Fireman Harry Perkins of Newport Fire Brigade passed away on 29 October 1939 aged 61.
Little is known of Harry's young life. He was born on 18 December 1878 but no evidence has been unearthed to indicate where, who his parents were or where he was raised.
What is known is that he joined Newport's brigade sometime prior to the outbreak of the First World War.
In January 1912 he also joined the Isle of Wight Rifles and by the time war broke out he was serving as Lance Corporal Perkins 8/1096. Accordingly he was one of the Island soldiers, six of whom were Newport firemen, that shipped out to Gallipoli with B Company of the Hampshire Regiment.
Harry was present during the assault on Sulva Bay in early to mid August 1915 and was badly injured in the process. He took one round to the head, another through an arm but didn't fall until shrapnel shredded his legs. The County Press reported in October 1915 that; Owing to the heavy fighting it was some hours before assistance could reach him and he crawled to the best shelter he could find and pluckily rendered first aid to himself until the ambulance workers could get to him.
Sergeant E.F. Barnes of 3 Caesars Road, Newport, was to write home of the events that day - On Thursday the 12th we advanced about 4 o'clock just as tea was being carried up to us, and we had to leave the tea and get to business. We had to advance across a plain, the Turks having splendid positions on the hills to our front and left and guns on our right. They met us with a perfect hail of bullets and shrapnel, and the wonder is how any man lived through it. After dark "Nigger" Perkins (Lc.-Corpl.H. Perkins, of Newport) asked to be carried back, as he was wounded in three places, but we had to leave him under a tree until a stretcher came, as he was suffering much pain.... I could not keep the tears from my eyes when I found how many killed, wounded, and missing we had.
Eventually the brave stretcher bearers endured tenacious machine gun fire to reach and retrieve Harry after an incredible period of self-survival exceeding 36 hours. But his trial was far from over.
Harry was placed aboard a hospital ship and given the seriousness of his injuries plans were made to carry out surgery on his tattered legs until fire caught hold of the vessel and all aboard were desperately transferred to another ship that came to their aid.
Eventually he arrived at one of the several military hospitals established in Manchester where he received a parcel of smoking materials and a shaving outfit from his friends of Newport Fire Brigade. He wote to them in late September; I am sorry to tell you that my Fire Brigade work is finished, as, after all the care, kindness, and the best of treatment, there is only one thing to save my life, and that is to have my leg off. I stood for my country in her hour of need, and I hope and trust, if I recover from my illness, that my country will stand by me.