Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer's Sword and Scabbard : 2nd Lieutenant P G Neeson, 26 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Pozieres Area, Pozieres
Accession Number REL30157
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made c 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer's sword and leather scabbard. The blade is etched on the right side with the Royal Coat of Arms and a small panel with the initials of PN (Percival Neeson). On the left side is the Royal Cypher of King George V and the makers name of Clement Gray, Sheffield. The nickel plated guard has a cartouche cypher of GVR. The grip is wire bound fishskin. The scabbard is light brown pigskin leather with a strap (broken) at the throat for fixing into the frog when worn with a Sam Browne belt.

History / Summary

This sword was owned by Second Lieutenant Percival Neeson, MC, 26 Battalion, AIF. Born in 1888, Percival Gorman Neeson was a languages teacher working in Grafton before he enlisted in the AIF in August 1915. Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 26th Infantry Battalion, he sailed for France on the troopship 'Commonwealth' (A73) with the 10th Reinforcements to the unit in March 1916. Neeson quickly became known to his men as 'Granny', due to his interest in their welfare, but was known to his fellow officers and superiors as 'Gordon'. Within four months of his departure from Australia, he was involved in the savage fighting at Pozieres, on the Somme, and on 29 July 1916 he was severely wounded in the head while attacking enemy positions. For his gallantry in this action he was recommended for the Military Cross (MC), but his wound was so serious that he was not initially expected to survive. Evacuated to the Duchess of Westminster's Hospital in Paris, and thence to England, suffering from partial paralysis of the right arm and hand, Neeson was operated on by the King's surgeon, who removed fragments of bone from his brain and inserted a silver plate into the hole in his skull. He made a full recovery in time to receive his award of the MC personally from the King on 4 November 1916. Despite his recovery, Neeson was not considered fit for further military service, and he was repatriated to Australia in 1917, returning to his pre war occupation. Known in later life (as he had been in the army) as Gordon Neeson, he died in 1958.