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  • Courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
Person Details
14 Dec 1888
Wrexham Denbighshire Wales
John Basil was the eldest son of John and Hannah Louisa Pierce nee Bullock. John snr. was born in Nottingham in 1848 (J/A/S Nottingham/Tweltridge), the son of John Lloyd and Selina Ann Pierce. He was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Nottingham, on 6 August 1848. Hannah Louisa Bullock was also born in Nottingham, birth registered 1852 (J/F/M Nottingham/Cherrey). They were married on 17 July 1879 (J/A/S Nottingham) at Nottingham St Mary and had four children: Helen Louisa b. 29 December 1881 (1882 J/F/M Nottingham) bap. 5 March 1882 Nottingham St Mary, Hilda Mary b. 2 March 1884 (J/F/M Nottingham) bap. 12 April 1884 St Mary, John Basil b. Wrexham Denbighshire 13 December 1888 bap. Wrexham 13 January 1889 and Wilfrid b. 9 October 1893 (O/N/D Nottingham) bap. 5 November 1893 St Mary. With the exception of John Basil the children were born in Nottingham. In 1898 John snr. (32), a solicitor and commissioner for oaths, and his wife Hannah (29) were living at 3 Mansfield Grove, Nottingham. They employed Ann Kemp (13) a general servant. They were still living at Mansfield Grove when their first child, Helen, was born later that year. Their daughter Hilda was born three years later in 1884 by which time they were living on Gill Street, Nottingham. However, in 1891 John and Hannah and their three children, Helen (9), Hilda (7) and John (2) were living on Gedling Grove, Nottingham. John employed a general servant and a domestic nurse. Their fourth child, Wilfrid, was born two years later when they were still living at 25 Gedling Grove. In 1901 John, Hannah and their four children, together with two general domestic servants, were living at 5 Elm Avenue. However, the family had moved to 3 Elm Avenue by 1911. The eldest child, Helen, had married and left home in 1906 but the other children were still living with their parents: Hilda (27) a hospital nurse, John (22) an articled clerk and Wilfrid (17) a clerk for a tobacco manufacturer. John employed one domestic servant. John snr. died at 3 Elm Avenue on 12 September 1914; he was 56 years old. His widow Hannah Louisa died on 21 January 1940; she was then living at 'Loen', Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Park, Nottingham, the home of her son-in-law, Dr Leslie Trotter, the husband of her younger daughter, Hilda. John Basil was living at 27 Notintone Place, Sneinton, at the time of his death in 1918. Of John Basil's siblings: Helen Louisa married William Donaldson Wright (b. 19 May 1878) in 1906 (A/M/J Nottingham) and in 1911 they were living at 43 Ebers Road, Nottingham. William (32) was a builders' merchant (employer). William attested on 30 October 1915 and served in the Royal Engineers (probably the Signal Corps) and was in France from 5 February 1916. His service record notes that he agreed to defer mobilisation until 30 September 1919 and he was discharged to 'Kentyn', Dagmar Grove, Nottingham (his address on enlisting) on 10 October 1919. It appears that he and Helen divorced as she is listed in subsequent probate records as 'Helen Louisa Wright (single woman)' and there is a record of the marriage of a William Donaldson Wright to Joyce M [Mary] Carr in 1926 (J/F/M Nottingham). In 1939 at the time of the England & Wales Register Donald and his wife were living at 13 Sherwood Rise, Nottingham; he was employed as a transport company director (died 21 June 1962. Probate: 51 Market Square, Pocklington Yorkshire). Helen Louisa was registered at the home of her brother-in-law, Dr Leslie Trotter, a retired medical practitioner, at 'Loen', Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Park. Her occupation was given as registrar at an art college. Helen Louisa died on 27 March 1973; she was then living at Pratt House, Yuill Lane, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Hilda Mary marrried Leslie Batten Currie Trotter (b. 4 August 1882, birth registered Monmouth) in 1914 (A/M/J Nottingham). He served in the war as a captain in the RAMC. In 1939 Leslie Trotter was recorded on the England & Wales Register living at 'Loen', Dagmar Grove, Nottingham. He had retired from his medical practice. Also recorded in the home were his sister-in-law, Helen Louisa Wright (see above), and a housekeeper, while his wife Hilda was registered, with her widowed mother, Hannah Louisa, at 'The Venning', Ledbury, Herefordshire; the property may have been owned by a third person in the house, Dora Weston (b. 1887) a poultry farmer. Hilda died in a boating accident in July 1943 (see 'extra information'); she was then living at 826 Woodborough Road, Mapperley, Nottingham. Her husband died in 1964 (O/N/D Gloucester City) aged 82. Wilfrid had been a member of the Nottingham High School Contingent of the OTC then on 3 October 1910 at the age of 17 years 10 months he attested in the Territorial Force (4 years service UK). He served in the Royal Horse Artillery and completed annual training up to and including 1913 but transferred to embodied service on 5 August 1914. He served with the Expeditionary Force (Egypt) from 11 April to 5 October 1915 then Home Service from 6 October. According to the extant service papers, he was discharged on 14 October 1915 under KR para 392 (xxi). He qualified for the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. Wilfrid (recorded as Wilfrid Lloyd) married Christine Elizabeth Ferris (b. 2 October 1879) on 9 January 1919 at Plympton St Maurice, Devon. His wife was the daughter of the late William Hodge Ferris, an engineer. The marriage register records that Wilfrid's occupation was 'Lt. RHA'. The couple were living at 3 George Terrace, Plympton. In 1939 Wilfrid and Chirstine were living at 23 Private Road, Sherwood, Nottingham, with their daughter Pamela BF (b. 11 April 1921, A/M/J Lambeth); Wilfrid was a police superintendent and according to a newspaper report in 1940, one of his responsibilities was the charge of the ARP organisation. His wife died in 1965 (J/A/S Amersham Bucks) and he died in 1971 (J/A/S Wycombe Bucks) aged 77.
