Profile

PEARCY, Alderwin
(Service number 6/801)

Aliases Known sometimes as Alfred or Alf; enlisted as Alfred
First Rank Private Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 25 November 1889 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 17 August 1914 Age 24 years
Address at Enlistment 3 Acton Street, Christchurch
Occupation Compositor
Previous Military Experience NZ Volunteers - 3 years
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Walter Ernest PEARCY, Parramatta Road, Auckland; then Mrs C. PEARCY (aunt), 4 Berry Street, Saint Albans, Christchurch
Religion Anglican
Medical Information Height 5 feet 8½ inches. Weight 142 lbs. Chest measurement 31-35 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight & hearing both normal. Colour vision 'Yes'. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. Tattoo mark right forearm.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Tahiti or Athenic
Embarked From Lyttelton, Christchurch, Canterbury Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkans; Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date 12 February 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

20 August 1915 - wounded at Gallipoli; transferred to Mudros; admitted to Canadian Hospital, Taplow, Buckingshire; four months in hospital; "blood poisoning caused through his wounds, being shot once in the hand nad twice in the leg" (Alfred's own words). 8 June 1916 - wounded - contusion right arm; admitted to hospital. 4 June 1918 - admitted to hospital in France; not reported as Severe Case; 21 June admitted to hospital in UK. .

Post-war Occupations

Printer, compositor

Death

Date 29 September 1943 Age 53 years
Place of Death Tauranga
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Tauranga Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Alderwin Pearcy, also known as Alfred, was the youngest son of Walter and Sarah Ann (neé 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.

By August 1892 Walter senior was again in financial difficulties, by which time he was a widower with four children. The first-born, Ada Maud, died in 1883 at 3 months and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. 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.

Alderwin Pearcy was born on 25 November 1889 at Timaru, and baptised on 24 June 1890 at St Mary’s Church, Timaru. It appears that, following the death of his mother, Alderwin was taken into the care of his uncle and aunt, Harry Ernest and Catherine Pearcy, in Christchurch. He was first educated privately then in 1897 was enrolled at the Christchurch Normal School. Alderwin was a rugby player. He was chosen in the Single team for the Married v Single match played at Southbridge in April 1913. In the same year he was a committee member of the Southbridge Athletic Sports Club. He also turned out for the Little Rakaia cricket team, played in the Southbridge Tennis Club’s tournament and exchange (Men’s Doubles and Combined Doubles), and competed in the Southbridge Swimming Club’s sports, representing the Tennis Club in the 120 yards relay. At the swimming carnival held in March 1914, A. Pearcy was the honorary secretary as well as competing for the tennis club in the relay, their team finishing second. He was also into performing, being a member of the Black Diamond Troupe which was formed in 1913. The troupe quickly earned a good reputation and attracted a sell-out audience to their performance in aid of the Southbridge District High School library funds.

Alderwin enlisted as Alfred Pearcy at the outbreak of war, on 17 August 1914, aged 24 years. A compositor living in Christchurch, he was single, Anglican, and he had served with the Volunteers for three years. He was in good physical and mental health, although his teeth were only fair, and he carried a tattoo on his right forearm. He named his oldest brother Walter Ernest Pearcy of Auckland, as next-of-kin. After Walter was killed in action in 1915 at the Dardanelles, Mrs C. (Catherine) Pearcy of Christchurch, the widow of their uncle Harry Ernest Pearcy, filled that position. After his uncle died in 1904, Alderwin had remained with his aunt. Private A. Pearcy of A Company, 1st Canterbury Regiment was among the men who, having passed the doctor on 17 August, paraded at 1pm on the 18th, were uniformed and provided with a kit. Alfred Pearcy embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the Main Body on 16 October 1914 at Lyttelton, his destination Suez, Egypt, where he arrived on 3 December.

He was appointed cook on 20 February 1915. Having embarked for Gallipoli on 12 April 1915, he relinquished the appointment of cook on 7 June 1915. Wounded at Gallipoli on 20 August 1915, Private A. Pearcy was admitted to hospital and transferred to Mudros. In November 1915 it was reported that Pte. Alfred Pearcy, 6/801, from Gallipoli, had been admitted to the Canadian Hospital, Taplow, Buckinghamshire. He spent “four months in hospital in England with blood poisoning caused through his wounds, being shot once in the hand and twice in the leg. He was on the Peninsula four months previous to being wounded, and was in no less than five big ‘scraps’.” (Alfred’s own words). Like so many others, Alfred Pearcy was absent without leave - for three days in October 1915. For his misdemeanour he was confined to barracks for seven days and forfeited three days pay. It was March 1916 before he returned to duty in Egypt, before embarking for France on 6 April. On 7 August 1916 he was admitted to hospital, sick, and on 9 August 1916, a Lance-Corporal as from 10 June 1916, he was again admitted to hospital – he had been wounded on 8 June, contusion on right arm. He was admitted to hospital again sick, on 12 June 1917. Promoted to Corporal on 22 June 1917, he reverted to ranks (Sapper) at his own request on 26 October 1917. The Casualty List of June 1918 reported that his was not a severe case. This time he had sent to hospital in France on 1 June, sick, then admitted to the NZ No. 1General Hospital at Brockenhurst on 21June. On 12 October he was classified as unfit by the Medical Board and was to report to the Discharge Depot in England. Lance-Corporal A. Pearcy returned to New Zealand per Draft No. 201 in December 1918, one of a large number of invalided soldiers. A late member of the Sumner post office staff, he was scheduled to reach Lyttelton in mid December. As it was he embarked for the return journey on 8 November 1918 at Plymouth per the “Tofua”, and disembarked on 24 December at Port Chalmers. Alderwin (Alfred) had seen more than four years of service in the main theatres of war – Balkans, Egyptian, and Western European, for which he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was discharged on 12 February 1919, no longer physically fit for war service. It was in relation to communication about the will which Alfred had executed while on service with the NZ Expeditionary Force that the middle initial E appeared on documentation – Alfred E. Pearcy.

