Remembering the First World War heroics of former Berkhamsted student

Major General George Pearkes
Major General George Pearkes

A First World War hero was honoured on Monday, when a commemorative paving slab was laid to remember Major General George Pearkes.

The event celebrated the 100th anniversary of Major General Pearkes being awarded the Victoria Cross.

Major General George Pearkes plaque ceremony

Major General George Pearkes plaque ceremony

The former Berkhamsted School student was recognised for leading attacks on the German lines on October 30-31, 1917.

He won plaudits for his conspicuous bravery and skilful handling of the troops under his command, despite having been wounded.

Major General Pearkes was born in 1888 in Watford, which is where the slab was laid in his memory. He subsequently emigrated to Canada and joined the Royal Mounted Police.

In 1915 he enlisted as a private in the Canadian Mounted Rifles, and returned to Europe to fight in the First World War.

By 1917 he was leading a Canadian unit in the Battle of Passchendaele, where his heroics earned the highest award of the United Kingdom honours system.

After the war, Major General Pearkes returned to Canada and continued his military career. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to Europe as a Brigadier in command of a Canadian Infantry Brigade.

He retired from the army in 1945 and went into politics, ultimately becoming Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.