Percy Dransfield enlisted in August 1915, too late to see action at Gallipoli, but not too late to be part of the newly formed 40th Battalion, Tasmania’s own battalion which was raised early in 1916.
On 8 August 1916 Private Percy Dransfield embarked with the first reinforcements on the Ballarat sailing out of Hobart. After a couple of months in England at Larkhill fine tuning their skills, Percy and other reinforcements proceeded overseas to France on 23 November 1916. No sooner had he landed there than he was sent to hospital, sick, re-joining the battalion in time to see in the new year in billets at Armentieres.
Soon Percy would get a taste of what it was like at the front. The 40th Battalion at this time were detailed as working parties, carrying engineering material in to the trenches and improving the drainage. On 8th January 1917, while the battalion was in billets at Houplines, Private Percy Dransfield would get his first experience of being in a bombardment when their billets were subjected to a barrage causing several casualties.
His first experience of trench warfare would come later in the month at Bois Grenier. While he survived his initial experience without a scratch, he was wounded in action at Ploegsteert Wood sustaining a slight head wound. After being patched up in the field he re-joined his battalion. In October 1917 he was wounded again sustaining a concussion which required him to be evacuated to Rouen for treatment.
The 40th Battalion took part in the attack on the Hindenburg Line in September 1918. Private Dransfield was one of a section sent to drive the enemy back from making their way towards the 40th Battalion’s flank. Acting as a leading bayonet man and coming suddenly upon the enemy immediately attacked them, bayonetting two and driving the remainder before him. By his prompt and courageous actions he saved a critical situation. Private Percy Dransfield was awarded the Military Medal for his actions.
This would be the last action that the 40th Battalion were involved in. On 2 October the battalion moved into their bivouac at Ronssoy and then over the succeeding days moved westwards towards to Eronelle near Abbeville for a program of football and sports.
Private Percy Dransfield MM finally returned to Australia on 2 March 1919 along with his Scottish wife whom he had married whilst on leave. Unfortunately the marriage did not last and he later married Gladys, the mother of his two sons Stanley and Brian.