Archie Peake…The Man Behind The Postcard

One of the interesting aspects of collecting Irish Postcards in the years between 1900 and 1922 is Propaganda cards. As the crisis over Home Rule escalated, both unionists and nationalists used postcards as a means of promoting their cause. So in Glasgow last week, I picked up this postcard and at first sight it seems to be a “nationalist” card. In fact both sides used or misused “Irish” symbolism.

Peake1

It seems fairly obvious “Erin-Go-Bragh on our Flag shall be seen…And our Mascot shall be The sweet Shamrock so Green”.

But on closer inspection, there is room for doubt. Because the London-published card was posted in a British camp(seemingly Arra Barracks) in India on 9th December 1910. The stamp is (colonial) Indian.

Peake2

This is curious as surprisingly the card is addressed to “Mr and Mrs Alfred Peake, Tailor Pailton, near Rugby, Warwickshire, England”

The message is a simple Christmas greeting”My dear Parents… Sincerely hope you will have a most enjoyable time at Xmas. Your affectionate son…Archie”.

So no obviously Irish connexion. “Peake” is not an Irish name. I looked up Pailton …it is a very small village between Coventry and Rugby. It still has a parish council and luckily it has a War Memorial and one of the names on the memorial is “Corporal Alfred Peake aged 34 of the 1st Battn East Kent Regiment” He was killed in action in WW1 in February 1915 near Ypres.

Corporal Alfred Peake was the son of his namesake father and therefore the brother of Archie Peake who sent the postcard in 1910. Again no obvious connexion to Ireland except the East Kents were garrisoned at Fermoy in County Cork until the outbreak of war in 1914.

Alfred Peake Junior had been in the British Army for seventeen years. He served in Burma and India. WAs he also known as “Archie”? Alfred Peake Senior retired as a soldier (Master Sergeant-Tailor) and retired to set up his own business at Coventry Road, Pailton in 1909. He retired as a tailor in 1930.

The Peakes were a military family. Peake Senior and his wife Mary had four sons. Alfred, killed in 1915. The eldest son (un-named) had served with the Grenadier Guards for twelve years until becoming a police officer in 1915. Alfred Junior was seemingly the second son. A third son (un-named) was a Bandmaster with the Royal Irish Regiment and the youngest son Daniel had also been a Grenadier Guard before being wounded (gas attack) in 1915 when he was serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

It looks like the third son was Archie Peake because the “Royal Irish Regiment” gives us an Irish connexion and they certainly served in India but possibly not as late as 1910.

So…a simple postcard can actually be a surprising insight into domestic life in a small English village.

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About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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