Touching tribute paid to distinguished Second World War veteran

Supplied photographs of war veteran Peter Pearce who survived a total of 30 missions flying a Lancas

Supplied photographs of war veteran Peter Pearce who survived a total of 30 missions flying a Lancaster. Peter at a school showing pupils his medals. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A veteran who survived 30 missions flying Lancasters in the Second World War, has died aged 94.

Peter with his Lancaster sqaudron. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family

Peter with his Lancaster sqaudron. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family - Credit: Nick Butcher

Peter John Pearce of Halesworth, joined the RAF aged 19 as part of the 622 Squadron of Bomber Command.

He was born in Leytonstone and educated at the notable Forest School, and after leaving school he followed in his father's footsteps working in a bank before being called up.

He was sent to John College in Cambridge before going to Rhodesia, one of the Empire countries where the airspace was safer for aircrew to be trained, and returned with the rank of a sergeant air gunner ready for operational duties.

He flew a total of 30 missions, and on one occasion had to return to the base after his hand became trapped in the mechanism of one of the guns. The gun had to be cut from him in the station armoury and he was grounded for the next mission when his aircraft failed to return.

Peter Pearce aged 19. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family

Peter Pearce aged 19. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family - Credit: Nick Butcher

During the extremely hazardous period of his service he was promoted to Flt Sergeant when he received the Distinguished Flying Medal with a letter from Buckingham Palace signed by King George VI, and by the time he was demobilised he had been promoted to Warrant Officer.

After the war he trained as a dental surgeon in London and met his wife Rene, who was a school teacher, at the local hockey club.

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After working at his practice in Epping and with three growing children, they decided to move to Norfolk, before settling in Halesworth 17 years ago.

Together the couple became active members of the golf club and Mr Pearce joined the local branch of the Royal British Legion and the Probus Club.

Peter Pearce pictured later in life on the beach.PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family

Peter Pearce pictured later in life on the beach.PHOTO: Courtesy of the Pearce family - Credit: Nick Butcher

His wife said: 'He made me laugh from the moment I met him. He was kind, he was funny and he was a Frank Spencer unintentionally.

'He was the sort of person that everyone liked, and I never heard him say a bad word about anyone else. When we first met he didn't say much about his time in the air force, but later on he talked to the children about it and he visited local schools with the Legion to talk about it and show his medals.'

The final few months of his life were spent at the Priory Paddocks Nursing Home in Darsham and it was in July this year when he received his final award from the French Ambassador telling him that the President of the Republic had appointed him to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Legion d'Honneur.

A congratulatory letter stated 'the high honour of this award was in recognition of your military engagement and steadfast involvement in the Liberation of France during the Second World War.'

Peter Pearce's collection of photographs, medals and log books. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Peter Pearce's collection of photographs, medals and log books. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mr Pearce died on November 11, and his funeral was held at Holton St Peter's Church on December 7. A guard of honour was provided by members of the Royal British Legion and the coffin was draped with the Union Flag.

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