14th May 1917 – 14th May 2017
The Reverend The Honourable MAURICE BERKELEY PEEL, M.C. (with Bar)
VICAR OF TAMWORTH, 1915-1917
Killed whilst serving as a military chaplain tending to the wounded on the battlefield.
The Peel Society held a service at Tamworth Parish Church on today (Sunday, 14th May 2017) for this brave Tamworth vicar who twice won the Military Cross. The National Chairman of the Royal British Legion, the Chaplain General, the Bishop of St Albans, & representatives from Maurice’s family, school, regiments, & parishes attended.
Maurice’s grand-daughter & great granddaughter Julia Longe & Ruth Peel.#
The commemorative service with the Bishop of St Albans.#
The Vacant Chair – with Peel Society wreath at the Maurice Peel Memorial Window.#
Unlike his father, Arthur Wellesley Peel, and his grandfather Sir Robert Peel II, he decided not to embark on a political career and chose the church as a vocation. Peel was married in 1909 and enlisted as a chaplain at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, where he was assigned to the 7th Division.
Within six months of enlisting, he had received the Military Cross at Festubert as he went ‘over the top’ with the men from the 1st Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers, so that he could tend to the wounded and comfort the dying on the battlefield. Accounts from the time speak of Peel carrying a walking stick and a bible as he advanced with the first wave across No Man’s Land.
Despite his valiant efforts for his country, he was shot several times by German machine gun fire and was evacuated back to England for treatment. After recovering from his wounds, he left the army and became a vicar in Tamworth.
Peel returned to active service though, in 1917, with the 1st Royal Welch Fusiliers, he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross for further acts of bravery. As the Fusiliers fought a bitter battle for control of Bullecourt in May 1917, Peel was crawling among the ruins of the devastated village, clutching a Bible as he searched for the wounded and dead from his regiment. It was while he was carrying a wounded man near to the ruins of Bullecourt church that he was shot in the abdomen by a German sniper and died of his wounds.
# These photographs:- Susan Biggs.