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2nd Lieutenant Geoffrey Vincent Pearce


(Royal) Berkshire Memorial Panel 2 and 3

2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 22nd Infantry Brigade, 7th Division

Age 25

KIA 18.12.14

The son of Sir William Pearce, Liberal MP for Tower hamlets from 1906 to 1918 and for Limehouse from 1918 to 1922. He married Ethel Alexandra in 1885 and they had a son and four daughters. Sir William was a chemical manufacturer and was a director of Spencer, Chapman, and Messel Ltd located in Silvertown. He was Vice-President of the Federation of British Industries and a Fellow of the Chemical Society. He was also the first Treasurer of the Association of British Chemical Manufacturers established in October 1916 which was to encourage cooperation in the industry to counter the German co-ordination in the sector. He was knighted in 1915

 

Early Life

Geoffrey was born on 19 June 1889 in Brentwood , Essex. He was educated at Uppingham School and he also studied in Germany. On leaving school he went into the family chemical company of W. Pearce & co. Ltd in East London. He joined the Artists Rifles in 1911. This was a popular volunteer unit and one of 26 volunteer battalions in the London and Middlesex areas that combined to form the new London Regiment. It became the 28th (County of London) Battalion on 1 April 1908. The Artists Rifles particularly attracted recruits from public schools and universities and recruitment was restricted in 1914 to recommendations from existing members of the battalion. A number of members were selected to be officers in other battalions of the 7th Division. William was selected and joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in November 1914.

 

His Death

Although not killed in the Ypres Salient the monument on which his name is listed in within the Salient and this is why he is included here. The Battalion was in the trenches near Fleurbaix south of Armentieres. On the 18 December the battalion was ordered to advance to attack and take the German trenches at Le Maisnil. The attack opened at 4.30pm with a supporting barrage with the Warwicks receiving supporting fire from the battalions on their left and right. It was a one battalion attack involving the Warwicks. They immediately met heavy German rifle and machine gun fire and suffered very heavy casualties, over 300 dead, wounded and missing, with attack stalling and then failing to achieve any of its objective. Although a few of the Warwicks did manage to reach to German front line trench but were killed.


Linesman map. this is a modern map showing the area of the action

On the 19 December parties of Germans were seen to leave their trench to examine the dead and wounded of the Warwicks. An informal armistice then began. Parties then went out from the Warwicks to bury the officers and collect the discs from the dead with others engaged in carrying the wounded into the German lines and not being made prisoners. The armistice was then terminated when Lt Bower of the South Staffords was killed helping to collect the wounded. Geoffrey’s body was not found among the dead and wounded and he was officially listed as ‘missing’ and his grave was subsequently lost. He is listed on the (Royal) Berks Memorial also known as the Ploegsteert Memorial.


War Diary recording details of the armistice on 19 December

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