In the early Bedales records Percival is always entered as Philip; a mistake or did he dislike his first name? He had been born in Hyderabad in 1882, the elder child of his father’s second marriage. At the time of his son’s birth Robert William Edward Hampe-Vincent was fourth in seniority in the Hyderabad Police. He rose through the ranks and by 1895 was Commissioner of Police in Bombay, probably the senior posting in the whole of British India. His wife Maria Margaret née Deans-Campbell had herself been born in Bengal.
In 1891 Maria was living in Camberley with her younger step-son and two sons who were both at school. In the Autumn Term of 1894, aged 12, Percival was the 34th boy to enter Bedales in Sussex where he stayed to the end of the Summer Term 1897. He must have continued his education elsewhere because it was 1900 before he entered The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he was registered as “Gentleman Cadet” on census day 31st March 1901. The pull of India must have been strong and Percival was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant “Unattached List for the Indian Army” on 8th May 1901. Finally, on 6th November 1902, he was posted to India and, on 27th February 1903, became an officer in the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis.
Following the end of the Boer War in 1902 the Indian Army was the chief force in which ambitious young men could experience active service. Percival remained in India until 1903 when he saw service in East Africa as a Special Staff Officer attached to the 101st Grenadiers and then was employed in the Somaliland Campaign against the Dervish forces of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan. For one or both of these in March 1905 he was awarded the Africa Campaign Medal. He had been gazetted a full Lieutenant on 1st April 1904.
An obscure reference in the Indian Army List implies Percival had extended medical leave in England from 3rd September 1904. Presumably this gave him an opportunity to meet young women and in Portsmouth in the June Quarter of 1905 he married Blanche Hannington Robinson; her father was a Chief Paymaster in the Royal Navy. The recently formed King’s African Rifles was led by officers from the Indian Army and that was Percival’s major posting from 18th September 1905 to 27th September 1912. On 8th May 1910 he achieved the rank of Captain. He was back in India by October 1912 and commanded a double company of the 129th Baluchis in the Punjab. Sadly, his wife Blanche died at Kasauli in May 1914; they had no children.
Soon after the outbreak of War the regiment was despatched to France; unfortunately his medal card does not give the date of his arrival at the Front but it seems to have been sometime in October and almost immediately the Baluchis were involved in fierce fighting. One junior Indian officer and two NCOs were killed on 24th and 25th October but Percival was “one of the first Indian (Army) Officers to fall” leading his men to attack Prussian Cavalry. [Clutterbuck, Dooner & Denison, The Bond of Sacrifice vol 1 p 419.] He was killed in action on 26th October and has no known grave, being commemorated on Panel I of the Menin Gate. As he was in the Indian Army his records are not preserved in the National Archives at Kew so there is no record of the reporting of his death.