Edmund Perring was born in July 1892 in the urban district of Edmonton (UK) to Joseph Perring (my 4th Great Uncle) and Sarah Elizabeth Oliphant, making him my first cousin four times removed. Sarah is listed in 1881 census as a servant, specifically a domestic nursemaid to the children of the middle-class Pallett family of Edmonton. She was 16 at the time. Two years later, she married Joseph Perring who I will write more about in a future post. Together they had thirteen children, the fifth of which was Edmund.
In the 1911 census, Edmund is listed as living with his family and working as a “carman” or someone who drives goods for a business. There is no other mention of him in any of the records I have found until his military service papers where his trade or calling is listed as a “bender of sheet metal.”
His military papers also reveal that he had been conscripted into the British Expeditionary Force under the Military Service Act (MSA) of 1916. Under this legislation, every British male subject (not including those living in the Dominions such as Canada) who, on 15 August 1915, was ordinarily resident in Great Britain, had attained the age of 19 but was not yet 41, and, on 2 November 1915, was unmarried or a widower without dependent children, was deemed to have enlisted. This was effective Thursday 2 March 1916. There were a series of exemptions that applied to this, but none of of these applied to Edmund, and on November 10, 1916, he was “called up” to begin his service. He was 24 years old.
Portion of Edmund Perring’s Service Paper upon being “called up.”
He was initially assigned to the the Gloucester Regiment, and served the duration of 1916 and all of 1917, and the first part of 1918 on home soil. In January 1917, he was assigned to the 17th Battalion which was formed 1 January 1917 from what had previously been the 82nd Provisional Battalion of the Territorial Force. It is difficult to say what filled Edmund’s days during this time; the only clear point in his service record was that he was punished for “being asleep whilst on duty” on March 30, 1918.
Whatever was occupying him with the unit, he must have had some time for considering personal matters as on April 28, 1918, he married Amelia Groves in St. Peter’s church in Edmonton.
On June 10, 1918, he was one of 160 men from the 17th Gloucester transferred to the newly formed 33rd Battalion of the London Regiment. They embarked for France on July 3rd. The summer was spent training and working behind the lines before the battalion was moved with the rest of the 14th Division to Belgium in late August to take part in what would be some of the final battles of the war. That said, for better or worse, Edmund did not take part in these battles. Prior to the battalion being sent to Belgium, Edmund was treated by a field ambulance unit then admitted to hospital with diarrhea on August 24, 1918, four days before his battalion was moved. He remained in hospital or at convalescent depots for over two months, not returning to his unit until the 29th day of November–18 days after armistice.
The remainder of 1918 and the first part of 1919 were spent in Northern France engaging in ceremonial drills, physical training, recreational games, and educational opportunities for the men as, bit by bit, parts of the battalion were demobilized. On March 16, 1919 Edmund was one of 120 men who left the unit by train to be transferred to the 2/17 Battalion of the London Regiment in Boulogne on the western coast of France. In November he returned to England for demobilization.
Edmund and Amelia went on to have two sons, Edmund Henry (born 1924) and Alfred (born 1926). Alfred did not live to see his first birthday, passing away early in 1927. Although Edmund Henry lived to adulthood, he died in 1953 at the age of 29, with the National Probate calendar stating that the administration of his estate was left to “Edmund Alfred Perring, sports groundsman.” Edmund and Amelia outlived both of their children. Edmund died three years later, still living in Edmonton, UK. His wife lived another 14 years, passing away in 1970.
Like many of the men I will profile over this year, Edmund was not the only member of his family to serve. Next week I will profile his brother, Alfred Charles Perring, whose journey in the war was quite different than his brother’s.