We do not have to become heroes overnight.
Just a step at a time,
meeting each thing that comes up,
discovering we have the strength
to stare it down.
From babes in arms we dream of a hero, the soul of all souls who will make everything different, who will shine brighter than all others, who’s heart is full, who’s strength is unbreakable.
We may meet many through out our life’s, from our very own mother or father, to the person who donated the pint of blood, that saved yours or your loved ones life, even the stranger who picked you up when you fall, or the love of your life who stood beside you, through the darkest of days.
Heroes come in many shapes and sizes, friends, family or strangers, they change our life’s for the better, asking nothing in return.
Let me tell you about one of our heroes, my 3rd Great Uncle, Harry Pearce.
Harry Pearce, was born on 15 May 1874, in West Wellow, Hampshire, to William Pearce and Mary Ann Pointer.
Harry’s father William was working as a Shoe Maker. 👞
Harry’s mother Mary Ann, registered his birth on the 12th June 1874, which she signed with an X.
Harry’s Mother, Mary Ann gave birth to William Pearce, between the months of July and September 1877, in the Romsey district.
On the 3rd April 1881, the England and Wales census was taken, which finds Harry residing at West Wellow, Hampshire, with his parents, William and Mary Ann and two of his siblings, John and William Pearce.
They have two visitors staying with them at the time, James and John Everett.
The census doesn’t give an address as such, it just listed the properties in the sub district.
Their neighbours were William Biddlecombe, his wife Ann and their children, Frank, Alfred, William and Alice.
William was working a a Shoe Maker
On the 5th October 1882, the Pearce’s, welcomed a new addition to the family. Mary Ann gave birth to Ernest William Pearce in the Romsey district. The census’s give his birth location as West Wellow.
The next census, which was taken on the 5th April 1891, shows Harry, William, Mary Ann, William and Ernest, living in the village of West Wellow, Romsey Road, Lower Green.
Harry was working as a Agricultural Farm Servant, his father William was a shoe maker, and William was a Shepherds Boy.
Their neighbours were, William Newman Petty, his wife Elisabeth Duell Petty and their children, Albert Hurst Petty, Charles Leonard Petty, Elisabeth May Petty, Clara Mary Petty, Gertrude Kate Petty and Phillip Newman Petty.
Over the next few years, life must have been treating Harry well, as he fall in Love with his future wife.
Harry Pearce married Edith Elizabeth Martin, daughter of James Martin and Harriet Tutt, on the 25th July 1896 at St. Leonards, Sherfield English, Hampshire, England.
Harry was listed as a bachelor and Edith as a spinster. Their ages were both given a 22.
Harry profession was listed as a Labourer.
Harry was residing in Wellow, Hampshire, and Edith was residing at Sherfield English, Hampshire, England.
Both their fathers, William and James were working as, Labourers.
The witnesses to their marriage were W Pearce and Ellen Martin, Edith’s sister.
On the 31st December 1896, Edith Elizabeth, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Harry and Edith Elizabeth, named her Ellen Louisa Pearce.
Ellen was born at Melchet, West Wellow, Hampshire, England.
Harry was working as a General Labourer, possibly at, Melchet Court. Rumour has it, that Harry and Edith Elizabeth, met while both working there.
Edith Elizabeth, registered Ellen birth on the 3rd February 1897.
Between the months of December 1896 and December 1897, Harry, Edith Elizabeth and Ellen moved from Melchet, West Wellow to 20 Howards Grove, Shirley, Southampton, Hampshire, England, as on the 3rd January 1989, Edith Elizabeth, gave birth to their second daughter, Dorothy Hilda Pearce. She was born at, 95 Pound Street, Shirley, Southampton.
Harry was working as a General Labourer.
He registered Dorothy’s birth on the 12th February 1893.
The 1901 census shows the growing Pearce family living at 3 Crab Wood Cottage, Millbrook, Southampton, Hampshire.
Charles Dunn was lodging with them.
Harry was working as a Bricklayer Labourer.
Their neighbours were, George Stevens, his wife Mary Stevens and their sons, George Stevens and Louisa Stevens. Also, Francis Hallett, his wife Elizabeth Hallett and their son, Harold V Hallett.
By 1904, Harry and his family had moved back to his roots and were once again living in West Wellow, Hampshire.
On the 11th May 1904, Edith Elizabeth gave birth to a third daughter, Edith Florence Pearce at West Wellow.
Edith Elizabeth, registered Edith Florence’s birth on the 14th June 1904.
Harry was working as a General Labourer.
On the 24th June 1907, the Pearce clan welcomed another new member to their family. Edith Elizabeth gave birth to, Kathleen Ada Peace, at West Wellow, Hampshire.
Edith Elizabeth registered her birth on the 7th August 1907.
Harry was still working as a General Labourer.
The 1911 census shows Harry, Edith Elizabeth, Ellen, Edith, Kathleen and Dorothy residing at Lower Green, West Wellow, Hampshire.
Harry and Edith Elizabeth had been married 15 years, they have had four children, whom are all living.
The family were occupying 3 rooms.
Harry was working as a Bricky (his words by his own hand).
Harry’s handwriting is exceptional, I wish I could write like that.
Harry, lost his mum Mary Ann Pearce nee Pointer, on the 28th March 1907. She died at West Wellow, Hampshire. Mary Ann died from, Influenza Bronchitis Gastritis. Sarah E Russell, registered her death on the 30th March 1907. She was also present at Mary Ann’s death.
