Lieut.-Colonel John Henry PELLY (3581)
Commanded the Depot Worcestershire Regiment from November 1929 to November 1932.
Commanded the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from November 1933 to November 1937.
John Henry Pelly was born on 20th August 1886, and entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in 1905. He represented Sandhurst v. the R.M.A., Woolwich, at football, and although he was a fairly regular member of the cricket and athletic teams, he did not get his colours.
In October 1906, he was gazetted 2nd-Lieutenant to the Worcestershire Regiment and was posted to the 3rd Battalion. He actually played football for the battalion, who were runners-up in the Aldershot Command League, before joining. It is interesting to note that there were no less than five officers in that team. Besides himself there were Nesbitt, Hughes, Traill and Johnston. He was also a member of the battalion hockey team. When the King of Spain visited England and a military review was given for him, Pelly carried the King's Colour.
In 1907 the Zulus were still fractious, and the 3rd Battalion were sent to South Africa in the old Braemar Castle. Landing at Durban, Pelly went with the M.I. (Mounted Infantry) Company to Standerton, Transvaal, to join the VI M.I. It was there that he started his polo under the guidance of Ritson. When the M.I. were disbanded he re-joined the Battalion at Wynberg, Cape Colony, where he distinguished himself at football and athletics, winning the Battalion 100 and 220 yards from Colour-Sergt. Crowe, who was later to win the Victoria Cross in the Great War.
He returned to Dover with the Battalion in the Avondale Castle in November 1908. The battalion landed at Dover and was given a civic reception. They went to South Front Barracks. Pelly played in an Army Football Trial for the Eastern Command v. London District.
Lieut.-Colonel J. H. Pelly
Shortly afterwards he volunteered for service in India and was posted to the 4th Battalion at Bareilly. Before he joined his new battalion he was to take a draft of the Royal Irish Rifles to Maymyo, Burmah. India gave him the chance to show what an all-round sportsman he was. He did a lot of shooting, both big-game and shot-gun. He was keen on polo and pig-sticking. He excelled at football, cricket, hockey, racquets, tennis and boxing. He was a member of the battalion team which reached the finals of the All-India Hockey in two successive years. He also managed to find time to win several small sailing races at Naini Tal. Two of his ponies won him 1st and 2nd places in a steeplechase, Captain Kerans beating him on the post on a mount he had given him. He had a terrific boxing match, a six round affair, with 2nd/Lieutenant Bush, which raised a bumper gate. He won on points after an extra round. He learnt his shikar from Tanner, who was later to command the Royal Scots. He was present at the Coronation Durbar of King George V at Delhi, the battalion lining the streets outside the Jumna Musjid. He was promoted Lieutenant in December, 1909.
In April, 1912, he was seconded to the Gold Coast Regiment, W.A.F.F., and was stationed at Coomassie and Sunyani. He was A.D.C. to the Governor of the Gold Coast for one year. It was about this time that he began to cultivate the slow bowling that was to bring many wickets to his bag. The natives loved fast bowling and it was to their despair when they discovered that the slow stuff tied them up in knots.
At the outbreak of the Great War he was commanding the Accra Company of the Gold Coast Regiment with which he served in West and East Africa. After the conquest of Togoland he was for a short time Military Governor of that country. He was promoted Captain in February 1915, and was acting Major from July 1917, to June 1918. While the Gold Coast Regiment was in East Africa he was Adjutant. During that time he had served in British, German and Portuguese East Africa. He joined the 1st Battalion in France in October 1918.
In March 1919, he was seconded to the Egyptian Army and was appointed Political Officer Bor on the Nile in Mongalla Province. During this time he took part in the Alijab Dinka Patrol (Soudan G.S. Medal).
He joined the 2nd Battalion in Dublin in February, 1920. The same year he won the Battalion Individual Athletic Championship and captained the battalion football team.
In June 1921, he married Dorothy Gladys, daughter of Dr. J. P. Gabb, of Guildford.
In January 1922, the battalion moved to Dover. He had been appointed Adjutant the previous month. In 1925 he won the Dover Garrison Golf Championship. The same year he was promoted Major.
The battalion moved to the Rhine in 1926, being stationed near Wiesbaden and later at Bingen and Shierstein. Here he captained the battalion cricket team with great success, making a record score of 230 not out against the Leicestershire Regiment, following it up by scoring 128 against the Royal Berkshires in the next round of the Rhine Army Cricket Cup. His batting average for that season was 108. In 1928 he won the Officers' Rifle Championship. In November of the same year the battalion moved to Plymouth. He commanded the Regimental Depot at Worcester from November 1929, to November 1932, when he joined the 1st Battalion at Plymouth.
He joined the 2nd Battalion in Malta in July 1933, prior to taking over command. In September the battalion sailed for Shanghai. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in November, 1933. The battalion moved to Tientsin, North China, in November 1934, and from there to Sialkot, India, in November, 1936. He relinquished command in November 1937.
He was extremely active to the end of his service. In Shanghai he won the Veterans' Squash Rackets Championship and he represented Tientsin v. Peking in the Inter-Port Polo match. In the Sialkot Tennis Tournament he won the Veterans' Singles, and, with his partners, the Mixed Open Doubles and the Men's Handicap Doubles. He captained the Battalion cricket team against the rest of the garrison in his last match for the Regiment, which the Battalion won by the handsome margin of six wickets.
Seldom has the Regiment seen a better all-rounder, who played the game for the game's sake and was a fine example to his men on and off the field.