Remembering
1914 - 2022

The Marston Lads

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Private

Samuel Pearson

Killed in Action
26th March 1917

Aged 19

7th Battalion
The Royal Welsh Fusiliers

27 Ollershaw Lane

Samuel Pearson was born in 1898 at Marston.


In 1911 Samuel was living at Ollershaw Lane with his mother Mary Ann, stepfather Joseph Newton, and his four younger siblings. His war records show that his natural father had died some year before.


In the 1911 census, the current marriage was eight years old, with Samuel being 13 years of age, his brother John aged 11 years, and both sharing the last name of Pearson. The other three children share the last name of Newton, the census also says '3 children born to this marriage'.


Samuel attested at Northwich with the 7th Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the 11th December 1915 and where he gave his age as exactly 19 years of age - he was NOT 19, he was 17 years old.


Samuel gave his occupation as a 'Holder Up' (someone that holds the hammer over the end of a red hot rivet which the Rivetter has inserted).


Samuel did volunteer for Military service, it wasn't until the following month, January 1916, the Military Service Act was passed. This imposed conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, but exempted the medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker. Was Samuel 'hedging his bets' and decided to volunteer rather than wait to be conscripted the following year?


Whatever the reason why he volunteered, following his training, Samuel was mobilized 15th May 1916 and embarked for Egypt as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) which was created in March 1916 out of the remnants of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), which had been evacuated from Gallipoli, and the Forces in Egypt, which was tasked with the protection of the frontiers and the Suez Canal.

 
 
 

To ensure the destruction of Ottoman forces in southern Palestine before they had a chance to withdraw, the British attempted a coup de main against the garrison in Gaza. A confused battle ensued on 26 March 1917 in which the EEF’s mounted arm attempted to envelop the town from the north and east while its infantry attacked from the south. Early morning sea fog, muddled command and control arrangements, inadequate reconnaissance, and poor infantry-artillery cooperation resulted in failure. First Gaza cost the EEF 3,967 casualties compared to losses of only 1,372 for the Ottomans.


It was this same day 26th March 1917, that Samuel was first wounded, and having visited the dressing station, Samuel returned to front line duty but was seriously wounded a second time. It was during the chaos that Samuel was firstly reported missing and later accepted as dead. His body was never recovered.


Samuel is Remembered with Honour at the Jerusalem Memorial, a long way from home. Samuel was awarded both the British War and Victory Medals in 1922.

On reflection, it's hard not to compare Samuel to a modern-day youth, whom at 17 years of age, had lost his father and then volunteered for the First World War fully aware of the carnage that was unfolding and hearing about the friends he had already lost. Arriving in Egypt some 2800 miles away. He was wounded, yet returned to the front line.

One extremely brave young man that Marston should be particularly proud of.

 
The Jerusalem Memorial Egypt
heal
Tony Hayes
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