War historian Frank celebrates 100 years
ONE of the West Country's finest military historians has celebrated his 100th birthday.
Frank Pearce, a veteran of the Second World War's Arctic and Atlantic convoys, enjoyed his special day surrounded by friends and family at the Redcliffe Hotel, Paignton.
He is the author of more than 20 books, including Sea War: the Great Naval Battles of World War Two, and The Ship that Torpedoed Herself.
Frank, who lives in Brixham, has also written histories about Torbay, Paignton, Brixham and Dawlish, as well as Torquay's Marine Spa, where he worked for five years.
BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC 1.0 ECOBOOST FOR ONLY £7685*View details
1.0 100PS Manual
Electric Windows & Mirrors
Quickclear Heated Windscreen
15" Alloy Wheels
Bluetooth with Ford Sync
*Drive away from only £7685 and then pay nothing for 24 months!
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Derek Pearce, Frank's son, said: "It was a very successful birthday. He had a lot of his friends there, including BBC presenter Judi Spiers, who is an old friend.
"He's quite frail but he enjoyed it at the Redcliffe Hotel, whose staff did him proud. We couldn't have wished for a better occasion."
Frank's fine memory enables him to remember with clarity the outbreak of the Great War and the signing of the Armistice, when the guns fells silent in Europe in 1918.
Frank's Second World War service saw him serve as commander's secretary and a gunner on the Devonport-built cruiser HMS Trinidad.
In March 1942, while escorting convoy PQ13, the cruiser was attacked by units of the German Arctic Fleet.
During the battle, the ship fired her torpedoes, but because of the freezing conditions one malfunctioned, circled back and hit the cruiser amidships.
The ship was later attacked by bombers and torpedo aircraft before it eventually made it back home to Devonport, but the two encounters with the enemy had cost more than 250 lives.
After the Second World War, Frank was in business at Dartmouth where he also taught maths and English at Thurlestone College.
Later he moved to Torbay, where he was a hotelier at Paignton and Brixham. For a time he was chairman of the hotels' association.
For more than 30 years he was coach to the Torquay Leander Swimming Club, becoming its chairman and president, and he was Devon county swimming coach for 10-plus years.
In 2007, Frank created a doll museum for residents suffering from dementia at Eclipse Lodge residential home care. His late wife Joan had been one the home's residents.