serve that he persuades Percy to accompany him to Nelson where he uses Percy’s medical report to hoodwink the enlistment office into accepting him.
16 October: Troopers Will and Percy Neal embark from Lyttelton with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles as part of the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. They have their horses with them.
3 December: The SS. Ruaphehu arrives in Alexandria, Egypt and the troops set up training camp.
7 July: The brothers embark from Egypt to the Dardanelles.
6-7 August: Will and Percy are on Gallipoli’s Sari Bair Range charged with capturing key high points including Chunuk Bair. That night Will is hit and killed by a gunshot to the chest on Bauchop Hill. He was aged 30 years. Percy received slight wounds in the same battle and is hospitalised.
October-November: Having recovered from his wound, Percy is in and out of hospital with enteritis, gastritis, jaundice and diarrhoea.
25 November: Percy is transported to England and admitted to hospital.
24 March: Percy rejoins his unit in Kantara, Egypt where, as part of the new Anzac Mounted Division, he helps defend the Suez Canal and the construction of an allied railway from the Turkish assault, and also serves in various battles across the Sinai Peninsula.
5 November: It is unknown when Percy’s horse, believed to be ‘Farley Bell’, is shot dead during the fighting in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula and he is given a donkey as a replacement. Percy is shot in the right knee during a day of heavy battle with the Turks and admitted to hospital in Heliopolis. He is back on duty a month later.
October- November: Percy contracts malaria while on duty in Jericho, on the Palestinian West Bank and is hospitalised several times with it before it is decided he is unfit for service.