Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

George Pearce

George Pearce :

George Pearce : (L to R) Egypt Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal; Khedive's Star

(L to R) Egypt Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal; Khedive's Star

George was born in London in around 1847. His father was called Richard and his mother was Mary Ann. He had 5 older siblings; Georgiana, Sarah Ann, Isabel, Julia and Susan. He had a younger brother called Charles.

In 1851 Richard worked as a groom and his family lived in Bristol. Ten years later he was a member of the 'Master of the Horse Department on the Superannuation List'. We believe this means he had worked for the Royal Household, where the Master of the Horse was in charge of the Royal stables and carriages. A superannuation is a pension, which suggests he was retired.

George decided to join the Army and enlisted in the 96th Regiment of Foot. He was given the service number 772, which suggests that he enlisted in mid 1864.

At this time the Regiment was based in the Cape of Good Hope in what is now South Africa. Towards the end of 1866 they moved to India. The 96th was based in the Bombay Presidency in western and central India for around 2 years. They then moved north east to the Bengal Presidency area.

By October 1869 the 96th Regiment was stationed at the town of Dum Dum. They later moved to Calcutta (now called Kolkata). During 1871 they moved to Dinapore, now Danapur, in eastern India.

In March 1873 the 96th Regiment was linked with the 63rd Regiment of Foot. This was aimed at making the Army more effective and better able to sustain the strength of units serving overseas.

George returned to the UK with the rest of the 96th in late 1873. They were based in several different barracks in Britain over the next 7 years, including Warley and Colchester in Essex, and Aldershot in Hampshire.

In March 1881 the Regiment again left the UK for service overseas. They were sent to Malta. Here, on the 1st July 1881, the 63rd and 96th Regiments amalgamated to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Manchester Regiment. The 96th Regiment became the 2nd Battalion.

In August 1882 George went to war in Egypt. The Anglo-Egyptian War had broken out in June after the pro-British Khedive was deposed. Britain wanted to protect its commercial investments in Egypt, as well as the Suez Canal, which gave access to India.

The 2nd Battalion sailed to Alexandria aboard HMS Euphrates, and arrived on the 17th August. The war ended in September with the British restoring the Khedive to power, but having much more control over the country. The battalion left Egypt on the 13th October for Multan in what is now Pakistan, again aboard HMS Euphrates.

It would appear that George did not go with them. By January 1883 he had transferred to the 1st Battalion. This had also fought in Egypt, but then returned to the UK.

In late 1882 George's 18 years in the Army were recognised when he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He still held the rank of Private and we don't know if he was ever promoted.

Although we don't know when, George married a woman named Alice. They had at least 6 children. Charles was born in 1877 in Chester. James was born in 1879 and George in 1881, both in Aldershot, Hampshire. William Joseph was born in around 1883 in Warley, Essex. Albert Edward was born in 1887 in Aldershot and Arthur Dudley was born in 1893 in Limerick, Ireland.

George continued to serve with the 2nd Battalion, in Ireland until October 1894, then Preston in Lancashire for a year. They then returned to Aldershot.

We believe George died between 1896 and 1898. We don't know whether he had left the Army before he died.

In 1896 in Aldershot George gave a watch to a fellow soldier named Tom Steel. Tom would later show this watch to James and Albert at a Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association Reunion in 1929.

George must have died by the end of 1898 because Alice remarried between January and March 1899 to John Charles Onn, a Corporal in the Royal Engineers. By 1901 they had moved to Colchester in Essex. They would have at least one child, John Charles junior, on the 7th June 1901.

By 1911 Alice and John lived at 48 Lisle Road in Colchester, Essex. John died between October and December 1914. Alice continued to live here until she died aged 81 on the 11th April 1940.

Albert, Arthur, Charles, James and William all followed their father into the Manchester Regiment. We believe they all enlisted as Boys, aged around 14. Three of the brothers died on active service. Charles died on the 24th January 1901 in South Africa during the Boer War. William died on the 13th June 1916 in Mesopotamia, now called Iraq and Arthur died on the 23rd April 1917 during fighting near Arras in France.

James survived both wars and Albert lived through the First World War. They both went on to have long careers with the Regiment. James died on the 7th October 1948 and Albert on the 23rd December 1958. John Charles junior died in August 1996.

The medals of George and his 5 sons were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment on the 16th April 1960.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Army Museums Ogilby Trust logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council