Joseph Perring was my fourth great-uncle and the father of Edmund Alfred Perring and Alfred Charles Perring. One hundred and three years ago today, he attested to the British Expeditionary force in the Army Service Corps.
By the time he attested, his son Alfred had already been overseas with the 1st Welch Regiment for over two months. He claimed on his attestation papers to be 45 years of age.
This, it would become clear before too long, was a lie. Joseph was born in Rickling, Essex in 1862, the second youngest child of James Perring and Emma Law, who were also my 4th Great Grandparents. By the time he was 21, he had moved to Edmonton (London), and he married Sarah Elizabeth Oliphant, a domestic servant. Together, they would go onto have thirteen children, Edmund and Alfred being the 5th and 6th respectively. What possessed him to volunteer is difficult to say. He was under no obligation. Even once conscription arrived in Britain, it only applied to men under 41 years old.
Regardless, join he did, as part of the Army Service Corps which provided provisions and supplies to the troops at the front. It is unclear what part of the corps he served in, but he was in France from April to October of 1915 which included the timeframe when his son, Alfred, was wounded and eventually died of his wounds.
In October of 1915, Joseph’s lie about his age began to unravel. He ended up in hospital in France that month due to “muscular rheumatism,” and was invalided back to England. For the following several weeks he was able to perform occasional light duty, but by January of 1916, his medical status was being evaluated by the medical board. He then revealed that his true age was in fact 55, and that he had suffered from rheumatic symptoms off and on since 1902. He was discharged in February of 1916 as being no longer physically fit for war service.
He went on to live a long life, even living through the entirety of yet another world war, before passing away in Edmonton, UK in late 1949 at the age of 87.