Private William Harry Pearce


William Harry Pearce was born on 31 December 1898 in Kingswinford, Staffordshire, the first of two children of coal miner William Robert Pearce and his wife Elizabeth Jane (née Maggs). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 89 Hill Street, Kingswinford, with his parents, sister and an uncle.

Pearce enlisted or was called-up to the army around 1916. He was probably posted to the Derbyshire Yeomanry (most likely the 2/1st Regiment, a cyclist unit based in the Canterbury area).

He remained with this regiment in the UK until 12 September 1918, when he and 55 other men of the regiment were compulsorily transferred to the Corps of Hussars (No.81264) and posted to the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, which was then serving in France as corps cyclist regiment to V Corps. They embarked at Folkestone for Boulogne that day, joining the regiment in the field six days later. Pearce was probably assigned to E Squadron.

Pearce was wounded later that month or in early October 1918 during the Advance to Victory offensive, probably on 3 October, when E Squadron was camped east of Epehy, near the German defences on the St Quentin Canal. The squadron war diary recorded:

[1-2 October] Attached 100th Inf Brdge 33rd Division. Sent out a patrol under 2/Lt Downey to reconnoitre Canal de St Quentin ... preparatory to small raiding operations on following night which however never took place.

[3 October] 15 ORs Gassed by gas shelling. Sqdn moved forward to Battn H.Q. owing to report that enemy were retiring. This did not prove to be the case, so Sqdn moved back to previous location and were engaged in afternoon on salvage work.

On 5 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.