Charles Frederick William Pearce was born on the 15th August 1890 at Rye House, Hoddesdon and was baptised on the 9th November 1890 at Woburn.
His father, William Pearce, married his mother, Ellen Game in 1889 at Ware and they had five children of whom Charles was the eldest. His siblings were Mabel Rosina born 1892 at Great Marlow, Edward James born in 1893 and died in 1894 at Great Marlow, Sidney Ernest born in 1895 at Great Marlow and Alice Maud born in 1899 at Aldbourne, Wiltshire.
In the 1891 census William was living alone at Church Passages, Dean Street, Great Marlow and is employed as a Coal Merchant, Charles and his mother were visiting her father and her siblings at West Museley, Ware.
During the 1901 census Charles was visiting his paternal grandparents at the Townley Arms, Pearce Lane, Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire. His parents were at home at 46, Wellfield Road, Streatham, Wandsworth with Mabel, Sidney and Alice. His father was now employed as a Furnishers Labourer.
At the time of the 1911 census it is believed that both parents had died, and the family had split up and were all living separately. Charles had joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
His full Army Service Record has not survived but a transcript of his Army Service Attestation Record from the Surrey Recruitment Registers reveals the following:
He was Attested on the 7th February 1911 at Kingston On Thames into the Royal Field Artillery. He gave his age as 19 Years 5 Months and his birth year as 1892 (in reality he was 21 years 5 months old), his place of birth as Rye House, Hertfordshire, his occupation as a Butcher employed by a Frank Parker of 33, Eden Street, Kingston On Thames. His description was recorded as: height 5 feet 9 ½ inches, chest 36 inches, expansion 4 inches, weight 138lbs, eyes hazel, complexion fresh and hair fair.
In the 1911 census Charles is listed as a Gunner in the 1st Battery, Royal Field Artillery living at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich Common, Woolwich.
He signed up for short service of three years in the colours and nine in the Reserve and he was transferred as a Gunner from the 6th Battery, Royal Field Artillery to the Reserve on the 6th February 1914. On leaving the Army he immediately applied to join the Police.
Charles’ Form 3 Police Service Record has survived and shows the following:
On the 26th February Charles was medically examined to determine whether he was fit for Police duties. The Police Surgeon issued this Certificate: I hereby certify that I have examined the above candidate as to his health and bodily strength and consider him fit for the Constabulary of this County. (signed) Lovell Drage Surgeon.
Charles was Appointed on the 9th March 1914 as Police Constable 29. The following was recorded: He stated his age on joining was 23 7/12 years, his place and date of birth were Rye House, Hoddesdon on the 15th August 1890. His description was: height 5 feet 10 ½ inches, chest 38 inches, complexion fresh, eyes hazel, hair fair and distinguishing marks consisted of a tattoo of a man’s head on his right forearm.
He also stated his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his sister, Miss Mabel Rosina Pearce of ‘Machora’, South Borough Road, Surbiton. He had previously been employed as a butcher and his last employment had been in the Army at Bulford Camp. He also said he could ride a bicycle and could swim.
Charles undertook his Probationary Training at ‘R’ Division at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. He was Attested before Frederic W. Anson J.P. and R. Cecil Peake. J.P. at St. Albans on the 20th June 1914 but remained at Headquarters.
Rates of Pay.
Charles received the following rates of pay throughout his service. The General Orders were published announcing both his and every other Officers rises when they occurred.
Rank Rate of Pay Date of Increase
PC £1/4/6 09/03/1914
PC £2/7/- 30/01/1919
PC £2/8/- 09/03/1919 General Order 131 of 7th June 1919
PC NSP £4/-/- 01/04/1919
PC £4/2/- 09/03/1920 General Order 51 of 19th March 1920
PC £4/4/- 09/03/1921 General Order 42 of 21st March 1921
PC £4/6/- 09/03/1922 General Order 38 of 16th March 1922
PC £4/8/- 09/03/1923 General Order 50 of 17th March 1923
PC £4/10/- 09/03/1924 General Order 46 of 18th March 1924
PC £4/12/6 09/03/1931
PC £4/15/- 09/03/1936
Army Service During The War.
General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 is a list of 96 officers which included the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. Charles is shown as PC 29 Pearce C. ‘R’ Division recalled to the Royal Field Artillery on the 4th August 1914.
