Captain Charles Meyrick Pritchard, 12th Battalion (3rd Gwent), the South Wales Borderers
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Captain Charles Meyrick Pritchard, 12th Battalion (3rd Gwent), the South Wales Borderers, died at Chocques in France from wounds received two days earlier during the fighting at Loos.
Born into a large sporting family in Newport, on leaving school he went into his family’s wine and spirit business. Already known to be a talented rugby player, at the age of nineteen he was invited to play for Newport in what was described as an especially tough away game against the Welsh champions, Swansea – he was so impressive that he was offered a permanent place on the team. He played in over two hundred matches from 1902 to 1911, won fourteen caps for Wales, and was considered a courageous, chivalrous and resolute player – his nickname was “The Uskside Adonis.” He was one of thirteen Wales international players to be killed during the Great War. In May of 1915 he joined the South Wales Borderers, and after six months had been promoted to captain. His battalion arrived on the Western Front in June of 1916. On the night of the 12th of August, Captain Pritchard led a raiding party near Loos. Although the raid was successful, he was wounded at the outset but carried on only to be more seriously wounded later. He was taken to No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station, a few miles behind the front lines, but could not be saved. The 12th South Wales Borderers War Diary recorded: “The Battalion thus loses a very gallant officer and a chivalrous, generous and large-minded gentleman.” He was mentioned in despatches, and had he survived he would have been recommended for the Distinguished Service Order for his bravery – at that time the D.S.O. was not awarded posthumously.
On hearing of Captain Pritchard’s death, the journalist W.J. Townsend Collins wrote: “The war has swept away many a great and famous Rugby player who was also a good fellow; but among them all was none with a stouter or kinder heart, more beloved, more lamented than Charlie Pritchard.” He is buried in the Chocques Military Cemetery, three miles north-west of Béthune.
Charles, from Newport. Monmouthshire, was 33 years old and married with two sons, aged five and twelve.