Percy Creely was a bushman, working in the Gisborne area, when he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade of the New Zealand Army in October, 1915. He was transferred to the Wellington Infantry Regiment in March, 1916, leaving Egypt with them for France.
It was not long after arriving in France that Percy received the wound which would eventually claim his life. He suffered a bullet wound to his head and was immediately evacuated, being reported as "dangerously ill" in hospital in England. By October of 1916 he was well anough to be repatriated in the Hospital Ship "Maheno."
It is possible that Percy's wound was the result of an artillery shell - his Battalion was out of the front line at the time - whatever the cause it was devastating.
Details of Percy's time when he returned to New Zealand can be found in a letter written to the Otago Daily Times by Brigadier-general McGavin, Directer-general of NZ Medical Services shortly after Percy's death:
"With reference to the case of Creely: on March 30, 1917 the late Colonel T. Hope Lewis recommended this man's treatment at Karitane. Dr Herbert sent this man to Karitane (as appears in a letter to the medical superintendent) in order that he should be controlled in a manner impossible at Rotorua. Creely was admitted to Seacliff on March 24, 1917, was formally committed on October 3, 1917, and died on October 28, 1919. He was suffering from traumatic epilepsy, the result of extensive wounds of the head, and died in Seacliff of his brain injuries."
Much to unpack, as they say, from the above, which was written to counter allegations of soldiers being interned at Seacliff without due process by the military authorities. His military record has him at Seacliff Hospital, and "dangerously ill," in June, 1917. It was at Seacliff that he was "found dead," the cause described as "Jacksonion epilepsy," which apparently refers to a localised rather than a generalised epileptic seizure. Whatever the ongoing effects before his death, it would seem he was too much to handle at the King George V Hospital at Rotorua.
NEW ZEALAND'S ROLL OF HONOUR.
CREELY.—Rifleman 24/1629 Percy Creely, 9th Reinforcements, 2nd Rifle Brigade, severely wounded in head by h.e. shell at Armentieres on the 2nd. June, 1916; operated upon in France; returned to New Zealand by Maheno on the 19th December, 1916, was paralysed as result of wound; and died from its effects on the 26th October, 1919, brother of H. J, Creely. Upper Hutt. Interment at Dunedin. -Evening Post, 1/11/1919.