Thomas Pryce

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Thomas Tannatt Pryce
Thomas Tannatt Pryce.jpg
Born17 January 1886
The Hague, Netherlands
Died13 April 1918 (aged 32)
Vieux-Berquin, France
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1914–18
RankCaptain
Unit Gloucestershire Regiment
Grenadier Guards
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
Military Cross & Bar
Mention in despatches (2)

Thomas Tannatt Pryce VC MC & Bar (17 January 1886 – 13 April 1918) was a Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. An officer with the Grenadier Guards during the First World War, he was posthumously awarded the VC for his actions over the period 11 to 13 April 1918, during the Spring Offensive.

Victoria Cross highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

Military Cross third-level military decoration of the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth officers

The Military Cross (MC) is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces, and formerly awarded to officers of other Commonwealth countries.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Contents

Early life

Thomas Tannatt Pryce was born at The Hague, the youngest child of four to Thomas and Rosalie Pryce, of Pentreheylin Hall, Montgomeryshire, in Wales. [1] [2] His father was a landowner and merchant, with business ties to London, The Hague, and the Dutch East Indies. [2] He was educated at Shrewsbury School after preparatory schooling at Mill Mead School, also in Shrewsbury. [1] He then had two terms at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester before leaving to travel overseas. [2]

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Montgomeryshire historic county of Wales

Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county town, Montgomery, which in turn is named after one of William the Conqueror's main counsellors, Roger de Montgomerie, who was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury School independent school in Shropshire, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury School is an English co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13 to 18 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, founded by Edward VI in 1552 by Royal Charter. The present campus, to which the school moved in 1882, is on the banks of the River Severn.

By 1913, Pryce was a member of the London Stock Exchange, working at Henry Tudor & Son. He had married the previous year; his wife was Margaret Fordham, the daughter of a magistrate. The couple would have three daughters. [2]

London Stock Exchange Stock exchange in the City of London

London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London, England. As of April 2018, London Stock Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$4.59 trillion. It was founded in 1571, making it one of the oldest exchanges in the world. Its current premises are situated in Paternoster Square close to St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. It is part of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

First World War

Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the First World War, Pryce enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company as a private. The unit duly embarked for France in late August. The following month, he had been promoted to lance corporal. In October 1915, having received a commission, he transferred to the 6th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, then serving on the Western Front as part of the 48th Division. With the battalion, he was involved in fighting at Gommecourt in late November 1915; he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for leading an assault on German trenches. The initial attack was successful but when German reinforcements arrived, Pryce executed a safe withdrawal of his men. Wounded in this action, he was evacuated to England for treatment. [3]

Honourable Artillery Company military organisation

The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII and is considered the second oldest military corps in the world. Today, it is a registered charity whose purpose is to attend to the "better defence of the realm". This purpose is primarily achieved by the support of the HAC Regiment and a detachment of City of London Special Constabulary. The word "artillery" in "Honourable Artillery Company" does not have the current meaning that is generally associated with it, but dates from a time when in the English language that word meant any projectile, including for example arrows shot from a bow. The equivalent form of words in modern English would be either "Honourable Infantry Company" or "Honourable Military Company".

Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organisations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR3.

Gloucestershire Regiment Former British Army regiment

The Gloucestershire Regiment, commonly referred to as the Glosters, was a line infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 until 1994. It traced its origins to Colonel Gibson's Regiment of Foot raised in 1694, which later became the 28th Regiment of Foot. The regiment was formed by the merger of the 28th Regiment with the 61st Regiment of Foot. It inherited the unique privilege in the British Army of wearing a badge on the back of its headdress as well as the front, an honour won by the 28th Regiment when it fought in two ranks back to back at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. At its formation the regiment comprised two regular, two militia and two volunteer battalions, and saw its first action during the Second Boer War.

Pryce returned to the frontlines in May 1916 and soon afterwards, was awarded a bar to his MC for leading a platoon in an attack at Fauquissart. In September 1916, he transferred to the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards and was promoted to lieutenant. He was mentioned in despatches on 7 April 1918 for his services in the field and three days later was promoted to acting captain. [3]

Medal bar

A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It most commonly indicates the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the recipient has met the criteria for receiving the medal in multiple theatres.

