It is with deep sadness that we report that Percy Aplin, of Rowdell's Orchard, died on Sunday 6th April 2008 just short of his 94th birthday.
Born a Devonian, and a true countryman, Percy came to live in Seavington relatively recently. Born in Ashburton in April 1914, on leaving school, Percy went into service with the Whitley family in Buckland-in-the-Moor. His interest in the countryside was kindled by mingling with and shadowing the estate's keepers until he was transferred to this function on the estate.
A member of the Territorial Army, in the 5th Devons, he was mobilised when war broke out. Percy's Battalion was tasked with home defence and he spent much of the initial years of the war in the Home Counties and along the South Coast with the aim of deterring any possible German Invasion. Prior to the D-Day landings, 5th Devons were re-roled to act as an air-landing unit which would operate with gliders.
After some air-landing training and practice exercises, Percy found himself, on the night of the 5th/6th June 1944, flying across the Channel in a Horsa glider with about 100 of his colleagues. He was participating in the Airborne Landings on D-Day when the objectives were the bridges over the rivers and canals in the area of Caen. His glider landed in a cornfield near what is now known as Pegasus Bridge. He was in action with the enemy almost immediately, although it did not take long before they surrendered. Percy's unit met up with the rest of his Battalion which had sailed across the Channel, but they were heavily counter-attacked by the Germans and one company (100 men) of the Battalion were almost wiped out.
A few months later, Percy was leading his section over rough ground when some Germans opened fire on them One of his colleagues was hit and was seriously wounded. Without any consideration for his own safety, Percy scrambled down to a brook and brought some water back to his colleague in his helmet. After making his colleague as comfortable as possible, Percy rejoined his section which had proceeded on their way. At teatime, when they were resting, Percy and one other, again with no consideration for their own safety, returned to their wounded comrade with a stretcher. They managed to recover him, and the wounded soldier was taken off to a Field Hospital where, later, he sadly died. A short time afterwards, Percy was told by his commanding officer that he had been awarded the Military Medal (MM) for his courage and bravery in dealing with his wounded comrade.
Percy's Battalion then returned to England, only to be sent out again to take part in the operations for the crossing of the Rhine. Unfortunately, Percy was wounded by a bullet which hit the back of his leg. This was the last action in the war that Percy would see as he then returned to England. He rejoined his unit when they returned to Bulford at the end of hostilities.
Returning from his war service, Percy was welcomed back to the Whitley estate and, in 1948, married Vera. After a short spell working in Cornwall, the couple moved to Broadhembury before moving to the Dillington estate where Percy was keeper for over 40 years, living at Keeper's Cottage, Boxstone. Retiring at 68, Percy retained his country interests and, finally, five years ago, he and Vera moved to Seavington.
Long and unsocial hours as a keeper precluded many hobbies but he was a keen gardener and for some years was a member of the successful darts team at the Dinnington Docks. In Seavington he was a well-known figure, always willing to chat about his beloved countryside and to offer advice on gardening and the wildlife habitat to those who sought it.
Percy leaves his wife, Vera, son Gordon and daughter Margaret, together with his grandchildren and great-grand children to whom we offer our sincere condolences.