The real Private Peaceful revealed

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17 September 2012
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imports_MIL_privatepeaceful-notitle-1024x576_93766.jpg The real Private Peaceful revealed
The real story of the soldier who inspired Michael Morpurgo’s classic children’s story Private Peaceful can be revealed for the first time by researchers at the National Army Museum, London. ...

The real story of the soldier who inspired Michael Morpurgo’s classic children’s story Private Peaceful can be revealed for the first time by researchers at the National Army Museum, London.

Wartime documents have been found which record the death and last effects of a Private Thomas Samuel Henry Peacefull. Peacefull served with 4th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers until his death on 4 June 1915. Unlike the character in Morpurgo’s book, Private Peacefull died of wounds sustained in action, not from a firing squad, during the First World War.

Similarly, Peacefull’s father did not die in an accident but instead, as next of kin, was the recipient of his son’s last pay of £4, 16 shillings and 8 pence.

Private Peacefull’s records were found in the Museum’s collection of Soldiers’ Effects ledgers.These ledgers were created by the War Office to record the monies owing to soldiers who died while serving in the British Army.

The National Army Museum holds the records from 1901 to 1960, covering the latter stages of the Boer War and both World Wars. They list a soldier’s name, rank, regiment, date (and sometimes place) of death, and the name of the
deceased’s next of kin.

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These records serve as an invaluable research tool for family historians.

Fans of Michael Morpurgo’s books can discover more about the true stories which inspired Michael’s War Horse at the National Army Museum’s free War Horse: Fact & Fiction exhibition running until 31 March 2013.

Theatre lovers can now enjoy the National Theatre’s stage adaptation of Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, which is returning to London for 16 performances only at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 18 to 29 September 2012.

Directed and adapted for the stage by Simon Reade, Private Peaceful has designs by Bill Talbot and sound by Jason Barnes.