Stoker 1st Class Percy Edward Pearce1939-1945 War: Royal Navy
Died: 12 Feb 1944 Age: 36
Tower: Edmonton Society: Middlesex County Association
CWGC Grave/Memorial: Portsmouth Naval Memorial -- Panel 86, Column 1
- Casualty Number: 2658535
- Casualty Details: (Link by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
Initials written in Memorial Book as "P"
Born 21/09/1907 and baptised 17/11/1907 at St. Andrew's Enfield. Son of Mary Elizabeth Pearce of Raleigh Road, Enfield, Middlesex and the late Charles Henry Pearce (died 1928). At the time of the 1939 register he was working as a Newsagent / Tobacconist / Confectioner (Retailer). He learnt to ring at St Andrews Enfield as part of a new band taught by George Fletcher and Edith Fletcher (possibly better known as Edith K. Parker, conductor of the first ladies peal) of Edmonton. He rang his first quarter peal, ringing the tenor to Grandsire Triples at Edmonton on 11/10/1931 conducted by Edith Fletcher, and his first peal, again on the tenor and again Grandsire Triples but conducted by John Thomas. He rang another quarter peal at Edmonton on 01/04/1934, tenor once more but Stedman Triples was the method, conducted by James Parker (Edith's father). He appears in Middlesex County Association reports under St Andrew's Enfield in 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933 but appears under Edmonton in 1934 and 1935. HMS Lanka was a Naval shore establishment in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) but he was aboard the S.S. Khedive Ismail, formerly SS Aconcagua, a turbine steamship that was built in 1922 as an ocean liner, converted into a troop ship after being requisitioned in 1940. On 06/02/ 1944 Convoy KR-8 sailed from Kilindini Harbour at Mombasa, Kenya bound for Columbo, Ceylon. The convoy consisted of five troop transports (Khedive Ismail, City of Paris, Varsova, Ekma & Ellenga), escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins and the destroyers HMS Petard and HMS Paladin. In the early afternoon of Saturday 12/02/1944, the Japanese B1 type submarine I-27, commanded by Lt-Cdr Toshiaki Fukumura, attacked the convoy while south-west of the Maldives. The submarine sank the Khedive Ismail with two torpedoes. The ship was carrying 1,511 personnel including 178 crew, 996 officers and men of the East African Artillery's 301st Field Regiment, 271 Royal Navy personnel, and a detachment of 19 Wrens. Also on board were 53 nursing sisters accompanied by one matron, and 9 members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. As survivors floundered in the sea, I-27 submerged and hid beneath them. While HMS Paladin lowered boats over her side to begin rescuing survivors, HMS Petard raced in to release depth charges. The destruction of an enemy submarine that might sink more ships took precedence over the lives of the survivors. On HMS Petard’s third run, her depth charges forced I-27 to the surface. HMS Paladin rammed the submarine, in the process causing considerable damage to herself. Finally a torpedo from HMS Petard destroyed the I-27. 1,297 people, including 77 women, lost their lives in the two minutes it took for the Khedive Ismail to sink. Only 208 men and 6 women survived. The sinking was the third worst Allied shipping disaster of WW2 and the single worst loss of female service personnel in the history of the Commonwealth of Nations. Among the dead was Stoker 1st Class Pearce.