Light Infantry soldier in South African War

Photo of Thomas Pendrey

Thomas Pendrey was my Great grandfather. He was born 31 Mar 1864 and died 24 Jan 1948. Thomas served in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry twice – once from 21 Nov 1914 to 17 Apr 1916 during the First World War, but prior to that from 1888 to 1901. He served in the 2nd Battalion in the South African war and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Paardeberg, Driefontein, and Relief of Kimberly. Thomas was 5ft 5ins with blue eyes and light brown hair. Many of his children were baptised at the Chapel in Bodmin Keep in Cornwall.

In The Western Daily Press of 12 Apr 1900, a Private G. H . Bethley, 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, wrote from Paardeberg to his wife. Thomas would have been with him at this time. Here is what Private Bethley had to say:

When we were going on the battlefield the colonel halted us and told us where the enemy was, and offered a five-pound note to the first man who put a bayonet through a Boer when we did charge. We crossed the river up to our waists under fire, linking hands, as it ran very swiftly in mid-stream. The colonel was shot dead, and also two captains, and then we charged. The battlefield was strewn with dead and wounded. We had nothing to eat all day and all night, and were wet through, tired, and hungry, and had to go on outpost duty. No hot coffee; no rum.

The origins of Thomas are a mystery. On enlistment in the Army he stated he was born in the Parish of St. John’s near the town of Worcester, Worcestershire. On the 1891 Census he is listed as being born in Nottingham. On the 1901 Census he is listed as being born in Worcester, Malvern and on the 1911 Census as born in Worcester. From his army records we know his father was Thomas and he had a brother named George. To date, nothing further has been found.

Thomas Pendrey married Maud Mary Mattock on 24 Dec 1890 in Pembroke Dock, Wales and they had eight children. At the time of marriage, Thomas was a Private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry living at Hut Encampment, Pembroke Dock. His father, shown as Thomas, was deceased. They were married in the register office office.

See Thomas Pendrey on Lives of the First World War.

Thomas Pendrey Signature

Signature from 1911 Census. 

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