Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Died: 12 November 1914
East Budleigh Memorial Cross, East Budleigh Memorial Tablet
Other Memorial: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial; Lord’s; Charterhouse School [Google]
PDF Download: PEPYS Francis
Francis was born in Budleigh Salterton on 2 April 1891 to Captain Arthur and Margaret Pepys. The 1891 census tells us that they were living at Stoneborough House, but by 1893 they had moved to Knowle House.
Francis, like his older brother John, attended Charterhouse School. He was in the Cricket XI and left school in 1909.
He joined the Special Reserve and, in 1911, was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He was in barracks at Pewsey with his regiment at the time of the 1911 census, along with Captain Walter Meredith Goodwyn. The Pepys family had rented the Goodwyn’s family home, Stoneborough House when they first arrived in Budleigh Salterton. The house is now a bed & breakfast.
Records indicate he turned out for Devon in the 1912 Minor Counties Championship in 1912
Francis was gazetted to the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry in May 1913 and went with them to France on 13 August 1914. He was involved in the retreat from Mons and the battles of the Marne and Aisne.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) when, on 3 November, he advanced from his trench and assisted in driving away a party of the enemy digging a trench within 30 yards of his own. Thirty of the enemy were killed.
He helped repulse an attack by the Prussian Guards at Ypres on 11 November but was killed in action the following day when a shell burst as he stepped out of his trench. Posthumously, he was mentioned in a despatch from Field Marshall Sir John French, commander in chief of the British armies in France and Belguim, on 15 January 1915.
He is remembered with honour on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. A member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) he is also remembered on the memorial to the fallen of the Great War at Lord’s cricket ground; as well as at Charterhouse School, and on the memorials at East Budleigh.
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