Educated Nottingham High School; admitted 15 September 1897 aged 8, removed December 1905. Altar server at St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. In 1911 he was an articled clerk but a practising solicitor by 1913/14 in his father's chambers at 22 Wheeler Gate, Nottingham. Member of University College Nottingham OTC.
02 Oct 1918
1604065 - CWGC Website
53rd Sqdn Royal Air Force
Served 53rd Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps which was formed at Catterick on 15 May 1916. Originally intended to be a training squadron, it was sent to France to operate reconnaissance in December that year. The squadron was equipped with the B.E.2e—swapped for the R.E.8 in April 1917. Lt Pierce was the co-pilot of an RE8, serial number, C2742, on a Counter Attack Patrol. Leutnant K Plauth of Ja51 claimed one plane shot down over Gheluvelt and was credited with this kill (Source: 'The Sky Their Battlefield’ ). Pierce's body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
Nottingham Post, 'Roll of Honour', 16 October 1918. 'Pierce. Reported missing October 2nd 1918, now reported killed. John Basil Pierce, Lieutenant RAF elder son of the late John Pierce and of Mrs Pierce of 27 Notintone Place, Nottingham.' Brass plaque embedded in floor close to the chancel in St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham, inscription: 'The angels round and about the altar stand there to the greater glory of God and to the dear memory of an altar server who kept the faith. John Basil Pierce, Lieut. 53rd Squadron Royal Air Force, killed in action Oct 2nd 1918 at Gheluwe in Belgium. He bequeathed his possessions to this church. May he rest in peace.' Church closed 2003 and later sold. The plaque was found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and later transferred to the Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum; the whereabouts of the altar decorations is not known. See 'Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European cultural history', Jay Winter, pp32-34, Cambridge University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-63988-0. On 2 October his plane had crash landed and the observer, Malcolm Wakeman, was wounded and died later. The plane 'had not exploded … though it was still carrying a full bomb load. Wakeman’s co-pilot, Lieutenant Basil Pierce, had been killed, and the injured man asked his parents to inform Pierce’s mother … Mrs Pierce had received initial notification only that her son was missing in action … In the weeks and months following his son’s death he [Wakeman snr] conducted a long correspondence with the mother of the co-pilot (sic) of his son’s plane, and with other bereaved parents. ‘There is such a bond of emotion between us’, wrote Mrs Pierce.’ (Source Imperial War Museum, Wakeman Papers, 67/305/1) Malcolm Wakeman, whose father was a Mancunian building materials merchant, was conscripted in 1917, joined the RAF and was commissioned as a flight observer in a two-man plane. He was posted to France on 14 July 1918. In one of his letters to his family, Malcolm wrote how, ‘His plane caught some anti-aircraft fire, and how his co-pilot had to stand on the wing with his foot in a hole to stop petrol leaking.’ Nottinghamshire Law Society’s ROH (see photograph): John Basil Pierce. Was born on the 14th December 1888, educated at the Nottingham High School, articled to his father, the late Mr John Pierce, and admitted in February 1913. When the war broke out he was unable, to his keen regret, to volunteer immediately for service owing to the serious illness of his father, who subsequently died. In the summer of 1915 he joined the OTC attached to the University College, Nottingham, under the command of Major (then Captain) Trotman, from thence he passed to the newly founded Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford and was gazetted to the Royal Flying Corps (afterwards Royal Air Force) in June 1916. For two years he was on active service in France and Belgium and was considered the finest pilot in his squadron. He was mentioned in a despatch of November 1917 for most distinguished conduct. He was killed while flying over Menin on the 2nd December 1918. His Captain wrote of him, ‘He was the keenest and most enthusiastic fellow I ever met, and would carry out successful flights in the worst weather when no one else in the squadron would think of going up.’ Probate February 1919, administration to Helen Louisa Wright, his elder sister, effects £599 17s 6d). Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 15 September 1914: ‘Pierce. On the 12th inst. At 3 Elm-avenue, John Pierce, age 56. Service St. Catharine’s, Tuesday, at one o’clock. Interment Church Cemetery.’ (www/britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Pierce John of Wheeler Gate and Elma-avenue Nottingham died 12 September 1914 at Elm-avenue Probate London 6 October to Hannah Louisa Pierce widow. Effects £594 19s. Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 22 January 1940: ‘Pierce. January 21st, 1940, at the house of her son-in-law, Dr. Leslie Trotter, Hannah Louisa, widow of John Pierce, of ‘Loen’, Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Park, Nottingham, RIP. No mourning at her request. No flower, please.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Pierce Hannah Louisa of Loen Dagmar-grove Alexandra Park Nottingham widow died 21 January 1940 Probate Nottingham 2 January to Helen Louisa Wright single woman Hilda Mary Trotter (wife of Leslie Batten Currie Trotter) and Wilfrid Pierce police-superintendent. Effects £2464 19s. 69d. Nottingham Evening Post, 7 July 1943: ‘Doctor’s wife feared lost. Fears are entertained for the safety of Mrs Hilda Trotter, wife of Dr. LBC Trotter, of Woodborough-road Nottingham, who together with Mr CVB Marquand, a distinguished botanist, were the occupants of a motor launch which disappeared in the mist off the Scottish coast.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, 8 July 1943: ‘Caught in Whirlpool. Nottm. Doctor’s Wife’s body seen in cave. We reported yesterday the disappearance, off the west coast of Scotland, of a motor launch, with two occupatns – Mrs Hilda Trotter, wife of Dr LBC Trotter, of 826 Woodborough-road, Nottingham, and Mr CDB Marquand, a well-known botanist. Late last night it was learned that the body of Mrs Trotter and the launch had been seen at the bottom of a cave on Priest island, the furthest from the mainland of the group known as the Summer Isles. It is practically impossible to reach the cave, however, owing to a whirlpool at the entrance. It is believed that the launch was caught in the whirlpool and drawn into the cave. No trace has yet been found of Mr. Marquand. The discovery was made by Dr. Fraser Darling, a naturalist who lives on Tanara, a neighbouring island, and who helped in the search with some salmon fishers.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, 9 July 1943: ‘Fate of Nottm Doctor’s wife. Boat wreck found. Part of a wrecked boat thought to be the launch in which Mr CVB Marquand, botanist, of Kew, London, and Mrs Hilda Trotter,, wife of Mr LBC Trotter, of Nottingham, were lost off the coast of Rosshire, has been seen from the cliffs of Priest Island. A body believed to be Mrs Trotter’s can still be seen floating in the backwash of a whirlpool at the entrance to a cave, but it has been impossible to reach it. No sign has been seen of Mr Marquand.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Note: Cecil Victor Boley Marquand (b. 7 June 1897), botanist, served in the Great War (MGC, Royal Tank Corps), invalided. Took early retirement from Kew in 1939 and moved to Skye. 'Drowned there on 1 Juy 1943 while on a boating expedition in search of rare algae' (Wikepedia). Probate: Trotter Hilda Mary of 826 Woodborough-road Mapperley Nottingham (wife of Leslie Batten Currie Trotter) who was last seen alive on 1 July 1943 and whose dead body was found on 6 July 1943 at George Fada Priest Island Lochbroom county Ross and Cromarty Administration Gloucester 28 November to the said Leslie Batten Currie Trotter retired doctor of medicine and Helen Louisa Wright single woman. Effects £1165 15s. 9d. Probate: Wright Helen Louisa of Pratt House Yuill Lane Amersham Bucks. Died 27 March 1973 Probate Nottingham 30 May £5555
Remembered on


  • Courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
    Photo David Nunn - Courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
  • Brass plaque from St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. Found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and now in Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum. Photograph Rachel Farrand
    John Basil Pierce - Brass plaque from St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. Found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and now in Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum. Photograph Rachel Farrand
  • Interior of St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, showing altar decorations. Photograph courtesy of St Mary's church, High Pavement.
    John Basil Pierce - Interior of St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, showing altar decorations. Photograph courtesy of St Mary's church, High Pavement.
  • Wills record courtesy of Simon Williams.
    John Basil Pierce - Wills record courtesy of Simon Williams.
  • From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.
    - From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.
  • Memorial from St Catherine, St Ann's, Nottingham, now in Newark Air Museum. Photograph Peter Gillings (August 2017)
    John Basil Pierce - Memorial from St Catherine, St Ann's, Nottingham, now in Newark Air Museum. Photograph Peter Gillings (August 2017)