Lt. W. Prince



UNIT: 6th York and Lancaster Regiment

STATUS: Died of Wounds

DATE OF DEATH: 28th August 1917

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Westvleteren, Belgium

AGE: Unknown

William Prince was the brother of Cpl. James Prince , who was killed at the Battle of Jutland on board HMS Black Prince, and whose name also appears on the Northallerton Memorial. Their father was Captain William Prince of the 4th Yorkshire Regiment and their home was on South Parade, Northallerton, having moved there from L'Espec Street. William worked at the North Riding County Council Offices at County Hall before enlisting.

He was educated at the Grammar School and enlisted in 4th Yorkshires in January 1915. He obtained a commission and went out to France to join his battalion in January 1917.

The following is a transcript of a letter which was sent to Lt. Prince's family by a Sergeant J. Stokes, who was present when Lt. Prince received his fatal wound:

Sir or Madam,
I sincerely hope that you will pardon the privilege of writing to you, but I wanted to join my sympathies with your loss. Mr. Prince was my Officer and I his Sergeant in the Platoon, he was a grand big-hearted lad I always called him son, he did not mind for his Father put me through my first drills 20 years ago. It nearly broke my heart when I lost him he was such a good officer more of a pal than a superior. The bullet that took him away from us, cut my gas bag away entered his water bottle through his back and out of his stomach. I knew at once that the only chance of saving his life was by getting him to the dressing station, so called for volunteers to take him. Although the Boche was sniping the wounded, the lads took him, because they loved him as I did. Take charge Sgt he said and thank you very much, shook hands and that was the last I saw of my dearest Pal. God rest his soul. I believe I am coming to England soon were I shall be able to explain more to my old Insructor, so once more I ask you to pardon this privilege and remain yours to command.
J. Stokes. Sgt.
6th York & Lancaster.

William wrote to his mother on the day before he died to say that he was in the front line, where he had been for the last month. He was expecting to be relieved soon and was hoping to get a few days leave. It seems clear therefore that he must have been wounded later the same day, or the following day, when he died.

On 27th August 1917, two platoons from the 6th York & Lancs were sent up to reinforce the 9th West Yorks who were attacking German positions to the North of what is now called "Vancouver Crossroads" where the Canadian Memorial now stands to those Canadians who stopped the first gas attack in this area in April 1915. They were fighting in what was to become known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Their right came under heavy fire from a German position called "Vieilles Maisons". During the night, the Germans withdrew from Vieilles Maisons and the following day the 6th York & Lancs occupied the position. This was followed by an informal truce during which both sides sent out stretcher-bearers to bring in the wounded. William was clearly wounded at some point during these operations and died at, or on his way to, the casualty clearing station.