John Hugh Pierce
Date of birth: 1886
Date of death: 30.10.1918
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales’s Own)
Family information: Husband of Elizabeth Pierce nee Ferguson
Service number: 80114
On 25th March 1916 John Hugh Pierce attested for the Army at Wakefield, signing for the duration of the war. At this time he gave his home address as Lawns Lane, Carr Gate, Wakefield and that he was a coal miner and of the Wesleyan persuasion. John Hugh Pierce was initially placed to the Army Reserve, but on 17th May 1918 he was called for a medical at Wakefield. With his medical passed, John Hugh was mobilised on 31st July 1918 and posted to “A” Company, 5th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment.
On 26th October 1918 Private John Hugh Pierce was admitted to the Military Hospital at Sheburyness, Essex, suffering from the symptoms of Spanish Flu. Shortly afterwards, at 9.25pm on 30th October 1918 he died, with the cause of death being recorded as Pneumonia, Influenza.
Symptoms of Spanish Flu included a blue tint to the face and coughing up blood, due to the lungs being obstructed. In some cases the virus caused uncontrollable haemorrhaging that filled the lungs. Although most people infected with the virus recovered within a week following bed rest, some died within 24 hours of being infected. The flu was found to be most deadly amongst 20 to 40 year olds and it was suggested that soldiers were susceptible, because their immune systems had been weakened by four years of war.
John Hugh Pierce was returned to Wakefield and, on 6th November 1918, he was interred at Outwood Cemetery, after a service at St Mary Magdalene Church. However his name is not included with those remembered on either of the village war memorials.
On 2nd June 1918, when living at the council house in Kirkhamgate, his widow Elizabeth was awarded a pension for herself and four children of 33/9d per week.
John Hugh Pierce was born in 1886, the only child of John Pierce and his wife Sarah Jane, nee Jones, of Holywell, North Wales. About twelve months after the birth of John Hugh, his mother Sarah Jane Pierce died at the age of 20 years. At the time of the 1891 census John Hugh and his widowed father were at the home of his paternal grandparents, Hugh and Elizabeth Pierce, of 8, River View, Bagholt, Holywell. In 1892 his father John Pierce married Henrietta Woodman, a widow with three children. Later the extended family moved to Yorkshire, where his father obtained work in the local coal mines. In 1901 the family was living at 7, Bridge Street, Morley and John Hugh Pierce was employed as a shop-boy. Later he obtained work at a local colliery.
On 6th February 1911 John Hugh Pierce married Elizabeth Ferguson and moved to 6, Princess Avenue, Outwood. John Hugh and Elizabeth had four children, John Hugh, Robert, Doris and Edward, with all their births being registered at Wakefield.
Elizabeth, John’s widow, went on to have a further four children after his death and sadly two of her children (one being John’s son) are remembered on the War Memorial as being killed during the Second World War. Robert Pierce died in 1944 aged 31 and Albert Pierce died in 1943 aged 23.