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John was born in Dudley in 1886, the son of William and Lydia Pearce. In 1891 he was living with his parents at 183 Dudley Road, alongside his brothers William and George and sisters Emily and Gertrude. By 1901 they were at 42 Gordon Street and John had become a warehouse boy. John enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 8426), and he appeared with them in 1911.

John rose to become a Lance Sergeant. On 7 December 1914 he was reported as missing, and by 11 March 1916 it was reported in the Express & Star that he had been confirmed as having been killed in action. By the time of his death, his mother’s address was given as 124 Merridale Street, Penn Road, Wolverhampton. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. He may be the “J. Pearce” listed on the St Paul’s Church St Paul’s Church war memorial.