Southam in WW1

Centenary Archive

Honouring those who died and all who served


Private Ernest Arthur Pratt (306800)

There are two Southam men called Ernest Pratt who are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Ernest Arthur Pratt, born in 1877 was the son of William Pratt and his wife Ann. They lived in Coventry Street. By 1901 Ann was a widow working as a charwoman and she lived with her twenty-three year old single son Ernest Arthur who, like his father before him, was a labourer. Ernest was a keen footballer and known in the town by his nick-name ‘Churb’.

Private Ernest Arthur Pratt served with 1/8th Royal Warwicks.  In late August 1916 several battalions of the RWR were in trenches near Ovilliers la Boiselle. Alan Griffin, based on Regimental war diaries, gives a clear picture of the desperate situation:

‘The 1/8th Royal Warwicks were bivouacked near the village of Aveluy where the trenches were reported to be in a truly dreadful state. The Warwicks were providing as many men as possible for working parties in Skyline Trench. The trench was full of discarded German equipment, filth and bodies. The trench sides were blown in and the whole area was a patchwork of huge shell holes filled with corpses from the previous fighting. The men labouring in the trenches were under constant artillery fire from German positions’.[1]

Private Ernest Arthur Pratt met his death on the Somme on 27th August 1916. On that day 1/8th the Royal Warwicks were advancing to Ovilliers-Courcelette with bombing parties from early morning. According to Ray Westlake they were relieved the next day so it may be deduced that it was during this bombing action that he was killed.[2] His body was never identified.

[1] Alan Griffin, Lest We Forget, p.45.

[2] Ray Westlake, Tracing British Battalions on the Somme (1995, p.38)