Quite a gloom has been cast over Neston and Willaston by the death of Private Henry Jones, the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jones of Weatherstone Cottages, Willaston. He joined the colours in 1914, and proceeded to the scene of action a little over a year ago. He was only 19 years of age, and his death is keenly regretted by all. The following letter has been received by Mrs. Jones:
Dear Madam, – This is the first opportunity I have had of answering your letter of inquiry about your son, Private H. Jones, as we have only now come out of the trenches. It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that your son was killed in the advance on La Boiselle on July 2nd, bravely doing his duty nobly. He was one of the few lads left with the Company that came out with us in July last year, and I am the only officer, and it was a great loss to me to lose such a willing, good-hearted lad. With my most sincere sympathy to you in your great loss, I remain, yours sincerely, H.M. Moses.
It is with regret that we also record the death in action of Private Reginald Pritchard, youngest son of Mr. Thomas Pritchard, who until recently resided in Little Neston. Private Pritchard was an employee of Mr. Fleming, but enlisted in the Cheshire Engineers over a year ago, and had not been at the front very long. He was very cheerful and absolutely fearless, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. Much sympathy has been extended to all his relatives.
Private Joseph Henry Jones was born in July, 1897, and was baptised on 1st October of the same year in Neston, Cheshire. He was the third son of Joseph and Margaret Jones.
Henry Jones served as part of the 9th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, and (contrary to the above letter) is recorded as having died on 4th July, wounded in the capture of La Boiselle. He is commemorated in France on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
The Capture of La Boiselle took place from 1st to 6th July, 1916, as part of the opening of the Somme Offensive. On 1st July the 34th Division attacked the village of La Boiselle in the hopes that the 7 day bombardment preceding the opening of the Somme Offensive had destroyed German strong-points. Unfortunately the deep dug-outs survived the shelling, while the day before a German listening post had overheard British telephone communications and were aware of the impending attack.
The attack was disastrous, and led to the 19th (Western) Division, of which the 9th Cheshires were a part, being called up from the reserves. The 19th Division continued the attacks on La Boiselle and most of the village had been captured by 4th July, the date on which Henry Jones is recorded as having been killed in action. Two days later, on 6th July, the operation to capture La Boiselle was completed, yet the Somme Offensive would not reach a conclusion until November, four months later.
Private Charles William Reginald Pritchard was born in early 1896 on the Wirral.
He served in the 1/1st Cheshire Field Company of the Royal Engineers. As a sapper, Reginald would have been tasked with the construction of fortifications, such as trenches, whilst also having received training for offensive and defensive operations as an infantryman.
Reginald Pritchard was killed on the 24th July, 1916, during the first month of the Somme Offensive, and is commemorated in France on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.