This is another blog about the brave men commemorated on the cenotaph at St James, Brownhills, Staffordshire. Here is what I have been able to find out about Private Edward Price, killed in action on the Somme battlefield, one hundred years ago today in 1918.Findmypast
Enlisted Lichfield, Staffordshire, but no date is given.
Killed in action 22 March 1918 France & Flanders. Age 35.
Regimental Number 39588. South Staffordshire Regiment, 4th Special Reserve Battalion. C Coy. Bay 6, Arras Memorial.
Son of William and Jane Price, of Peace Cottages, Castle St., Brownhills, Walsall.
From there: 1911 census at Peace Cottages, Castle Street, Brownhills. Father and four brothers all coal miners, but Edward (28) a butcher’s assistant.
I was aware of some Price family in Andrew’s Kindred, and, sure enough, Ancestry told me that the census record was saved to my tree, with a link to Edward Price. He was therefore a distant relative; brother-in-law of great uncle, according to Ancestry. Edward’s sister Kate married Dad’s uncle Harry.
Edward Price was born about 1883 at Hammerwich (Brownhills), Staffordshire, the fourth child and third son of William Price and Jane, formerly Marklew. (GRO ref 1883 Jan-Mar Lichfield 6b 461). His place of birth was probably at Ironmonger Building, on Watling Street, where his family appear in the 1881 census.
In the 1891 census the family was recorded at Watling Street, near to Walker’s grocer’s shop, where Edward (8) was at school. This shop stood on the north side of Watling Street, more or less opposite Deakin Avenue. This is probably the same place as in 1881.
Ten years later the family was recorder at Watling Street, back of W. Chapel. Edward (18) was a butcher’s assistant. I suspect this was the mysterious building that stood behind the Wesleyan Chapel on the back lane (now Chapel Street) that I have mentioned before, as my father lived there for a time, and which was once a pub or, more likely, a beerhouse.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website confirms commemoration at the Arras Memorial, in the Pas de Calais, France, though it says most of the soldiers remembered were killed at the Battle of Arras between 9 April and 16 May 1917. Edward’s is among nearly 35,000 names. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
So what was Edward involved in?
From above we know that Edward served with C Coy [Company].
The War Diary of 4th Battalion Sth Staffs Regt:
21 March at 11:30 a.m. the “Battalion went up and dug in behind the Army Line on left of the road behind between BEUGNY and FREMICOURT. And on the 22 March: “Remained in the line during the day”.
On 23 March at 3 p.m.: “C & D Coys formed an offensive flank on the left … At night C & D returned to support A & B who were still in the Army Line, which had now become the Front Line”.
Other war diaries I have seen record casualties after each day or action, but there is no such information in this case. From the last entry, it appears that on 21 & 22 March C Coy was with the battalion, so that must be where Private Edward Price went missing, later to be presumed dead.
The action, which began on 21 March 1918 with a heavy bombardment, was the Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser’s Battle), code-named Operation Michael, a German offensive between Cambrai, St. Quentin and La Fère on the Somme battlefield. In today’s world the settlements of Framicourt and Beugny are on the Route Nationale D930 going east from Bapaume towards Cambrai.
I have not been able to find Private Price’s war record, so I don’t know when he enlisted. He remains one of the lost souls of World War I, commemorated in name only. It seems there was no acknowledgement in the local press.
We will remember them.