Gerald Pearson – Accidentally killed in action 1917

Gerald Pearson
Commonwealth war grave cemetery HAZEBROUCK COMMUNAL CEMETERY
HAZEBROUCK COMMUNAL CEMETERY, Nord, France

Gerald Pearson served with the 45th squadron of the Royal Flying Corp, enlisting on the 2 March 1916. He was accidently Killed whilst flying on 29 October 1917, aged just 19. He was the son of Arthur and Lucy Ada Pearson, of “Ashleigh,” Nantwich Rd., Crewe. He is buried in HAZEBROUCK COMMUNAL CEMETERY, Nord, France.

Second-Lieutenant-Gerald-Pearson-CWGC-Certificate

Table Of Contents

ACCIDENTALLY KILLED

(Real Full Story)

Posts on 11 December 2003 give the following information. ‘Airman Died’ says ‘Kwf Camel serial B2350 Western Front’ ‘Kwf’ usually means killed in an accident as the book uses ‘Kia’ for those who died in battle. ‘Ray Sturtivant’s and Gordon Page’s excellent ‘Camel File’ published by Air Britain, shows that 2nd Lt. Pearson died flying Camel B2350 on October 29, 1917, which was powered by a 130 hp Clerget 9B and constructed by Ruston Proctor & Co. The Camel file states that 2nd Lt. Pearson’s aircraft broke up in a dive from 3000 feet 3 miles south west of his aerodrome. Sounds more like a flying accident to me rather than a KIA. B2350 was struck off charge on November 11, 1917. October 29 was an unhappy day for 2nd Lt. Pearson as earlier on he crashed on takeoff in B2388. He was apparently uninjured. I wonder if this incident caused his downfall later in the day.’

Examination of records indicate that Gerald was to made a flying officer and confirmed in his rank on 31 August 1917. He was posted to France on 27 October. His practice flight was in a Sopwith Camel, in which he crashed on take off. later in the day, he took off in a Sopwith F1 plane, in which he nosedived and was killed.

Press Announcements

Report appearing in the Liverpool Echo – Wednesday 07 November 1917

Royal Flying Corp

The Royal Flying Corps was established by Royal Warrant on the 13th April 1912. The Central Flying School was formed on the 12th May and the 3 initial squadrons a day later.

The main branches of the RFC were:

The Military Wing – comprising 2 aeroplane squadrons (No.2 and No.3) and one airship/balloon squadron (No.1)

The Naval Wing

The Central Flying School

The Royal Aircraft Factory

Prior to the outbreak of war a further 4 squadrons were formed. No.4 on 12th September 1912, No.5 (26th July 1913), No.6 (31st January 1914), and No.7 (1st May 1914).

On 1st July 1914 the Naval Wing took control of all airships and balloons, and became the Royal Naval Air Service under Admiralty control.

On the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914 the RFC had 147 officers, 1097 men and 179 aeroplanes.

The Royal Flying Corps ceased to exist with the amalgamation of the RFC and RNAS into the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918.

The period between May 1912 and March 1918, coinciding with the short life of the Royal Flying Corps, represented one of the most interesting, exciting and turbulent periods in the development of British aviation.

It was a time of innovation, experimentation, rapid change, triumph and tragedy, populated by a colourful and diverse cast of characters, some of whom would lead tragically short lives and others who would achieve leading positions in wartime and post war aviation. Many of the design, construction, operational and logistical lessons learned during that period have resulted in techniques and practices that are still in use today.

Personal Life

Gerald Pearson was born in 1898 in Nantwich, Cheshire to Arthur and Lucy Ada (nee Bolshaw) Pearson and baptised on 20 Sep 1898 in Crewe, Christ Church, Cheshire, England.

On the 1891 UK Census on 5 Apr 1891 his father was living at Nantwich Road in Coppenhall Monks, Nantwich, Cheshire, England, Crewe. He was a Solicitors Clerk in 1891. His mother was living with her parents on the 1891 UK Census on 5 Apr 1891 at Union Street in Coppenhall Monks, Nantwich, Cheshire, England, Crewe.

He was age 2 and living with his parents on the 1901 UK Census on 31 Mar 1901 at Nantwich Road in Monks Coppenhall, Nantwich, Cheshire, England. Another brother, Norris, was born in 1899 in 1899 and  baptised on 27 Nov 1899 in Crewe, Christ Church. Sadly Norris died in 1900, aged just 3 months.

A further brother, Leslie, was born in 1903 and baptised on 18 Jul 1903 in Crewe, Christ Church, Cheshire.

On the 1901 Census, Gerald is not listed as living with his father.

He enlisted with the Royal Flying Corp on the 2 March 1916, with his occupation at the time as being a Student.

His parents continued to live in Southport, and were living at 9 Winterdyne School Waterloo Road, Southport in Southport C.B., Lancashire, England  in 1939 Register. His father died on 31 Jul 1940 at age of 74 years and his mother on 19 Jul 1956 at age of 89 years. His brother Leslie died in Jine1947 at age of 43 years and buried in Thornton, Merseyside.

Personal Records

Personal records have been added to his LIVES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR page. Click here to view and look under Media and Evidence.

Census records

Grave Details – Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery

His war grave details can be seen here.  This links to the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website.

Gerald Pearson headstone

The grave photograph was taken by the War Graves Photographic Project. A copy of this photograph can be ordered from their website.

Remembered in Birkdale Cemetery.

Geraldis remembered on his parents headstone in Birkdale Cemetery – Section B

SACRED REMEMBRANCE OF
MY DEAR HUBAND ARTHUR PEARSON
WHO DIED 31st JULY 1940.
ALSO LUCIE ADA, HIS WIFE
WHO DIED 19th JULY 1956.
ALSO OUR BELOVED SON LESLIE PEARSON,
WHO DIED SUDDENLY JUNE 1947.
AND LIES IN THE GARDEN OF REST THORNTON.


ALSO OF OUR BELOVED SON
GERALD PEARSON 2nd Lieut 45th Squadron R.F.C.
KILLED IN FRANCE 29th OCTOBER 1917 AGED 19 YEARS.

ALSO A LITTLE SON NORRIS,
DIED 1899, AGED 3 MONTHS.

Cemetery Details -HAZEBROUCK COMMUNAL CEMETERY

Hazebrouck is a town lying about 56 kilometres south-east of Calais and is easily reached from Calais or Boulogne. The Communal Cemetery is on the south-western outskirts of the town. From the Grand Place in Hazebrouck follow the D916 Bethune road. Traverse the first set of traffic lights and the Communal Cemetery will be found 200 metres further along on the right hand side of the road, as indicated by a signpost. The War Graves Plot lies immediately inside the entrance to the cemetery.

From October 1914 to September 1917, casualty clearing stations were posted at Hazebrouck. The Germans shelled and bombed the town between September 1917 and September 1918 making it unsafe for hospitals, but in September and October 1918, No.9 British Red Cross Hospital was stationed there.

Commonwealth burials began in the communal cemetery in October 1914 and continued until July 1918. At first, they were made among the civilian graves, but after the Armistice these earlier burials were moved into the main Commonwealth enclosure.

During the Second World War, Hazebrouck was garrisoned and was on the western flank of the area occupied by the British Expedionary Force until May 1940. The cemetery was used again, mainly for the burial of those killed in late May 1940 during the fighting which covered the retreat of the BEF to the Dunkirk-Nieuport perimeter

The cemetery now contains 877 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (17 of them unidentified) and 86 from the Second World War (20 of them unidentified).

The Commonwealth plot, for the construction of which the town of Hazebrouck contributed 20,000 francs, was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

You can view the details for this cemetery on the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website here.