The Pearson brothers who all signed up to fight in World War One. Joseph is at the back, Edward is front right. Their brother Sam (left) was the only one to come home from the war.
The Pearson brothers who all signed up to fight in World War One. Joseph is at the back, Edward is front right. Their brother Sam (left) was the only one to come home from the war. Contributed

Brothers in arms and brothers in the grave

A HUNDRED years ago next weekend will mark the centenary of the death of young Casino man Joseph David Pearson.

He was from a family of 14 that had already seen tragedy in the death of his older sister Caroline.

In 1901, the young woman died from a bout of pneumonia and the family felt the tragedy hard, as she was like a second mother to the ever increasing brood of children.

The only known photo of Caroline Pearson who died in 1901 from pneumonia.
The only known photo of Caroline Pearson who died in 1901 from pneumonia. Contributed

When Joseph signed up to the 10th Reinforcements, 26th Battalion he was 18 years old, not wanting to wait any longer to join the cause, as his friends had done before him.

"Tell mother I wish to go to the war after I am 18, as I cannot stand it any longer,” he wrote to his sister Alice.

"A lot of my mates have gone, and it looks so selfish for me to stand off.

"Moreover, conscription is going to come into force before long, and I don't want to be one of the wasters and shirkers, who have to be forced to fight for freedom, honor, and the cause of righteousness.”

He joined a month after his brother Edward did and eventually headed overseas.

Standing just over five feet and two inches and weighing only eight stone and one pound, his looks belied his age and it can only be imagined how his parents felt seeing their young man head off to war.

Despite the encouragement, parental pride and well wishes of a safe return, Joseph never made it back home.

He was killed in France and despite his parents William and Anne's best efforts to find out where he was buried, his final resting place remains a mystery, according to the war office.

"I regret to state that no information has been received..regarding burials,” the Australian wrote back to Joseph's parents when they asked for photos of the grave of he and his brother Edward who had also been killed two years later.

While they are both remembered at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France by the Commowealth War Graves commission, the family chose to remember them their own way.

A list of Joseph's belongings were made and sent home to his father at Greenridge.

They included a pipe, a pocket knife, a sleeve link, a pencil case and a damaged metal wrist watch.

The headstone over the grave that only has the body of older sister Caroline, as the two boys were killed in France and their whereabouts is unknown.
The headstone over the grave that only has the body of older sister Caroline, as the two boys were killed in France and their whereabouts is unknown. Contributed

The names of Joseph David and Edward Walter are engraved on the headstone of their sister Caroline who had died at the turn of the century and is buried in Casino cemetery.

References

  • Family research and documents, Greg Watson (great nephew)
  • War records of Joseph David Pearson and Edward Walter Pearson, National Archives of Australia


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