L/Cpl Christopher Walter Peacock. MM.|
The following information and the photograph of L/Cpl Peacock have been kindly contributed by his Granddaughters, Norma Head and Sandra Jones
of Middlesbrough, N Yorks.|
These two ladies have recently donated their Grandfather's Military Medal and briar pipe to the Green Howards' Regimental Museum at
Richmond, N Yorkshire.
The pipe is a fascinating souvenir of the First World War for L/Cpl Peacock made intricate carvings on its surface.
These include a depiction of the Regiment's cap badge, including the words "Princess Alexandra" and "The Yorkshire Regiment" and two
Elsewhere he has carved the names of places in which he must have served "France Somme 1916", "Belgium Ypres 1917" and
curiously "Italy 1918".
Some press reports have fancifully imagined him carving this piece in between fighting in the trenches, but the fineness of the work and
the inclusion of Italy 1918 suggests that he probably created it after the War was over with precision chisels.
Some details of his work
are shown in the picture below.
In the photograph, Left, L/Cpl Peacock is the man standing as is clearly shown by the Yorkshire Regiment cap badge,
The one seated is his younger brother, George William Peacock, who served in the
1st Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. He was killed, aged just 21, at the end of the Battle of Cambrai as the War was coming to an
end on the 10th October 1918. He is buried at Naves Communal Cemetery near Cambrai.
In the lower photograph, in which you can just make out the Yorshire Regiment badge on his lapel, L/Cpl Peacock is pictured in civvies with
his cousin, Drummer Anthony Willis Peacock of the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. He died, age 23 on the 10th October 1918 and is
buried at Le Cateau Military Cemetery.
What a grim coincidence for the family that these two young lads died on the same day so close to the end of the War.
L/Cpl Christopher Peacock MM. was born in 1895. His younger sister wrote of him -
'Chris was a very good son. He worked hard in Acklam Steel Works [Middlesbrough] and when in 1914 war broke out he went in the army and
was away for nearly three years. When he was invalided out, he had a body full of that dreadful gas which was used in the 1914-18 war.
Dear Willie (he was my pal) was killed in France just before that dreadful war ended.'
L/Cpl Peacock's Battalion number was 1941 and, as his medal card below shows, he went to France on the 18th April 1915, when the 1/4th Battalion first
crossed the Channel. It is almost certain that like the rest of these lads he had joined the Territorial Force before the War started and
was a member of A or B Middlesbrough Companies.
Like the rest he volunteered for duty overseas when War was declared and went through the
hell of the Second Battle of Ypres.|
The London Gazette announced his award of the Military Medal on the 8th December 1916.
It is not known for what specific action of bravery
he was awarded the MM, but it took some months before the award was gazetted, so it was likely during the Battalion actions on the Somme
which began in September 1916.
He was given the new number of 200333 when the whole Army was re-numbered in March 1917 and presumably could have served through the
terrible losses at Arras in April and May.
As his pipe shows he was at the Third Battle of Ypres [Passchendaele] in late 1917.
It may have been here that he was gassed and as his sister stated "invalided out", but this is just surmise.
This "blighty one" at whatever time probably saved his life, as the Battalion suffered extreme losses in the Spring of 1918, back on the Somme in March and on
the Lys in April, which meant a virtual replacement of personnel, who themselves were killed or captured on the Aisne in May 1918.
The fact that he engraved "Italy 1918" is yet a mystery. It seems he must have recovered from his gassing and rejoined, but the 1/4th Yorks
had been disbanded as a fighting Unit in June 1918.
Perhaps he was transferred to the 8th or 9th Service Battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment who served in the 23rd Division in Italy.
L/Cpl Peacock survived the War and married in 1923. In 1931 he lost his wife and was left with two little girls to bring up.
He re-married and died at the age of 53 in 1949 of a second stroke. No doubt his life was shortened by his earlier War sufferings.
The Military Medal.
Detail of Carved Briar Pipe.