Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A fisherman’s only son: Private Herbert Victor Pearcey, 19 Aug 1915

Local fishermen at Budleigh Salterton station on their way to serve in the Royal Navy. L-r: Walter Mears, Harry Rogers, William Sedgemore, Tom Sedgemore, Charlie Pearcey, Frank Mears, Jack Pearcey, and William Pearcey
The photograph was taken on 4 August 1914 by G Blackburn.
The caption on the photo reads:  'The Salterton lads off to lend a helping hand'

As noted elsewhere on this blog, many young men in the Budleigh area from families associated with fishing joined the Royal Navy during World War One.  


A porbeagle or bottlenose shark, caught in 1904 by Budleigh man Walter Marker. George Pearcey is on the far right, behind the girl

One exception was Herbert Victor Pearcey, killed in action on 19 August 2015. His father George was a well known Budleigh fisherman, and appears in the above 1904 photograph.  

 Herbert, a member of the town’s Football Club was brought up in Cliff Road before the family, including his mother Melina (née Melina Trout) and his grandmother Sarah Miller, moved to ‘Fernley’ in Victoria Place.


For those local men who did not join the Royal Navy the obvious alternative was the Devonshire Regiment. Many, including Herbert, found themselves in the Devonshire Regiment’s 8th Battalion, formed by the Regiment as its first service battalion to provide combat service and vital logistical support to its brigade group. 


British troops arriving at Le Havre
Image credit Imperial War Museum Q_051128

On 26 July 1915, the two Devonshire 8th and 9th service battalions landed at Le Havre, joining the 20th Brigade on 4 August as part of the British Army’s 7th Division.  

The following month, the Devonshire Regiment’s 8th (Service) Battalion would suffer appalling losses during the Battle of Loos, with casualties of 21officers and 580 other ranks.   

Brown’s Road  Military Cemetery
Image credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Herbert was killed aged 19, less than a month after arriving in France.  He is buried at Brown’s Road  Military Cemetery in the village of Festubert, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. His name appears on Budleigh Salterton’s War Memorial and on the brass plaque in the town’s St Peter’s Church. 

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 

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