Sergeant Horace William Pitt MM DCM

Died 31st March, 1918, aged 23

Horace Pitt was a Wivenhoe man, who went to war with a band and ultimately became known as The Bandmaster!

He was the son of William and Edith Pitt of Alma Street Wivenhoe. He was a popular lad and was reported to be amongst the first men in Wivenhoe to answer the call to arms.

He, along with other members of the Wivenhoe Town Band (recruited, so it was maliciously said, outside a pub on a Saturday night) joined the 10th Essex Regiment, who were training in Colchester at the time.

Horace was no musical genius, but he must have been a tremendous enthusiast. He worked unstintingly and by Christmas 1914 the 10th Essex had quite a decent brass band, ready and able, to accompany the regiment as they marched out of Colchester in May 1915.

Upon reaching France, the regiment’s arrival in any of the small Somme villages was an event thanks to the band. Yet in the early days Pitt and his fellow musical enthusiasts were excused no duties. Horace was to be seen on sentry duty or working party every day the Battalion was in the line. The band in fact suffered several casualties and Horace had his work cut out when the regiment was resting to get reinforcements trained.

So despite his commitment to the band, Horace still has soldiering to do and in January 1916 he became one of the first soldiers to be awarded the Military Medal, for "Bravery in the Field".

He must have been a brave man, because a year later in early 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Sadly Horace died of wounds on 31st March 1918, during a German offensive on the Oise front. He is buried in the Boves Communal Cemetery on the Somme in France.

The passing of Drum Major Horace Pitt at the age of 23, a member of Kitchener’s army, was reported in the Wivenhoe column of the 20th April 1918 edition of the Essex County Standard. Alongside it were the thanks of his parents to all those that had offered their sympathy and condolences. Later that year the Standard reported that Horace’s parents went to Warley, home of the Essex Regiment, to receive his medals.

Horace Pitt was a man who loved music and was so well regarded for his musical efforts by his comrades, that he became known simply as The Bandmaster! His name is recorded on the Wivenhoe war memorial. 

" We will remember them "


Researched and written by Darrin Keeble

November 2003