Date of Death:14/07/1916
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 14 C
There is nothing that has so far been found in the historical record linking this man with Royton and therefore the name on the war memorial but from a process of elimination he is by far the most likely candidate and also is most probably the C.H Prince on Oldham's memorial. If you have any further information on Charles or would like to suggest a different candidate please get in touch.
Charles Henry Prince was born in Manchester on May 2nd 1876 and was baptised at St.Andrew's Church in Ancoats on Christmas Eve that year. His father was Henry, a warehouseman, and his mother was Sarah who during Charles' childhood worked part time as a silk weaver. Charles' siblings were Sarah, Jane, Thomas and Joseph.
The Prince family moved around Manchester, being at various times in Ancoats, the city centre, Ardwick and Longsight.
It was while they were in Ardwick in 1891 that Sarah Prince died at the age of 43 and also young Joseph who was only a matter of months old. In 1894, Henry Prince remarried - to Hannah, a widow herself.
The last view we have of Charles before the war is the 1911 census, he was living at 59 Mackenzie Street in Longsight (Manchester's, not Royton's) with his father, stepmother and younger brother Thomas. Charles and Thomas were both laundrymen whilst Henry was working as a Bath Attendant. Henry died later that year. The Manchester Evening News later reported that Charles had also worked as a stoker at the Armitage Street Baths and Washhouse in Ardwick.
Charles enlisted in the army in Manchester in the latter part of 1915 and was sent to the 27th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This unit was formed in September 1915 and was the reserve battalion for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th Battalions who were out in France. The 24th Manchesters were Oldham's 'Pals' unit, but differentiating themselves from other Pals Battalions they had called themselves the Oldham Comrades. Charles would have spent time training at Prees Heath in Shropshire and then a longer spell in Southport.
When it was time to be sent for active service it was to the 24th Battalion (in which Edmund James & Richard Green had already been killed) that Charles headed. Whether this was because he was already living in the area of pure happenstance is matter of conjecture. He is likely to have been one of two drafts of men who reached the battalion before the Somme offensive of July 1916. The Comrades had been 'relegated' from their role as a frontline infantry battalion in May and were now a pioneer battalion. Many of the men were unhappy at this turn of events - gone in their opinion was the glory and glamour of the infantry and now their lot was to be digging, building and carrying. When the casualty lists of the other battalions of the Manchester Regiment at the Somme are considered it can be adjudged to have been a lucky day for Oldham when one of it's local battalions was reassigned.
On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on July 1st 1916, whilst other battalions were being wiped out in no-mans land the Oldham Comrades were working on consolidating ground won by others and suffered only 8 casualties. 1 man was killed and another 2 were to die from their wounds. They were then pulled away from the front between July 5th and 10th and rested at Mericourt. They were then back out salvaging equipment and building dugouts in the area around Pommiers Redoubt.
On July 14th the British launched another massive assault against the German lines and the Comrades were ordered to follow up the attack on the village of Bazentin-le-Petit. A & D Companies were to construct a Keep in the ruins of the village and another strongpoint in it's cemetery. During the course of the day the C.O of another battalion requested help in clearing Germans from a wood near the village. Two platoons went to the wood and another had later to hold the cemetery in the face of a German attack which they fought off. The remaining men of the battalion hard at work trying to construct the Keep whilst under fire from the Germans who still held the northern end of the village. During that difficult day the battalion suffered six deaths and nearly fifty men were wounded. Charles Prince was one of those killed. The Manchester Evening News reported that a letter had been received from a Lieutenant Bradshaw stating that Charles had been killed. His will left everything to his stepmother Hannah who was living back in Ardwick.
The men who died along with Charles that day were:
ANDREW HAROLD Lieutenant from Oldham
BURGESS WALTER 22 Private 15324 from Greenfield
BUTTERWORTH JAMES WILD Private 15451 from Scouthead
MILLWARD WILLIAM Lance Corporal 15071 from Oldham
McCOMISH JAMES 24 Private 18312 from Manchester