My great-uncle had an unexpected war at home. My grandfather was too young to fight in the First World War and his father almost too old (my great-grandfather registered under Lord Derby’s scheme but was never called up). My grandfather’s older brother, known as Dick, was old enough to fight and was called up, but his war was to be very different from that which he might have expected.
Richard William Pearsall was born on 30 November 1899 in Nechells, an inner city district of Birmingham. He left elementary school at 13 and worked as a tool setter. Under the Military Service Act 1916 he was to be enlisted in HM Regular Forces on his 18th birthday, 30 November 1917. He was called up on 19 February 1918 and was passed as grade I at his medical examination in Birmingham on 18 January. He had a few minor conditions but nothing sufficient to cause rejection; the most serious being a slight inguinal hernia. However, he appears never to have been fully fit for frontline service.