Little did the family know, a storm was brewing, which would turn their lives, upside down, inside out and change everything. Their futures were in the hands of the Germans. The Great War, the War to End All Wars, was upon them. Devastatingly it caught all our ancestors in it clasp, changing not just the lives of the poor soldiers, who put theirselves forward to fight the good fight, it changed the world, the futures of the souls left behind in grief and the minds of the soldiers who somehow survived.
Our Harry, did what every able, good man could and signed up, not knowing the horrors that laid in front of him. He joined the 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, which gained him the label, Private Harry Pearce. Harry kissed his wife and children good bye and set off to war.
The 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment was raised at Portsmouth, Hampshire, on the 3rd of September 1914 by the Mayor and a local Committee. After the initial training close to home, the battalion was adopted by the War Office on the 30th of May 1915. In October they moved to Witley, to join the, 116th Brigade, 39th Division.
They proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre, France, on the 6th of March 1916. The division concentrating near Blaringhem.
On the 30th June 1916, they were in action in an attack near Richebourg l’Avoue, with the Sussex battalions and were in action during the Battles of the Somme, including, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights and the capture of Schwaben Reddoubt and Stuff Trench as well as The Battle of the Ancre.
On the 3rd Mar 1916, the 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment were part of the 116th Brigade and attacked the German defences at Beaumomt-Hamel.
Beaumont-Hamel is a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.
Beaumont-Hamel was close to the front line, near many attacks, especially during the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest allied offensives of the war.
Harry was among the British heroes, who advanced across a 25-mile front and fired 1,738,000 shells at the Germans, giving their all for their country. 🇬🇧
By the end of the battle of the Somme, in November 1916, the British had lost 420,000 heroes, including our very own Private Harry Pearce, who was killed in action on the 3rd September 1916. 💔
Harry was laid to rest in the Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel.
Harry was buried in Plot 4, Row B Grave 58. Headstone number 985.
His headstone was Embellished with a cross.
Harry was awarded the Victory Medal and or The British War Medal. (If you know any more information or who they were left to, I would love to to be able to tell Val, my dear friend, and great grand-daughter to Harry, a little more about them)
War is a very cruel game, one I will never understand. It leaves behind so much heart ache, pain, loss and mental scars, that no one can ever really come back from. We will never fully understand how horrific it would have been for the brave men, who spent days and nights on end, in those trenches. It must have been like living in a nightmare. I’m extremely proud of every soul that gave their lives, to give us a future and to all those who survived and had to live with the horrors playing over and over in their minds.
They are all true heroes.
Heroes whom should never be forgotten!!!
A month ago or so, I had a message from a lady called Val, who thought we were related through the Pearce line of our family trees.
Her Great-Grandfather Harry Pearce, aka Private Harry Pearce, was brother to my 2nd Great-Grandmother Fanny Pearce, not only through them but also through the Roud/e side of our trees. It’s a small world, thats for sure, the more I seem to search, the more connections between us I find.
Any way to cut a long story short, Val and I have become great friends, we chat nearly every day, we’ve helped each other out with our history, filling in some blanks and seeing the wonderful faces of our shared ancestors. It has been a wonderful experience and I’m forever indebted to her for her kindness.
So when I decided to write about the heroic life of Harry, I just had to ask Val about any memories she has of Harry’s family and the memories they had shared with her. She open heartily excepted and within a short while, I had a very touching, heart felt message in my inbox, which she has kindly agreed for me to share with you.
Evening Georgina, as you can imagine I don’t really know too much about Harry. I didn’t grow up in my family but I spent brief periods with them. When I was living at my foster parents in Chambers Avenue, I remember visiting my nan Ellen Pearce, Harry’s daughter at Nightingale Close, Romsey. When I was at the junior school at the school by the plaza, I used to skip off down to Linden Court, as nan moved into a bed sit there. This was when I developed an awareness that she was my nan, my blood family. Nan would natter away non-stop which I think were her nerves. She would make me a cup of tea and rye-vita, with butter on them. On leaving she would get her purse out and say “Would you like some coppers?” She was so sweet. When I lived at Sherfield English I would catch the bus to work in Romsey each day. I worked in Boots the chemist then moved further along to the florist shop. I would go into nan every day and she would put me up a dinner. Still nattering away non stop. So amongst her nattering she would talk about her father Harry Pearce but as I was only 17 then and I didn’t take a lot of her nattering in. I did take in though when she said “I loved my dad” with tears in her eyes. She said he was killed in the First World War. I sensed that she had so much love for him. She mentioned her mother suffered severe stomach pains but she did not seem to of been too close to her as she said she did not really like her mother. All of these years Harry Pearce has been in my mind and I have always felt a closeness to him even though he passed away in 1916 serving his country. He actually volunteered to go to war and was only in his 40’s. So sad, it must of devastated Nan. I have two photos of Harry,one as a boy and one as a young man. He had a very kind warm face. A few years back I got interested in Ancestry and found him on the census. He lived in West Wellow and was a shepherd boy and became a bricklayer. I was told by a family member that he helped bricklayer the Strongs of Romsey Chimmney stack.
It’s always it is so lovely to be able to hear the family memories that other people hold dear, it brings the names listed on paper, trees, census’s and dusty documents, to life. They are no longer a name, facts and figures, they are real.
Some may be a lot more interesting than others, some may pull tightly on your heart strings, some you may even dislike, but still they are your blood, your family, they are part of you and with-out them, we wouldn’t be here, living the lives we do. That’s one reason why Harry’s life is so important. Harry faced the darkest of nights, filled with pain, suffering, screams of the injuried, the smell of blood and death.
He did all that, for us. I for one will never forget the sacrifice, Harry and his family made for all our futures.
Lest we Forget!
1874 – 1916
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.