The following piece appeared in The Shipley Times & Express on 25 February 1916Amongst the little British Army of Regulars which crossed the Channel in the early days of the war was a fair sprinkling of reservists – old campaigners who had previously done duty in many parts of the Empire.Included in this latter category was Bombardier J(ames) C(harles) Pearce, RFA, whose home is at No 3, Wrose Hill, Windhill.After having been at the Front since the 17th of August, 1914 and fought in well-nigh all the principal battles since Mons, Bombardier Pearce was recently home on a short furlough.He first joined the Army in 1901. In his youth, he was well-known in Shipley and at the time he enlisted he was living at the Bradford Arms Hotel in Otley Road.IndiaHe has seen eight years’ active service in India and on one occasion his regiment was hastily mobilised and ordered into the interior to put down a rising of natives. It was subsequently found, however, that the services of the military were not necessary and the
regiment returned to its base without firing a shot.When war broke out, Bdr Pearce had only been out of the Army a short time, during which period he was employed at Messrs George Hodgson & Son Ltd, Valley Road, Shipley and he was recalled to his old regiment.MonsHe was at Mons with the RFA late on Sunday afternoon the 23rd of August 1914. To an “Express” representative Bdr Pearce said: “We dropped into action straight away and on Monday the whole division was engaged in fighting a fierce rear-guard action.“All day on Tuesday the fighting continued and on Wednesday, we took part in the action at La Cateau. That was a terrible business and we were kept on the go“Later, we got the order to retire. Just about this time, I was put in charge of a lorry, along with a comrade of mine, with orders to carry munitions from behind up to the guns and in carrying out those duties, we were cut off from the rest of the division. We joined up,
however, two days later.“We continued fighting all along the Marne and arrived at Soissons on the 14th September. Subsequently we fought at Bethune and La Bassee and eventually went up to Ypres.” Bdr Pearce was at the Hill 60 battle.“The retreat from La Bassee,” he said, “was an experience which I am unable to describe and I could sit and tell you enough to fill a book of the inhumanity of the Germans to the people of Belgium. The hardships gone through by the women and children of Belgium was terrible.”In his opinion, the little British Army that retreated from the Marne, saved not only Paris but England.“You will have heard a good deal, no doubt, about the Angel at Mons,” proceeded Bdr Pearce, ‘but you can take it from me that the only angels we fellows saw at that place were giants in heavy
grey overcoats and shiny helmets,” meaning the German troopers.A little incident which happened as Bdr Pearce was crossing the channel on his way home from the Front shows how even after the actual battlefield is left behind, the troubles of the soldiers are not always at an end.The Empress Queen, which carried this Tommy and his comrades was purposely run aground because of the Zeppelins reported to be in the vicinity and the men were conveyed to the shore by means of destroyers and tugs.