From his Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls we know Charles, as Gunner 64124, landed in France on 11th September 1914 with the 12th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and subsequently was awarded the 1914 Star with Clasp and Roses. He was promoted Corporal and also received the British War and Victory medals.
On the 2nd November 1918 the War Office published the Daily List No.5712 which showed that Corporal 64124 C.F.W. Pearce of the Royal Field Artillery had been wounded. He was therefore entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by his being named on this list.
From his Police Service Record, we know that Charles served for 4 years 6 months from the 4th August 1914 to the 29th January 1919 and this period was allowed to count as Police Service for pension purposes as confirmed by the Police Standing Joint Committee Resolution No. 35 of the 9th October 1914.
Like every other soldier who was demobilised at the end of the war Charles would have been given 28 days leave. He used this time to organise his re-joining of the Police.
Re-joining The Police.
On the 22nd January 1919 Charles was Medically re-examined to ensure he was still fit to carry out the duties of a Police Constable.
General Order 23 of 25th January 1919 listed 25 Police Officers who having been released from H.M. Army had been re-appointed to the Force. Frederick was shown as:
PC 29 Pearce C. ‘R’ Division at Hatfield from 30th January 1919 on £2/7/0 per week.
Each officer had to be formerly re-attested. The Superintendents concerned had to report to Headquarters the date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.
Charles was Re-attested on the 10th February 1919.
General Order 25 of the 31st January 1919 instructed Charles that from Thursday, 30th January 1919 he would be transferred from ‘R’ Division at Hatfield to ‘G’ Division at Hatfield. The 1919 Electoral Roll lists Charles as living at 11, Grace Mead, Hatfield.
Nine months later General Order 215 of the 18th October 1919 informed Charles that he was being transferred again from ‘G’ Division at Hatfield to ‘C’ Division at Watford on 27th October 1919.
On the 22nd October 1919 Charles married Gladys Jessie Turner at Hatfield. They had two children Mary Gladys Rosina born in 1920 at Watford and Kathleen Florence born in 1923 at Watford. The Electoral Rolls of 1920 to 1925 list Charles and Gladys as living at 15, Lowestoft Road, Watford.
On the 11th March 1921 he passed his Ambulance certificate, an important qualification which entitled him to wear a badge on his lower left tunic sleeve to show he was trained in basic First Aid.
On the 6th February 1923 he was finally discharged from the Army Reserve having completed his 12 years of service.
A Bit Of A Blemish.
General Order 72 of the 22nd April 1924 announced that Police Constable Pearce 29 ‘C’ Division had been disciplined:
Charge: Disobedience of orders that is to say did wilfully neglect to book off duty at 06.30 on 25th March 1924 when ordered to do so by Inspector Olding (Discipline Code 3 Order 54/1922)
Finding: Guilty. An enquiry into this case was held by the Chief Constable at Watford on 15th April when it was established that Constable Pearce and the majority members of No. 2 or St Albans Road Section, of the ‘C’ or Watford Division, banded together and made an arrangement to take a certain line of action in order to obtain a redress of a supposed grievance. All members of the Force, whether a grievance in fact exists or not must understand clearly that such action is entirely subversive to discipline and cannot be allowed. The proper course if men consider themselves aggrieved has always been clearly defined. Every man has a right of audience with his Superintendent before whom he can lay his grievance and if the man is not satisfied, he has a right of appeal to the Chief Constable. In this particular case no attempt was made to carry things through the proper channel. It would appear that it was merely by chance that Constable Pearce was made a scapegoat and under the circumstances he is not dismissed from the Force.
Sentence: Severely reprimanded.
General Order 73 of the 24th May 1926 instructed Charles that from the 2nd June 1926 he was being transferred from ‘C’ Division at Watford to ‘D’ Division at Wiggington, to occupy a cottage vacated by ex-Constable Frogley. The Electoral Rolls of 1926 to 1930 list Charles and Gladys as living at near Park Farm, Wigginton.
The General Strike.
