Bernhard Julius Pfleiderer was born in Norwood, South London on 4th June 1887. He was one of seven children, and the fourth son, of German parents Anna Pfleiderer [née Pfeilstiker] and her husband Paul Adolf Pfleiderer, who was a Civil Engineer by profession and who died in Jamaica in 1903. Both of Bernhard’s sisters died in the year of their birth, 1878 & 1883 respectively.

During his education at Wellington College1 at the turn of the 20th Century, Bernhard lived for part of the time with his family who were in residence at ‘Hillcrest’, situated at the junction of Constitution Hill and Albert Road, opposite the former ‘Windsor House’. His younger brother Rudolf Albright Pfleiderer, who also attended the College, became an engineer like his brother and for a time the two both worked and lived in Rugby.

In 1912 Bernhard joined the firm of Werner, Pfleiderer and Perkins and on 23rd September 1914 he married Gertrude Helen Ihlee in Peterborough. Although his occupation, and the qualifications he possessed, placed him in a ‘reserved occupation’ he insisted on serving his country and using his particular skills enlisted in the Royal Marines [Divisional Engineers]2 three days later on 26th September in London as Sapper #286, B J Pfleiderer from where he was posted to the Royal Marine Base at Deal, in Kent.

However, anti-German sentiments were rising at this time and those with Germanic sounding family names were finding themselves subject to increased hostility from so called ‘friends’ and strangers alike. Consequently the English branch of the family decided that a name change was required and on the 23rd October 1914 anglicised versions were recorded by deed poll and so Bernhard Julius Pfleiderer became Bernard Julius Pelham. [He is the only former OW to serve in WW1 who had extended family on the opposing side.]

On 23rd January 1915, his skills having been recognised, Bernard was promoted to Acting Sergeant and then three months later on 30th April 1915 he was discharged to a commission as a Temporary Lieutenant.

For some unknown reason various members of the ‘Pelham’ family decided to make a further amendment to their family name on 4th December 1915 when it was formally changed once again by deed poll to ‘Pelmore3. Not long after this change his elder brother, Kenneth Pelmore [aka Werner Eugen Kurt Pfleiderer] died and so Bernard was appointed as a director of the firm, taking the place of his deceased brother.

On 8th December 1916 Lieutenant Pelmore was in France where he joined No.1 Field Company, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division at their forward location of Hiermont, 15 miles north-east of Abbeville where he was put in charge of working party’s dealing with the setting up of the barbed wiring of trenches.

In January 1917 Bernard took over command of an area known colloquially as ‘Lancashire Dump’ and the adjacent saw mills where he also established a large ammunition store. The following month the unit was re-designated as 247 Field Company, Corps of Royal Engineers and Bernard was given the rank of First-Lieutenant, with seniority dating back to 2nd June 1915. On 20th February 1917 he was temporarily assigned to No.248 Field Company, together with a sapper, as replacements for another officer and sapper who had returned to their parent unit.

On Wednesday 18th July 1917 First Lieutenant Bernard Julius Pelmore, No.247 Field Company, Corps of Royal Engineers, was killed in action near Arras, probably as a result of enemy shell fire and was subsequently buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery, France. He was 30 years old and left a young widow.

His younger brother, and former OW Rudolph Albright Pelmore, was involved in marine engineering work for the Royal Navy during the War in a civilian role and he died in 1934 aged 46.

1. Contemporaries from his time at Wellington at the time of the 1901 census and who died in the War can be found in Appendix 1.

2. Royal Marine [Div Engineers] were within The Royal Naval Division which was formally transferred to the War Office from Admiralty control on 29th April 1916 and re-designated as 63rd (Royal Naval) Division on 19th July 1916.

3. Some family members retained the name of ‘Pelham’.

See also the Imperial War Museum permanent digital memorial to the ‘Lives of the First World War’ for BJ Pelmore.