While abroad, Alderwin (Alfred) kept in regular contact with his friends and colleagues. Writing from “Somewhere in Egypt,” on March 25th [1916], Sapper A, Pearcy, who was at one time on the staff of this paper (Ellesmere Guardian) and enlisted with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, says in a letter to a Southbridge friend that be had only got his mail the night before writing—six months late. Alf wrote again to a Southbridge friend on 24 September 1916, this time from France – “Here I am, came away with the main body, have been wounded twice, and am still fit to go back into it again. Still I have not given up hope of getting back to the old land again. Perhaps when I go up this time I will be more lucky and “get one” that will send me home. There will be a lot of vacant chairs in New Zealand after this is all over, but I suppose we cannot complain. Better that than have ourselves dominated by Prussianism.” And in a letter dated 12 March 1917 to a member of the llesmere Guardian, he said that he was “still amongst the living” and expected to take part in the spring campaign, and he added that he was looking forward to visiting his old friends in this district if he was “lucky enough to get through this issue.” In a letter published in January 1918 he comments – “I met another Southbridge chap out here lately, . . . . He was attached to my company from the infantry during the last operations we took part in. I suppose you have heard all about it before this. You people in New Zealand seem to hear more about the war than we do who are right on the spot. We had a pretty rough time of it, taking things all round. The weather was bad and that made things ten times worse. You cannot imagine what the mud was like.” And to a friend in July 1918 – “We have had a fairly hard time of it the last month or so but things are not so bad now. I do not think the war can go on much longer. Fritz is beaten but the obstinate villain will not lie down.”

Alderwin was serving with the Canterbury Battalion, when his oldest brother Walter Ernest Pearcy was killed in action on 8 June 1915 at the Dardanelles. His brother Cecil was listed on the Reserve Rolls, he being married with two children. Three cousins also served in World War I. Alderwin married Georgina Carr Shore in 1919. Having resumed his employment with the Ellesmere Guardian, in November 1920 he suffered an injury to his hip, which necessitated a trip to hospital. He again engaged in local activities, albeit of a different nature. In July 1921 Alderwin was elected to a committee to arrange the annual “diggers’” ball to be held on 24 August. The proceeds were to be spent on comforts for the seven Ellesmere men in the military sanatorium at Cashmere. “To avoid crowding at supper time, it was decided to issue tickets of three different colours, each colour to represent one sitting. No one would know beforehand which colour would be called on first.” This turned out to be a “brilliant function in every way”. “The floor space was very heavily taxed throughout the evening, and there was not sufficient room to allow of all the couples present dancing at the same time.” In 1922 he was a signatory to a petition seeking to have Leeston constituted a town district. This was a controversial matter because of anomalies in the relevant Act. He was present at a social – dance and community singing – held by the Sumner Branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Association in September 1934. So successful was the event that it was decided to repeat the programme a week later. Both Mr and Mrs Pearcy were present at the October 1934 social. Just days later Alderwin was there at the Sumner sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Association annual dance held in the Town Hall. This was a most enjoyable evening for the members, the hall being decorated with colourful streamers and bowls of arum lilies, and orchestral music provided.

Alderwin, a printer and compositor, and Georgina returned to Canterbury after a spell in Feilding. They had moved to Camerons, Westland, when Alderwin was recorded as a war pensioner in his late 40s. Georgina (Kathy) died six months before Alderwin, who died at Tauranga on 29 September 1943, aged 53 years, They are buried in the Tauranga Anglican Cemetery.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [19 May 2015]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0091445) [20 May 2015]; Tauranga Anglican Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Cemetery records microfiche) [19 May 2015]; Timaru Herald, 13 September 1882, 17 May 1890, 29 September 1890, 17 & 19 January 1891, 7 March 1894, 22 May 1895, South Canterbury Times, 20 November 1890, 12 January 1894, 20 February 1894, 20 March 1894, Press, 21 March 1892, 22 July 1893, 28 August 1914, 21 August 1916, 11 December 1918, 19 September 1934, 20 & 24 October 1934, Star, 25 August 1892, 3 March 1894, New Zealand Mail, 23 March 1894, Ellesmere Guardian, 16 April 1913, 8 October 1913, 27 August 1913, & & 11 October 1913, 28 February 1914, 11 March 1914 [x 2], 14 March 1914, 10 May 1916, 18 November 1916, 30 May 1917, 19 January 1918, 19 July 1918, 17 November 1920, 30 July 1921, 27 August 1921, 4 February 1922, Star, 18 August 1914, 11 & 14 December 1918, Sun, 5 September 1914, 18 November 1915, Manawatu Times, 18 November 1915, Dominion, 18 November 1915, Ashburton Guardian, 18 November 1915, 19 August 1916, Colonist, 19 November 1915, 21 August 1916, Otago Daily Times, 21 August 1916, Evening Post, 15 June 1918, Nelson Evening Mail, 15 June 1918 (Papers Past) [30 November 2013; 18 & 19 May 2015; 06 & 07 April 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013; 19 May 2015]; School Admission Records (Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [2015]; Tauranga Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [08 January 2016]; Baptism record St Mary's Timaru (South Canterbury Branch NZSG records)

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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Not assigned.

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