Lance Corporal Edward (Dutchy) Pearce

This picture showing him wearing 12 Good Conduct stripes was probably taken toward the end of his service in Omagh.

Edward Pearce was born in Dublin in or around 1846. This was a significant date in Irish history as it was the year before the Irish Potato Famine, called the ‘Great Hunger’. He was brought up in Portsmouth, Hampshire. His father, Henry Pearce, may have left Ireland to escape the ravages of the famine.

Edward enlisted at Fareham on 31 August 1866 and joined the 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras Infantry), then stationed in Portsmouth. He went to India on draft on 9 March 1868 and joined the regiment in Madras. He returned to Britain in 1876 with the regiment and was posted initially to Colchester. He then served in Portsmouth until 1879 and then on to Preston for a further two years until 1881. The 108th Regiment was then posted to Enniskillen and it was at this time that the 108th Regiment became the 2nd Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers under the Childers Reforms of 1881.

Pearce moved abroad with the regiment on posting to Malta for five months in December 1885. His third posting east was to India in 1888 when he served in the Tirah Campaign, fought in the area of current-day Pakistan between the Khyber and Kurram valleys on the Afghan border. He then went on to serve in the Boer War and in Egypt before returning to Dublin in 1908. On the outbreak of the First World War, he was posted to the Regimental Depot in Omagh because of his age. He remained at the Depot until his discharge on 31 July 1923.

At the end of his long service of almost 57 years the regiment was concerned about his future as he was now well into his seventies. The Royal Hospital at Kilmainham was no longer available because of the British withdrawal from the Irish Free State. The regiment on his behalf therefore made application to the Royal Hospital Chelsea; Dutchy was accepted and lived there until his death on 20 August 1925.

L/Cpl 'Dutchy' Pearce was awarded the India Medal 1895 with the clasps Punjab Frontier and Tirah. He was also awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with the clasps Transvaal and Orange Free State. In 1911, he attended the Coronation of King George V and was one of only four members of the Regiment to be awarded the Coronation Medal. He was also awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. 'Dutchy' Pearce held the record of continuous service for the whole of the British Army, having served continuously for fifty-seven years bar one month, and it is interesting to note that for all his service he never had a single entry on his conduct sheets. He wore 12 good conduct stripes on his sleeve.

Lance Corporal 'Dutchy' Pearce served in over 20 different stations - in Burma, India (Peshawar to Belgaum), Egypt, South Africa, Malta, Ireland and England.

His medals and walking stick are on display in the Inniskillings Museum.