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Edward Richard Peachey

Gunner 901295 Edward Richard Peachey, B Battery, 165th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

 

Edward was born in Sydmonton, Hampshire, in 1889, the second child of Richard Peachey and his wife Julia Frances (née Greep). Richard, like his father before him, was a gamekeeper on the Sydmonton Court Estate (currently the home of Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber).

 

In 1906 Richard and Julia moved to Wash Common, then a rural part of Newbury, which was soon to see extensive development to the south of Essex Street. Street directories of the time do not list this road as Essex Street – just ‘Road west to Enborne’. R Peachy can be found occupying a cottage to the west end of this nascent street (now 57 Essex Street), running the Wash Common Dairy. It seems that Richard had ambitions beyond gamekeeping wanting to be his own boss.  They rented the property, which included a long garden behind it - on which the houses forming the east side of Battle Road were built. A few years later, in 1912, the family moved again, to Corporation Farm on the other side of Wash Common, adding farming to the dairy business. 

 

After finishing his schooling Edward went into domestic service and, by 1911, he had become a chauffeur, though still, it appears, living with his parents. Presumably he worked for a well-to-do Wash Common resident (there were a number of them). On 25 November 1914 Edward, still working as a chauffeur, married Florence Rose Robinson at St Luke’s church, Chelsea; in the marriage register he gave his address as 54 Ovington Street in Chelsea – the same address as Florence.

 

When war arrived in 1914 Edward did not rush to join his brothers in the service of his country. A list of local men serving their country published in the local paper in December 1916 has Wilfred and Arthur Peachey, but not Edward - however, he had moved away and may have been omitted for that reason. In 1915 his wife gave birth to their first child, Edward William Aidan Peachey in Sussex and in 1917 a second son, Gerald R Peachey arrived.

 

He eventually enlisted in Hove, Sussex, research based on his army number suggests a date in late 1915, early 1916, so he may have attested under the Derby Scheme – sadly his service record was destroyed in WW2 and no other record has been found to show exactly when he donned the khaki uniform. Edward served with the Royal Field Artillery, in their territorial force. Sometime in 1917/1918 he found himself in B battery of their 165th (CLV) Brigade in France.

 

The Field Artillery offered close support to their infantry colleagues, moving rapidly forward behind the infantry should they advance any distance.  In the latter half of 1918 the whole British Expeditionary Force (the British Army in France and Flanders) was advancing towards Germany having broken the German armies, which could do nothing to halt the Allied advance.  However, the Germans could still fight rearguard actions and, despite the successes of the Allies they still suffered casualties. Edward died in a military hospital at Ana Jana Siding on 28 October 1918. It is not known whether he died of wounds, as the result of an accident or of 'natural' causes - many dying at that time were victims of a devastating influenza epidemic.

 

Newbury Weekly News, 14 Nov 1918 p5 – Deaths
PEACHEY – October 28, at No 9, Red Cross Hospital, France, Gunner Edward Richard Peachey, RFA, dearly loved husband of Florence Peachey, of Hove, and second son of Richard and Julia Peachey, Wash Common, aged 29. – “Peace, perfect peace.”

 

Name on Newbury War Memorial

Edward and Wilfred's names on Newbury War Memorial (top right)

His body was buried in plot V.B. 25 at La Kreule Military Cemetery, Hazebrouck. Locally his name is remembered on Newbury Town War Memorial.

 

Edward’s eldest brother, Wilfred John Peachey served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was killed in action at the Battle of Loos, 1915.  For his story click.

 

Another brother was Arthur William Peachey, the youngest of Richard and Julia Peachey’s three children (all sons). Despite being the youngest he was the first to serve in France, arriving there in February 1915. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, which did not mean that he was out of harm’s way, though service at the general hospital at Le Havre was a pretty safe billet.  However, he did not spend all his time in Le Havre, he was certainly near enough to the action to be wounded in September 1918:

 

Newbury Weekly News, 19 Sep 1918 p8 – Local War Notes
Official news has been received that Pte Peachy, RAMC, has been recently wounded in the heavy fighting taking place on the Western Front, and is now in hospital at Birmingham. The wounded man, who is making satisfactory progress, is the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Peachey of Wash Common.

 

Arthur survived the war and raised a family in the Newbury area, finally dying in 1981, aged 89.

 

Edward’s wife, Florence, settled in Newbury, at Heatherlea, Andover Road, Wash Common, no doubt benefitting from the support of her parents-in-law. Edward and Florence’s son, Edward William Aidan Peachey, is also remembered on Newbury's Town War Memorial, losing his life on 24 April 1940 while 25 serving with the 220 squadron RAF.

 

[Thanks to Karen Newbery for her help in researching this soldier.]

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