Author details story of Beckenham chaplain who lost his life saving others in First World War
PUBLISHED: 15:33 30 March 2017
Maurice Peel, a vicar at St. Paul's Church, died at the Battle of Bullecourt
As the centenary of the First World War, Battle of Bullecourt, approaches next month, a Kent author prepares for the launch of his book detailing the story of a key Beckenham individual killed in the battle.
Paul Kendall, from Folkestone, releases his book, Bullecourt 1917: Breaching the Hindenburg Line, this April. The factual book tells stories of the fierce battles fought by three British and three Australian divisions to pierce the defences of the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt, France during the First World War.
One of the people whose story is portrayed in the book is The Reverand, Honourable Maurice Peel.
Peel was born in Hanover Square to a political family - his father was Arther Wellesley Peel, a former speaker of the House of Commons, and his grandfather Sir Robert Peel was prime minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police Force.
After marrying in 1909, Mr Peel moved to Beckenham with his new wife, and became the vicar of St. Paul’s Church.
However, his married life was shortlived, as in 1914, when the First World War began, he was immediately enlisted as a chaplain, and was assigned to the seventh division.
Mr Kendall says that just acting as a chaplain was not enough for Peel though, as he wanted to tend to the wounded first hand.
He explained: “At the Battle of Festubert on May 15 1915, Peel wanted to go over the top with the men from the first battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers so that he could tend to the wounded and comfort the dying on the battlefield.
“It was not common practice for army chaplains to advance with the men during an assault. Peel requested permission from General Gough and permission was granted.
“Peel was carrying a walking stick and a bible as he advanced with the first wave when he was shot several times by German machine gun fire.”
Following his injuried Peel was evacuated back to England and to hospital where he made a recovery.
However, his time at home was over in January 1917, when he went back to France, where he met his fate.
At the Battle of Bullecourt on May 14 1917, Peel was carrying an injuried soldier, when he was shot in the abdomen by a German sniper, and died of his wounds.
After his remains were found, Peel was buried in Quéant Road Cemetery in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France.
To pre-order Mr Kendall’s book visit amazon.co.uk/Bullecourt-1917-Breaching-Hindenburg-Line