Royal Navy standard for funeral of Birchington war veteran Leonard Pierce

Leonard Pierce Photo Ducan Forster

A Royal Navy standard and coffin drape will feature at the funeral of former serviceman Leonard Pierce on Friday (March 31).

The Birchington great-grandad passed away on February 21, aged 100.

Leonard served in the Royal Navy as a Leading Cook on Minesweepers during World War II.

Leonard was born in Margate in February 1923 and was the youngest of three brothers. He attended Salmestone and then St John’s schools before going on to work at Bowketts bakery.

As a teenager at the start of the war, Leonard also took part in digging trenches along the coast and took his turn at fire watch, even being issued with a Sten gun says son Dave.

In 1943 Leonard was conscripted, going into the Royal Navy.

Retired mechanic and truck driver Dave,76, said: “He ended up down the Gold Coast off Africa, I have his service records with all the different ships and captains. He started off as a cook onboard and ended up as leading cook with a crew of 32.

Crew on HMS MMS (Motor Minesweepers) ‘Boat 230’ – Leonard is Back Row – second in from left

“His brother Stan was on battleships and frigates and oldest brother Reg was on the submarines. We all said Reg had nine lives, he was a radio operator and every time he was moved the original sub didn’t come back!”

Crew – Leonard is on the far left, 2nd row up from the bottom

“Dad trained to do depth charges for the mine sweeping. So they had a torpedo towed behind the minesweeper. Pulses would be sent out to find mines anchored to the seabed, the cable would be cut to bring the mine to the surface and then they would be detonated.”

Len married Joan (nee Wratten) in 1945 and was demobbed in 1946.

Returning to civvy street, Len worked in Dreamland looking after the gardens. Dave said: “That’s when Dreamland had the zoo and the steam train. When he was laid off he went to work for Thanet council  looking after the nurseries and the cricket pitches at Dane Park and then he looked after all the bowling greens and became head groundsman.

He was very hardworking and conscientious. He retired when he was 65 but carried on with his gardening and growing tomatoes and cucumbers.”

Joan, who was a nurse at the Royal Seabathing Hospital for more than 21 years, passed away in 2021 aged 95.

The funeral service for Leonard will take place at 12:15pm on Friday 31st March at Margate Crematorium.

The Royal Naval Association will provide the coffin drape and Standard.

Leonard leaves behind son Dave, grandchildren Scott and Lisa and great-grandchildren  James and Luke.