PEARCY, Walter Ernest
(Service number 12/1485)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||4 May 1884||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||20 October 1914||Age||30 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Care of Briscoe, 18 Third Avenue, Kingsland, Auckland|
|Occupation||Quarry man (City Council)]|
|Previous Military Experience||6 years NZ Defence Forces. Time expired 13 June 1910.|
|Next of Kin||Cecil Orr PEARCY (brother), Grafton Road, Auckland|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 9 stone 12 lbs. Chest measurement 36-38½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair fair. Sight, hearing and colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||2nd Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Auckland Infantry Battalion|
|Date||14 December 1914|
|Transport||Verdala or Willochra or Knight of the Garter|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Auckland Infantry Battalion|
|Campaigns||Egypt; Balkans (Gallipoli)|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
26 May 1915 - wounded prior to returning to the firing-line
|Date||8 June 1915||Age||31 years|
|Place of Death||Quinn's Post, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Turkey|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey|
|New Zealand Memorials||Timaru War Memorial Wall|
Walter Ernest Pearcy was the oldest son of Walter and Sarah Ann (née Orr) Pearcy, of Timaru. Walter and Sarah married at Timaru on 10 September 1882. The father Walter was a billiard marker at Timaru, where all the children were born. He was employed at the Grosvenor Hotel in Timaru for some years and was the head waiter there in May 1890 when he received much credit for the way the table was laid out for a smoke concert. But for a few years he had been experiencing difficulties in meeting his debts, and in September 1890 Mrs W. Pearcy sold by auction in Timaru “The Whole of Her Very Superior Household Furniture and Effects”, which included a very superior perambulator, as she was leaving the district. The Timaru Court heard in November 1890 that Walter Pearcy had no assets and no proved creditor, although it was deemed that a man who was a hotelkeeper (at Sheffield) should be able to pay debts incurred as a billiard marker. Both parents died when their children were still young, Sarah at just 27 years in 1892 after a long illness at Sheffield where the family had moved to about 1890, being buried in the Waddington Cemetery; and Walter two years and one day after, in 1894, at the Wellington Hospital.
Walter Ernest Pearcy was born on 4 May 1884 at Timaru, the second of five children. The first-born, Ada Maud, died in 1883 at 3 months and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. Walter attended Waddington School when his father had the Sheffield Hotel, the Timaru Main School when his father returned to Timaru after his mother’s death, and a Wellington School from 1894. At the Waddington School annual treat and prize-giving on 1 January 1892, Walter and his sister Ethel were the recipients of prizes. The three oldest children (Walter, Ethel and Cecil) were moved about considerably in their childhood.
By August 1892 Walter senior was again in financial difficulties, by which time he was a widower with four children. He attributed his bankruptcy to loss of business, heavy rent, and the expenses associated with the long illness and death of his wife. He sold his buggy and horse, as well as the billiard table and appliances, to meet some of his debts. Perhaps this prompted Walter’s return to Timaru. Walter Pearcy, a hotel waiter, did not appear in the Timaru court to face a charge of failing to provide for his three children, aged 6, 8 and 10 years (Cecil, Ethel and Walter). They had been left in the charge of a Mr Findlay, on condition that the father paid for them. He had received only a small sum from Pearcy’s brother and could no longer afford to keep them. On the magistrate’s recommendation, the secretary to the Charitable Aid Board undertook to send the children to the father, now in Wellington. An order was also made for Pearcy to make a payment for each child until they reached the age of 14. The police were to receive them in Wellington for Pearcy. A message was sent, however, that he (Pearcy) could not be found; then that he was in the hospital, dying. The secretary of the Wellington Charitable aid Board stated that the children would be sent back and expenses charged to the father. On 6 March 1894 the three young Pearcy children returned to Timaru by the s.s. Brunner. Meanwhile their father had died in the hospital. They were placed in the barracks.
At the March 1894 meeting of the South Canterbury Hospital and Charitable Aid Board it was recorded that the “Piercy [sic] children had been well disposed of, two of them had been adopted, and the third had been boarded out at 2s a week, enough to provide clothing merely.” The late W. Pearcy’s brother wrote that he could not take his brother’s children nor could he contribute to their keep as he had a large family of his own. He had had for some time one of his brother’s children, a boy. This boy would appear to be the youngest, Alderwin, who was only two years old when his mother died and in 1894 still under five. In May 1895 a Mrs McKnight accepted £1 per quarter from the Timaru Hospital and Charitable Aid Board to keep and clothe the little boy Pearcy. This may well have been Cecil, the youngest of the three housed at Timaru. This family had by this time suffered a great deal.
