I was recently contacted by Janet Shell, a constituent from Hersham with a remarkable story to tell. Janet was undertaking some research into her family history, when she came across the story of a French farmer who had discovered multiple remains in one of his fields – the historical site of the battle of Arras during World War 1. Following subsequent inquiries, Janet discovered that the remains of her great uncle, John Harold Pritchard, were amongst those found on the battlefield in Bullecourt.
It turns out that Captain Pritchard had served with the Honourable Artillery Company in France during the Great War. He fell on May 17th 1915 at the battle of Arras, during one of the more successful allied offensives. Janet’s perseverance will be reward later this month. John will receive a full military burial in France – almost a century after he fell fighting for his country.
Hopefully, Janet’s story will encourage other families who have lost relatives during the wars to continue their search for them. Janet simply typed John’s name into a search engine. But it is also possible to search the Commonwealth War Graves Commission via their link here.
John Pritchard as a Sergeant in 1914