KINGSLEY ROBERT PEARSE, Class of 1946
Born November 29, 1924 in Greenville, SC to Kingsley H. and Marjorie Johnson Pearse, “Bobby” graduated from Greenville High School. He was a member of the Greenville chapter of DeMolay, a leadership fraternity for young men age 12 to 21. He attended Furman University where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity before transferring to The Citadel. Inducted March 26, 1944, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Pearse received his basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida and arrived overseas in October 1944.
In early November 1944, the 100th Infantry Division relieved the 45th Infantry Division, which had spent 80 days in the line.
The regimental history recounts the events of 11 through 16 November…
“We readied ourselves for the jump off which was part of the Seventh Army’s gigantic winter offensive to break through the Vosges Mountains, known to be strongly defended by the Wehrmacht. What we had learned in two years was to meet its test on November 12th the First Battalion attacked at 0900, Company A on the left (North), Company C on the right (South), and Company B in reserve. At the same time, the Second Battalion struck out with Company F on the left, Company G on the right, and Company E in reserve. As we crossed the line of departure at 0900 gripping our rifles tensely, everything was quiet. Company A crossed a stretch of open terrain about I 00 yards deep and started up a steep hill. Now came the baptism! The “wumpff” and “crunch” that were enemy mortars and the whistling of the 88s soon came to be as familiar a sound as the motor of a car.
The two attacking Battalions encountered small arms fire and suffered casualties primarily from artillery. The Third Battalion was in a regimental reserve position. We found that the enemy had the distinct advantage of terrain, which hindered our advance along the Bertrichamps – Veney Road. We had the newborn pleasure of realizing that the enemy was suffering more casualties than we. Our big current mission was to seize the communication center of Raon L’Etape, which was a heavily fortified position on the banks of the Meurthe River with high ground around the town affording commanding terrain for miles.
It was a rough, tough, unholy baptism for a green outfit. The enemy was not only well dug in but held the favorable ground while we had to struggle foot by foot through rough wooded area beleaguered by plenty of rain and mud to make the task even more difficult and oftimes seemingly impossible.”
It was during this time, on November 14, 1944, while serving with K company, 3d Battalion, 397th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division during combat operation in the Vosges mountains, that PFC Pearse became a casualty, initially reported as missing in action, and later confirmed as killed in action. He was buried in the temporary U.S. Military Cemetery at Epinal, France and following the war at the request of his family, permanently interred in Plot B, Row 7, Grave 31, where he rests in peace today.
He was nineteen years old.
The Bobby Pearse Community Center in Greenville, South Carolina is named in his honor.