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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 7544
1st Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Who died on 12th March 1915
Aged 40

No Known Grave
Panel 26 & 27
Le Touret Memorial, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Le Touret Memorial

Le Touret Memorial1

Richard Robert Pearce was born in St Mary's Parish, Nottingham in 18752, the son of William & Charlotte (née Henson) Pearce3. William worked as a plumber and, by 1881, was living with his family, including Robert and his two older sisters, Sarah & Maria, in Deptford, London4. Soon after this, William died and the family returned to Nottinghamshire, where Charlotte married William Porter and Richard began work in his late father's trade, as a plumber.

In May 1898, however, Richard enlisted with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was posted to India where he qualified as a mounted infantryman in 1904 in Bangalore5. By that time, his mother was living with her husband and family at 22 Thyra Grove, Beeston.

After eight years active service with the Colours, Richard entered the reserve and resumed his trade as a plumber. In 1908, he married Maria Beatrice Dykes6 and, by 1911 they were living at 41 Ilkeston Road, Nottingham with two daughters, Sarah Gertrude and Charlotte7.

By the time that War was declared, Richard & Maria had moved with their family - which now included a son, Ralph William, born in February 1914 - to live at 8 Derby Street, Beeston.

On 26 September 1914, Richard enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), at Nottingham and, as an already fully trained soldier, was posted to France with the 1st Battalion on 11 December 1914. After a miserable three months in the trenches, the Battalion took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the first large-scale attack by the British Army in the war. As part of IV Corps, under the command of General Sir Henry Rawlinson8, their advance followed a 35-minute bombardment of the front line and a further 30 minutes of the village and reserve positions. Notwithstanding the extreme intensity of these bombardments, much of the infantry attacks became bogged down and little overall progress was made. With the enemy able to re-inforce its defences, further attempts to break through had to be abandoned. Military chiefs were later to blame shortage of shells which led to a drive for increased production facilities that were quickly set up - such as those at Chilwell. Casualties had been heavy on both sides with the British losses being 544 officers and 11,109 other ranks, killed, wounded or missing and similar numbers on the German side.

Private Pearce was one of that tragic number, at first reported as missing and eventually declared killed in action. His body was never identified. Having no known grave, his name was inscribed on the panels of the "Memorial to the Missing" in the Le Touret Military Cemetery, together with other casualties from the Notts & Derby Regiment, including two others from Beeston, Privates Cyril Arthur Turton and Wilfred Frank Booth.

By the end of the war, his widow and their three children had moved to 54 Redoubt Street, Old Radford, Nottingham9. They were awarded a War Gratuity of 3 and an on-going pension of 20/6d (just over 1) per week. Maria appears not to have remarried and managed to bring up her three children to go on marry, have children of their own and live out their lives in Nottingham.

1The photograph of Le Touret Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1875 (Ref 7b 333)
3William & Charlotte married at St Marys Church, Nottingham on 4 December 1870.
4At 23 Faulkner Street (1881 Census : Piece 710 Folio 104)
5Details of his Army service are from Army Pension and Army Service records on ancestry.com
6Richard and Maria married at Nottingham Register Office on 15 February 1908
71911 Census - Piece 20496, RD430, SD1 ED6 Schedule 338.
8As he was to become. At the time of the Battle of Neuve Chappelle he was a temporary Lieutenant-General. He was Knighted in 1917 and raised to the Peerage in 1919. IV Corps was part of Sir Douglas Haig's First Army.

9This is the address given for her on Richard's entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
5Details of these awards are from Army Pension, Army Service and Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects records on ancestry.com

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