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Person Details
08 Nov 1898
Lincoln
Pearson's father James was a travelling salesman from Yorkshire. His mother Alice was a Londoner. Ralph had seven siblings - Florence (born 1883), Ethel (1884), Lottie (1888), Elsie (1892), Felice (1897), Bertram (1894) and Leslie (1903). In 1901, the family lived at 2, St Catherine's Grove, Lincoln. By 1911, they had moved to 8, Woodward Street, Meadows, Nottingham.
Pearson was an apprentice motor engineer.
10 Apr 1919
20
2750537 - CWGC Website
45389
8, Woodward Street, Meadows, Nottingham
Corporal
19th Bn Durham Light Infantry
Apprentice motor engineer Ralph 'Mac' Pearson enlisted, aged 17 years and 198 days, on May 22nd 1916. Pearson probably joined 19th Bn Durham Light Infantry in theatre early in1918. 19th DLI was entrenched around Langermarck in Belgium until the third week in March, occasionally forming working parties to assist Royal Engineers and casualties seem to have been light. On March 22nd, as the Kaiserslacht onslaught drove the British 3rd and 5th Armies into retreat, 104th Brigade was ordered south. Ralph Pearson’s first real action was dramatic; at Talus Wood near Maricourt, 19th DLI counter attacked, advancing on March 24th under murderous shell fire and, with fixed bayonets, drove the Germans back 1,000 yards. Covering a brigade retreat twenty four hours later, Pearson’s battalion was again involved in ferocious combat. On March 27th, the battalion sustained a twenty four hour artillery barrage near Bray but again the position was held. After a quieter spell near Vaux during early April, 19th DLI again attacked near Martinsart Wood on 22nd of the month suffering over 120 casualties. Pearson had evidently proved an effective soldier throughout these brutal exchanges because, on April 27th, he was promoted to corporal. 35th Division returned north in July, 19th DLI entraining at Doullens and arriving at Watou via St. Omer. Pearson spent August and most of September training and in support and when the battalion moved into the line on September 25th, the war diarist reported ‘situation quiet’. However three days later, under a massive artillery barrage, 19th DLI attacked enemy lines at 5.30 am capturing 'Hill 60, Canada Tunnels and Klein Zillebeke.' On September 30th the battalion launched a further assault at 7pm which was thwarted by heavy machine gun fire and entanglements, and a renewed attempt was similarly repulsed twenty four hours later after a 200 yard advance. Following relief and a few days under canvas, 19th DLI moved forward to Becelaere on October 12th and on the 13th to assembly positions behind Leadhale Copse. Advancing in thick fog at 05.30 on October 14th the battalion captured enemy guns and ‘many prisoners’ but sustained 92 casualties, including Ralph Pearson who was wounded.
On January 17th1919, Pearson was repatriated and, probably in a compassionate army gesture to facilitate visiting, spent the last three months of his life in the Trent Bridge School (his old school where he had been head boy) Military Hospital where he died at 7pm on April 10th with ‘relatives present’. Pearson died from 'emphysema' which, combined with his long period of hospitalisation and the suffering suggested below, probably implies that he was gassed. He was buried with full military honours in Nottingham’s General Cemetery. Nottingham Evening Post (Deaths), Friday 11th April, 1919: 'Pearson - Died in Trent Bridge Military Hospital, April 10th Corpl R. S. Pearson (Mac), DLI, aged 20, result of wounds received in France, beloved son of Mr and Mrs Pearson of this city. Peace after pain. - Sorrowing mam and dad, sisters, brothers. Interment 2pm, Tuesday, General Cemetery.' Source: Britannia Calls: Nottingham schools and the push for Great War victory, (Knowle Hill: 2010) by David Nunn
Remembered on

Photos

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  • Pearson's grave in Nottingham General Cemetery
    Photo David Nunn - Pearson's grave in Nottingham General Cemetery
  • 2, St Catherine's Grove, Lincoln birthplace of Ralph Stanley Pearson
    Photo David Nunn - 2, St Catherine's Grove, Lincoln birthplace of Ralph Stanley Pearson
  • 8, Woodward Street, Meadows, Nottingham from where Pearson enlisted. He attended Trent Bridge School, a two minute walk away, from this address.
    Photo David Nunn - 8, Woodward Street, Meadows, Nottingham from where Pearson enlisted. He attended Trent Bridge School, a two minute walk away, from this address.