General Order 117 of 29th August 1926 concerned the Emergency Regulations 1926 and instructions for 50 Hertfordshire Police Officers to be on standby should the Secretary of State call upon the County Force to draft men elsewhere. The first 20 named would be required to proceed at 8 hours’ notice or less. These included officers from ‘A’ , ‘B’ , ‘C’ and ‘D’ Divisions and it would appear to qualify to be amongst the 20 you needed to have a motor bicycle available. Charles was not named amongst the 20 as he didn’t have a motor bicycle.
General Order 140 of the 18th October 1926 declared that under the Emergency Regulations 1926 a detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary, consisting of an Inspector, three Sergeants and 36 Constables, was detailed for duty in the County of Derby as from 19th October 1926. Charles was one of the Constables sent. Their orders were:
The detachment will proceed by nearest railway route to St Pancras, London Midland & Scottish Railway, reporting on the main departure platform at 2 p.m., when Inspector Digby will parade the party and call the roll. The detachment will proceed by the 2.25 p.m. train to Derby. On arrival at Derby, Inspector Digby will report to the representative of the Chief Constable of the Derby County Constabulary who will meet the train and provide omnibus transport to Ripley about 10 miles distant.
Dress: Greatcoats, cape, cloth jacket, 2nd cloth trousers, 1925 issue helmet, leggings, truncheons and handcuffs, woollen gloves, lamps, whistles and chains.
Divisional Superintendents will advance Railway fares if required and an account for same will be rendered to Headquarters Office for repayment. Inspector Digby will render a daily report direct to the Chief Constable’s Office each day, showing state of health of all members of the detachment and any matters of interest which may occur.
General Order 157 of the 14th November 1926 reported:
The Chief Constable is gratified to learn that the services of the detachment of the Hertford County Constabulary added temporarily to the Derby County Constabulary, were satisfactory, and he has much pleasure in publishing the following extract from a letter received from the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, under date 11th November 1926:
Begins: “The detachment has done very good work and I will be grateful if you will be kind enough to convey to them my warm thanks for their services. I may say that Inspector Digby did very good work indeed and was of great assistance to my Ilkeston Superintendent. Will you also give him my personal thanks”. Ends.
If this letter from the Derbyshire Chief Constable seems a bit luke warm it transpires 10 of the Hertfordshire Constables suffered food poisoning after eating food which was supplied to them on behalf of the Derbyshire Police Authority. The Hertfordshire Force Surgeon said that their illness should be classed as an injury on duty and the Chief Constable agreed and said no one should suffer any stoppages from their pay.
A Royal Visit – Mutual Aid To Luton Borough Police.
General Order 156 of 14th November 1926 announced orders for an Inspector, two Sergeants and 18 Constables with regard to the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales to Luton on the 17th November 1926. Charles was listed as one of those detailed to attend. In command of the Hertfordshire contingent was Inspector G.T. Sharp of ‘R’ Division who would act under orders as laid down by the Chief Constable of the Borough of Luton. The detachment was instructed to report at the Borough Police Station Luton at 9 a.m. The men were ordered to take the following dress and equipment: Great Coats 1925 issue, Cloth jackets 1926 issue, Dress trousers 1926 issue, Cloth helmets 1926 issue, Whistle and chain, Handcuffs, Pocket Book, Truncheon, Black woollen gloves and Capes.
From his Police Service Record, we know that between the 9th and the 27th November 1927 Charles was off sick with a lacerated wound to a hand which was classed as an injury on duty. The circumstances are unknown.
Another Small Blemish.
Charles was admonished on the 12th August 1929 by the Deputy Chief Constable for making use of an improper expression to a Mrs Fanny Perkins at Tring Park at 5 p.m. on the 7th August.
On the 23rd November 1931 Charles was transferred from ‘D’ Division at Wiggington to ‘D’ Division at Harpenden.
Retirement – Maybe Not !
On the 30th May 1939 Charles retired as a Constable on completion of his service on a pension of £153/11/3 per annum
The 1939 Register lists Charles, a retired Police Constable, and Gladys and their children as living at 38, Masefield Road, Harpenden.
On the outbreak of the Second World War Charles returned to duty as a Police War Reserve Officer from November 1939 until December 1945 and was promoted to Sergeant.
On the 23rd March 1980 Charles, a retired Police Sergeant of 38, Masefield Road, Harpenden, died at the Memorial Hospital, Carlton Road, Harpenden. His funeral was held at 11.30 a.m. on the 27th March 1980 at Garston Crematorium.