The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It can trace its lineage back to 1656 when Lord Wentworth's Regiment was raised in Bruges to protect the exiled Charles II. In 1665, this regiment was combined with John Russell's Regiment of Guards to form the current regiment, known as the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Since then, the regiment has filled both a ceremonial and protective role as well as an operational one. In 1900, the regiment provided a cadre of personnel to form the Irish Guards; while later, in 1915 it also provided the basis of the Welsh Guards upon their formation.

The Spring Offensive had been underway since 21 March 1918, with the British frontlines under severe pressure. [4] Pryce's battalion, as part of the 31st Division, had been in reserve but was brought back to the front on 10 April to hold the line at the village of Le Paradis, near Vieux-Berquin. As commander of a company, he was tasked with the capture and subsequent defence of a village. After seizing the village, he was left with around 40 men and over the next two days fended off attacks by the Germans. At one stage, his position was under direct bombardment from field guns. His force depleted, he was killed making a last ditch bayonet charge. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). [5] The VC, instituted in 1856, was the highest award for valour that could be bestowed on a soldier of the British Empire. [6] The citation for Pryce's VC read:

Spring Offensive series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War

The 1918 Spring Offensive, or Kaiserschlacht, also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be fully deployed. They also had the temporary advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions which had been freed by the Russian withdrawal from the war by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

31st Division (United Kingdom) division of the British Army

The 31st Division was an infantry division of the British Army. It was raised in the Great War by volunteers from Kitchener's Army and formed in April 1915 as part of the K4 Army Group and taken over by the War Office on 10 August 1915. Comprising mainly infantry battalions from Yorkshire and Lancashire, the division was sent to Egypt in December 1915 before moving to France in March 1916 and spent the remainder of the First World War in action on the Western Front. The 31st Division was the quintessential New Army division, being made up entirely of Pals battalions.

Vieux-Berquin Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Vieux-Berquin is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty, and self-sacrifice when in command of a flank on the left of the Grenadier Guards. Having been ordered to attack a village he personally led forward two platoons, working from house to house, killing some thirty of the enemy, seven of whom he killed himself. The next day he was occupying a position with some thirty to forty men, the remainder of his company having become casualties. As early as 8.15 a.m., his left flank was surrounded and the enemy was enfilading him. He was attacked no less than four times during the day, and each time beat off the hostile attack, killing many of the enemy. Meanwhile the enemy brought three field guns to within 300 yards of his line, and were firing over open sights and knocking his trench in. At 6.15 p.m., the enemy had worked to within sixty yards of his trench. He then called on his men, telling them to cheer and charge the enemy and fight to the last. Led by Captain Pryce, they left their trench and drove back the enemy with the bayonet some 100 yards. Half an hour later the enemy had again approached in stronger force. By this time Captain Pryce had only 17 men left, and every round of his ammunition had been fired. Determined that there should be no surrender, he once again led his men forward in a bayonet charge, and was last seen engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with overwhelming numbers of the enemy. With some forty men he had held back at least one enemy battalion for over ten hours. His company undoubtedly stopped the advance through the British line, and thus had great influence on the battle.

London Gazette , 21 May 1918 [7]

He was also mentioned in despatches posthumously, on 22 May 1918. [3] Pryce's name is recorded on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in Berks Cemetery Extension near Ploegsteert in Hainaut, Belgium. He has no known grave. [8]

Victoria Cross

Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing Ploegsteert - Ploegsteert Memorial 2.jpg
Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing

King George V presented Pryce's VC to his widow on 12 April 1919, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. In addition to the VC and the MC with its bar, he was also entitled to the 1914–15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal with oak leaf device. His medals are on load to The Guards Museum, located at Wellington Barracks in London. [9]

Pryce is associated with several memorials; he is listed on the Maidenhead War Memorial in Berkshire, memorial plaques at Shrewsbury School and Mill Mead School. The latter as moved to St Giles' Church, Shrewsbury, following the closure of Mill Mead school in 1966. He is also remembered at the Stock Exchange Memorial, Llandysilio Church, and the War Memorial at Four Crosses, in the Llandysilio parish. [9]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Francis 2013, pp. 78, 198.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Gliddon 2013, pp. 177.
  3. 1 2 3 Gliddon 2013, p. 178.
  4. Gliddon 2013, pp. 12–14.
  5. Gliddon 2013, pp. 175–176.
  6. Ashcroft 2007, pp. 8–10.
  7. "No. 30697". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 May 1918. pp. 6057–6058.
  8. "Casualty Details: Pryce, Thomas Tannatt". Commonwealth War Graves Commission . Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  9. 1 2 Gliddon 2013, p. 179.

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