Christopher Pincher Thanks Rawlett Students for Honouring His Great Grandfather

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Tamworth’s MP, Christopher Pincher, has thanked Rawlett students William Pritchard and Billy Green for honouring the memory of his great grandfather who was killed in the First World War.

William Pincher, a Territorial Army soldier, fought with the South Staffordshire Regiment.  He was killed on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme though his body was never found.  His name is inscribed on the Thiepval memorial in France, which commemorates the 73,000 British servicemen who fell on the Somme and who have no known grave.  Rawlett School visited the memorial earlier this year and William and Billy found William Pincher’s name.

During Culture Questions last month, Mr Pincher thanked the two pupils in the House of Commons and asked the Government to encourage more schools to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and learn more about our local history.

Mr Pincher said, “I was grateful to William Pritchard and Billy Green from The Rawlett School, who laid a wreath in memory of my great-grandfather, who was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme in 1916.  In this, its centenary year, may I ask my right hon. Friend to encourage school visits to the Somme battlefield memorials, to remember the men who made such a sacrifice all those years ago.”

In response, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP said, “My hon. Friend illustrates what has become very clear, that almost every person in this country will have had a relative who served in the First World War, many of whom died.  I am delighted to hear about the tribute that was paid to my hon. Friend’s great-grandfather.

“It is incredibly important that young people learn about the First World War, which is why we put in place the school battlefields tour programme, under which two pupils and one teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England can visit the First World War battlefields.  More than 3,500 pupils and teachers have already been on that programme.”

Afterwards Mr Pincher ordered two copies of Hansard, the official daily record of the House of Commons, and gave them to William and Billy.

He said, “It was a very nice gesture of Will and Billy to find my great grandfather’s name.  The Battle of the Somme was meant to be the “big push” to break the deadlock of the war.  But it failed and cost Britain 96,000 dead – 19,000 on the first day of the battle alone.

“I think it is a very good think for young people to learn about the history of that war, the huge sacrifices that were made but also the comradeship and spirit of the army, especially as we mark the one hundredth anniversary of that battle.  The South Staffordshire Regiment played an important, and tragic, part on the Somme.”