Pearkes, George Randolph.

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Pearkes, George Randolph, the oldest child of Louise, born Blair and George Pearkes Sr, born on 26-02-1888 in Watford, Hertfordshire, England.  His father was a partner in the family department store in Watford, and young George Randolph enjoyed a comfortable childhood with his younger brother Edward and his sister Hilda. George was married with Constance Blytha, born, Copeman Pearkes who died 25-08-1995 (age 93) in Vancouver, Greater Vancouver Regional District, British Columbia, Canada. The couple had one daughter, Priscilla Edith “Pep” Pearkes ( 1928–1935).

In 1906, he and his brother emigrated to Alberta, Canada, where they settled near Red Deer. In 1911, George joined the Royal North-West Mounted Police  and served in Yukon until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 in 1906 and joined the Royal North West Mounted Police.  In 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, later rising to command the 5th Canadian ounted Rifles.

 . During the first war, George was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Aside from the VC, Pearkes was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the Military Cross (MC).

Following the First World War he became a career officer in the army, and went to England in April 1919 to attend the Staff College, Camberley, for the first post-war course there. Among his fellow students there were Major General Ronald Okeden Alexander  , (07-08-1888/ 28-07-1949). Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg,   Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Field Marshal John Gort   and Major General Percy Hobart, also known as “Hobo”, was a British military engineer noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during the Second World War. Hobart was responsible for many of the specialised armoured vehicles (“Hobart’s Funnies”)  that took part in the invasion of Normandy and later actions.they   all of whom would rise to high rank, as would Field Marshal John Dill,

one of the instructors. From 1938 to 1940 he was District Officer Commanding 13th Military District in Calgary. With the opening of hostilities with Germany in the Second World War, Brigadier Pearkes was given command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, a component of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, which comprised a number of units raised in western Canada.

In December 1939, Pearkes, by then age 51, and his staff left for England where the 1st Division, commanded by Major General Andrew McNaughton

, McNaughton, Andrew George Latta was finally concentrated in a single place as a formation. In February 1940 he developed a serious case of spinal meningitis and it was feared that he might die, with the situation becoming so serious that his wife and son were sent to England from Canada. Miraculously, however, he managed to recover and, in fact, met his wife and son upon their arrival.

From left to right: Major-General George Pearkes, VC and C. D. Howe, during memorial service for General James Wolfe, 01-01-1941

In July 1940, after the surrender of France, Pearkes succeeded McNaughton in command of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. In November 1941 Pearkes was asked to assume temporary command of the expanding Canadian Corps, taking the place of McNaughton who was on an extended leave. Lieutenant-General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery of the British Army, whose opinions of Canadian officers were crucial in the careers of senior officers overseas in the mid-war period, said Pearkes was a “gallant soldier” albeit one who, in his opinion, possessed, “little brains.”

In August 1942 Pearkes was returned to Canada and became General Officer Commanding in Chief Pacific Command, primarily a home defence organization for western Canada. Pearkes oversaw defences on Canada’s West Coast.

In 1943 Pearkes was part of the planning for Operation Greenlight, retaking the Aleutian Islands from the Japanese. The Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, talking with Major-General George Pearkes during a visit to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, 26-08-1941

In 1944, Pearkes was instrumental in suppressing the Terrace Mutiny, a revolt by conscripts stationed in Terrace, British Columbia, resulting from the announcement that conscripts would be deployed overseas. Although successful, Pearkes was extremely critical of the actions that led to it in the first place, stating he had been placed in the “intolerable position of being ordered to enforce a policy which his past experience gained in applying similar policies has proven ruinous to discipline of [troops], and of being in an utterly dishonourable position, and [Pearkes said] that he will NOT issue instructions to his [junior commanders] placing them in an impossible situation.”

When it became clear that the government was not considering deploying troops for the fighting in the Pacific, Pearkes requested a change of command, or to be allowed to retire. The Cabinet War Committee eventually decided on the latter, and he retired from the Army in February 1945. He went into federal politics, winning the Nanaimo, British Columbia, riding for the Progressive Conservative Party.

In the 1945 federal election, he was elected as a Progressive Conservative Party candidate in the riding of Nanaimo, British Columbia. He was re-elected in 1949. In the 1953 election, he was elected in the riding of Esquimalt—Saanich, British Columbia. He was re-elected in the 1957 and 1958 elections.

He was Minister of National Defence from 1957 to 1960 under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. In 1958, Pearkes recommended that the Avro Arrow programme be cancelled. In a historic turning point for Canadian aviation, the costly programme was cancelled in 1959 in favour of a less costly reliance on missile defense with NORAD. He resigned from federal politics in 1960.

Death and burial ground of Pearkes, George Randolph.


He became Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia on 13-10-1960, and became one of the few Lieutenant Governors to agree to an extended term, serving until July 1968.

In 1967, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Pearkes died on 30-05-1984, in Victoria, British Columbia, and is commemorated at the Holy Trinity Cemetery, West Saanich, Sidney, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Section 4 – West. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

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