Biography and History

Peter Mayo Page was born on March 31, 1919, in Wellesley Hills, Mass., the youngest of three sons of Robert P. Page and Helen White Hamilton. When he was eight the family moved to Ardmore, PA, where his father became president of Autocar Company, a leading manufacturing company for commercial trucks. Page graduated from the Haverford School in Haverford, PA in 1937 and enrolled at Princeton University as a member of the Class of 1941.

At Princeton, Page majored in modern languages. He was drawn, however, to sports rather than academics, and his enjoyment of other aspects of student life at Princeton sometimes landed him in trouble. In his obituary in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, classmates described him as "a boy so alive, so full of charm" and "fond of games and clean fun." He was an all-around athlete, and particularly excelled at golf: Page was the first to captain the Princeton golf team for two years and was elected president of the Intercollegiate Golf Association during his senior year.

According to a note in his student records, Page was unsure about his vocation throughout his years at Princeton, but considered a career in banking or manufacturing after graduation. However, he joined the Naval Air Corps in the early fall of 1941, several months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that caused many other young Americans to enlist.

During his preliminary flight training at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Page was chosen leader of his class of student pilots. He met Pearman (née Aiguier) during a party on Christmas night, December 25, 1941, less than a month before she turned seventeen. Pearman was a high school senior at the Baldwin School, an independent college prep day school in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, who lived with her family at home in Cynwyd, PA.

After finishing his preliminary flight training in Philadelphia, Page received subsequent training as a Naval reservist and aviation cadet at bases in New Orleans and at Pensacola, the primary training base for Navy and Marine aviators. According to Marine Corps records, Page received his commission seven months later, on September 1, 1942 in Miami, Florida, with the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He was first assigned to a Marine dive-bombing squadron, but while awaiting further training at San Diego, the squadron was re-assigned to torpedo bombing, the 'most dangerous phase of aerial warfare,' according to his obituary in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Page's squadron was ordered to the Southwest Pacific, where combined Allied forces were involved in their first major offensive against imperial Japanese forces on the ground, at sea, and in the air, on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands. According to a letter from Page's mother, present in his alumni file, the squadron landed in the New Hebrides on January 14, 1943. This was only days after the Guadalcanal Campaign ended, resulting in the first significant strategic combined arms victory by the Allied over the Japanese forces in the Pacific.

Tragically, Page lost his life near the island of Efate during a tropical storm on the night of February 14, while he was flying his 303rd hour. In a letter to his parents earlier that day he had written: "There is a flight planned for tonight. This should be great fun if the storm holds off." All planes ordered to Guadalcanal that night were lost.

Sixty-four years later Pearman describes herself as a young girl who had no idea at the time of what the war entailed, but whose life changed dramatically after Page's death. She accelerated her studies at Vassar, where she had started in September 1942, in order to graduate early and join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). This was a division of the U.S. Navy, established in August 1942, for women only with the provision that they could not continue their Navy careers once the war had ended. When Pearman graduated from Vassar, however, the Second World War had just come to an end.

Source: From the finding aid for MC211

  • Peter M. Page Papers. 1941 December 29-1943 January 29 (inclusive), 2006 (inclusive), 1941-1943 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC211

    Peter M. Page (1919-1943) joined the US Naval Air Corps after graduating from Princeton University's Class of 1941 and lost his life as a Marine Corps pilot in the aftermath of the Guadalcanal campaign on January 14, 1943. The collection contains correspondence from Peter Page to his fiancée Ann Pearman (neé Aiguier) from several bases during his pilot training and subsequent military service.

  • Peter M. Page Papers. 1941 December 29-1943 January 29 (inclusive), 2006 (inclusive), 1941-1943 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC211

    Peter M. Page (1919-1943) joined the US Naval Air Corps after graduating from Princeton University's Class of 1941 and lost his life as a Marine Corps pilot in the aftermath of the Guadalcanal campaign on January 14, 1943. The collection contains correspondence from Peter Page to his fiancée Ann Pearman (neé Aiguier) from several bases during his pilot training and subsequent military service.