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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