Ace of Spades: Lucky for One by Lance ‘Ginger’ Pearce



Ace of Spades – Lucky for One by Lance ‘Ginger’ Pearce

To survive for any length of time as an infantryman in the campaign in North West Europe in 1944-45, you needed a number of skills and qualities.  But, above all, you needed luck.  The title of this book refers to a recurring theme throughout it: the extraordinary run of luck that ensured the survival of Ginger Pearce from Normandy in mid-July 1944 until Bremen in early May 1945.

Ginger was a few days past his 20th birthday when he was sent with his company of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment as a reinforcement to the 4th Dorsets, who had lost almost their entire strength in their first battle near Hill 112 on 10th July.  Finding 22 men in a field, he asked where A Company was.  “We are A Company,” they replied.  They were all that survived of the 120 men who had advanced into battle on the morning of the 10th.  Thus – by accident – Ginger found he had joined the Dorset Regiment and he would remain a Dorset for the rest of his long life.

Ginger’s journey took him through the rest of the Normandy campaign, across the Seine and to Arnhem in Operation Market Garden.  His Battalion was the only infantry unit to cross the Neder-Rijn to help the beleaguered Airborne troops north of the river.  Of the 315 men of the 4th Dorsets who managed to cross the river, only 75 returned.  Ginger Pearce was one of them.

He then fought in the south of Holland, around Geilenkirchen, during the vicious winter battles in the snow, slush  and ice, before returning north to take part in Operation Veritable – the costly advance through the Reichswald Forest to the west bank of the Rhine.  Over the Rhine, the Dorsets then took part in the deadly, rapid advance across Germany to Bremen, where their war ended.  Statistically, Ginger Pearce should have been left some way behind to spend eternity lying under a white headstone in one of the countless cemeteries that line the 43rd Wessex Division’s route across Europe.  Instead, he survived to celebrate his 21st birthday in the army of occupation in Germany before wintering with the Battalion in Bari and Trieste.

Ace of Spades by Ginger Pearce is an entertaining, easy-to-read, vivid and deeply moving account of his army life was written much later and first published posthumously in 2014.  This new hardback edition is beautifully produced and a fitting memorial to a brave soldier.  It is that rarely heard voice: that of the young, junior soldier.  The story it tells is of one – singularly lucky – young man, but it describes the experience of thousands of others, most of whom did not share Ginger’s extraordinary capacity to go on beating the odds.

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Additional information

Weight 0.68 kg
Dimensions 24 × 16 × 3 cm


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