Walter junior (Private) was living in Timaru in 1907, when he donated a prize for volunteering with the Timaru Port Guards, of which he was a member for about five years. As a member of the Orange Lodge in Timaru, he was involved in 1908 with providing financial assistance to a family in dire need. He was well known in the Order of Oddfellows, having been noble grand of his lodge. Walter was also a prominent footballer while he was living in the South Island. He was still in Timaru in 1911, where he was a labourer on the drainage works. He then lived in Christchurch for a few years before going to Auckland, where he was a quarryman in the employ of the Auckland City Council. Walter enlisted with the Auckland Infantry Battalion soon after war broke out, left New Zealand on 15 December 1914 and reached Egypt on 29 January 1915. He was single, of Church of England affiliation, and was in good physical and mental health. His teeth were good and he had been vaccinated. Of fair complexion, he had blue eyes and fair hair. He was one of about 400 who had left by special train on 20 October 1914 for the Trentham Camp. “As they stood in the Drill Hall the recruits looked a workmanlike body of men. . . . The physique of the men generally was good.” They marched from the Drill Hall to the station - “For the most part they marched well.” And there was cheering as the train drew out.
A Casualty List in early June 1915 reported Private W. E. Pearcy among the wounded. After recovering Walter had returned from Cairo to the firing line at the Dardanelles on 26 May 1915 and was shortly after reported to have been one of nine men killed in action on 8 June 1915 at the Dardanelles. He was actually killed at Quinn’s Post, aged 31 years. The frontline at Quinn’s Post was considered the most dangerous place at Gallipoli. Rough trenches and tunnels were built by the New Zealand and Australian troops into the steep hillside. On 4 June the Auckland and Canterbury battalions launched a raid on enemy trenches, and on 7 June the New Zealand Infantry took over from the Australians. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial at Anzac, Turkey.
Walter's next-of-kin at enlistment was his brother Cecil Orr Pearcy. Cecil and his wife had moved from Timaru to Auckland in March 1914. In 1917 Cecil had asked that the Public Trustee administer Walter's estate, which consisted of £21.5.7 in his P.O.S.B. account and 19s.8d of Military Pay. In 1920 there was the need to clarify family relationships before the medals and plaque would be issued. It seems that Walter's sister (Ethel) had died by this date. The 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, awarded to Private Walter Ernest Pearcy, and the plaque and scroll were duly sent to Mr C. O. Pearcy. The name “PEARCY W. E.” is inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall.
Walter’s youngest brother, Alderwin, was serving with the Canterbury Battalion, when Walter was killed. He had enlisted at the outbreak of war, naming his oldest brother Walter Ernest Pearcy as next-of-kin. He too had enlisted at the outbreak of war, naming his oldest brother Walter Ernest Pearcy as next-of-kin. Mrs C. (Catherine) Pearcy, the widow of their uncle, Harry Ernest Pearcy, subsequently filled that position. Cecil Orr Pearcy was listed on the Reserve Rolls, he being married with two children. Three cousins also served in World War I. In 1916 Mr and Mrs Briscoe, with whom Walter was residing when he enlisted, inserted an In Memoriam notice in the newspaper – “He did his duty.”
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [30 November 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0091455) [03 April 2014]; CWGC [30 November 2013]; Timaru Herald, 13 September 1882, 17 May 1890, 29 September 1890, 17 & 19 January 1891, 7 March 1894, 22 May 1895, 16 April 1907, 28 August 1908, 20 July 1915, South Canterbury Times, 20 November 1890, 12 January 1894, 20 February 1894, 20 March 1894, Press, 4 January 1892, 21 March 1892, 22 July 1893, 7 July 1915, Lyttelton Times, 4 January 1892, Star, 25 August 1892, 3 March 1894, 5 June 1915, New Zealand Mail, 23 March 1894, Auckland Star, 20 October 1914, 1 July 1915, 8 June 1916, Oamaru Mail, 5 June 1915, Poverty Bay Herald, 10 June 1915, New Zealand Herald, 3 July 1915, Dominion, 18 November 1915 (Papers Past) [30 November 2013; 18 & 19 May 2015; 06 April 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) ; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG & Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013; 18 May 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) ; Administration of Estate (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [09 May 2015]; Auckland Museum – Gallipoli timeline [07 April 2019]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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