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  • Photo David Nunn by courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
Person Details
14 Dec 1888
Wrexham
Son of Hannah Louisa Pierce of 'Loen', Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Park, Nottingham, and the late John Pierce (CWGC). His father was a solicitor and commissioner for oaths and died before Pierce volunteered for service. Pierce's home address at the time of his death was Notintone Place, Sneinton. His younger brother, Wilfred Pierce, served in RHA. He also had three sisters, Helen Louisa, Mary and Hilda.
Educated Nottingham High School 1897-1905. Altar server at St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. (He left his possessions to the church; probate February 1919 to Helen Louisa Wright, his elder sister, effects £599 17s 6d). University College Nottingham OTC. Solicitor in his father's chambers at 22 Wheeler Gate, Nottingham.
02 Oct 1918
29
1604065 - CWGC Website
Lieutenant
53rd Sqdn Royal Air Force
Served 53rd Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps which was formed at Catterick on 15 May 1916. Originally intended to be a training squadron, it was sent to France to operate reconnaissance in December that year. The squadron was equipped with the B.E.2e—swapped for the R.E.8 in April 1917. Killed in action at Gheluwe, Belgium. Lt Pierce was the pilot of an RE8, serial number, C2742, on a Counter Attack Patrol. Leutnant K Plauth of Ja51 claimed one plane shot down over Gheluvelt and was credited with this kill (Source: 'The Sky Their Battlefield’ ). Pierce's body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. See 'Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European cultural history', Jay Winter, pp32-34, Cambridge University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-63988-0. On 2 October his plane had crash landed and the observer, Malcolm Wakeman, was wounded and died later. The plane 'had not exploded … though it was still carrying a full bomb load. Wakeman’s co-pilot, Lieutenant Basil Pierce, had been killed, and the injured man asked his parents to inform Pierce’s mother … Mrs Pierce had received initial notification only that her son was missing in action … In the weeks and months following his son’s death he [Wakeman snr] conducted a long correspondence with the mother of the co-pilot (sic) of his son’s plane, and with other bereaved parents. ‘There is such a bond of emotion between us’, wrote Mrs Pierce.’ (Source Imperial War Museum, Wakeman Papers, 67/305/1) Malcolm Wakeman, whose father was a Mancunian building materials merchant, was conscripted in 1917, joined the RAF and was commissioned as a flight observer in a two-man plane. He was posted to France on 14 July 1918. In one of his letters to his family, Malcolm wrote how, ‘His plane caught some anti-aircraft fire, and how his co-pilot had to stand on the wing with his foot in a hole to stop petrol leaking.’ Nottinghamshire Law Society’s ROH (see photograph): John Basil Pierce. Was born on the 14th December 1888, educated at the Nottingham High School, articled to his father, the late Mr John Pierce, and admitted in February 1913. When the war broke out he was unable, to his keen regret, to volunteer immediately for service owing to the serious illness of his father, who subsequently died. In the summer of 1915 he joined the OTC attached to the University College, Nottingham, under the command of Major (then Captain) Trotman, from thence he passed to the newly founded Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford and was gazetted to the Royal Flying Corps (afterwards Royal Air Force) in June 1916. For two years he was on active service in France and Belgium and was considered the finest pilot in his squadron. He was mentioned in a despatch of November 1917 for most distinguished conduct. He was killed while flying over Menin on the 2nd December 1918. His Captain wrote of him, ‘He was the keenest and most enthusiastic fellow I ever met, and would carry out successful flights in the worst weather when no one else in the squadron would think of going up.’
Nottingham Post obituary 16 October 1918. PIERCE reported missing October 2nd 1918, now reported killed. John Basil Pierce, Lieutenant RAF elder son of the late John Pierce and of Mrs Pierce of 27 Notintone Place, Nottingham Brass plaque embedded in floor close to the chancel in St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham, inscription: 'The angels round and about the altar stand there to the greater glory of God and to the dear memory of an altar server who kept the faith. John Basil Pierce, Lieut. 53rd Squadron Royal Air Force, killed in action Oct 2nd 1918 at Gheluwe in Belgium. He bequeathed his possessions to this church. May he rest in peace.' Church closed 2003 and later sold. The plaque was found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and later transferred to the Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum; the whereabouts of the altar decorations is not known.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo David Nunn by courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
    - Photo David Nunn by courtesy of Pauline Armstrong from Nottinghamshire Law Society.
  • Brass plaque from St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. Found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and now in Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum. Photograph Rachel Farrand
    John Basil Pierce - Brass plaque from St Catherine's church, St Ann's Well Road, Nottingham. Found in Nottingham General Cemetery in August 2011 and now in Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum. Photograph Rachel Farrand
  • Interior of St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, showing altar decorations. Photograph courtesy of St Mary's church, High Pavement.
    John Basil Pierce - Interior of St Catherine's Church, St Ann's Well Road, showing altar decorations. Photograph courtesy of St Mary's church, High Pavement.
  • Wills record courtesy of Simon Williams.
    John Basil Pierce - Wills record courtesy of Simon Williams.
  • From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.
    - From Nottinghamshire Law Society's Roll of Honour.
  • Memorial from St Catherine, St Ann's, Nottingham, now in Newark Air Museum. Photograph Peter Gillings (August 2017)
    John Basil Pierce - Memorial from St Catherine, St Ann's, Nottingham, now in Newark Air Museum. Photograph Peter Gillings (August 2017)