Peter Seaden-Jones visited us at a drop-in session at Richmond Station. From a photograph of his grandfather, we have managed to piece together the key details of Ernest John Pilcher’s war story.
Ernest John Pilcher was born in Pietermaritzberg, Natal, South Africa in around 1881. According to the 1891 census, he appears to live in Chester as the 9 year old son of Frederick and Lucy Pilcher. He has a sister Edith and two brothers Archie and Arthur. His siblings are born in the U.K. but his father’s occupation as an Army Warrant Officer may explain Ernest’s birth in South Africa.
On the 26th of December 1907 at the age of 26 he married Florence Alltimes at the Balham Hill Ascension church in Streatham. Florence was 23 years old at the time of their wedding. His occupation is recorded as a grocer.
In the 1911 census Ernest and Florence were recorded as living at 23, Sussex street in Pimlico. He is listed as “Manager in the business of grocery stores”. Marjorie Edith their daughter was just 2 years old.
At the age of 34 years and 6 months he enlisted in the army on the 22nd of November 1915. By this time his attestation record shows that he and Florence have a second daughter Peggy Dorothy born on the 6th of July 1913. Their address is now 20, Bellenden Road, Camberwell and his occupation is recorded as a “Traveller”.
Although originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery he transferred to the Devon Regiment having the service number 58799.
On the 14th of January 1917 he transferred to 174th Labour Corps (number 104133) based in Woolwich. This may well be as a result of injury or illness as his medical grade is recorded as C1. This rating meant that he was not fit for active service only Garrison service at home camps. Ernest by now lived at Clapham Park Terrace, Lyham Road, Brixton.
After the war he must have moved away from London as he and Florence are listed on the electoral register of Southend on Sea and he is in the sweets and tobacco trade.In the latter part of his life he lived in Devon and passed away at the age of 94 while in Malta.
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Researched by Katy Douthwaite Cecil Christian Jervelund was born in 1891, the son of a Danish Merchant, Albert Neilson Jervelund, becoming a naturalised British citizen in 1889. Before joining the army, he worked as a Clerk at the local Iron and Steel Works. Charles, his elder brother was a regular Officer in the Yorkshire Regiment and served in India, South Africa and Bermuda. Cecil had been an Officer with the 4th Yorks since 1913 and went to France with them on 18th April 1915. On May 24th, at Hooge, the Germans launched a devastating gas attack, in which 30 Green Howards were killed in action, 70 were wounded and 98 were missing. The heavy toll included Cecil, who was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of gas. After recovering and returning to his unit, Cecil was promoted to Captain on 16th February 1916. He survived the War and appears again in October 1920 when he was once more made a Captain in the 4th Yorks Battalion after they reformed as part of the new Territorial Army. He married Marguerite D Mangin in Ripon, Yorks in 1918 and died in 1942 at Middlesbrough.
Information submitted by Mrs Audrey Grundy. Joseph Whitell Bainbridge was born in 1896, his family ran Bainbridge’s Drapers Shop in Richmond Marketplace. Which occupied the building where Penley’s stands today. He was a territorial solider with the 4th battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment prior to the outbreak of the First World War and appears to have rejoined as a volunteer with the same battalion after the conflict started. Joseph arrived in France with the 4th battalion on 18 April 1915. His territorial regimental number (2370) was later revised to 200533. His war service led to the award of the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal. Joseph’s older brother, Thomas Lawrence Bainbridge (also of the Yorkshire Regiment) was killed during the Battle of Arras on 23 April 1917. He had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.
Matthew Bell was born in West Scrafton, Coverdale on 21 October 1895. He served with the Yorkshire Regiment, initially joining before the war with the 4th Territorial Battalion, probably around 1912 according to his regimental number (3899). He later served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (235593) before returning to the Yorkshire Regiment later in the war. He went to France on the last day of September 1915 and survived the war, being awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service. Matthew died aged only 40. Two of his children are still alive and living in Leyburn but they don’t remember him. His youngest child was born posthumously which must have been very hard for his widow.