6928, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Killed in action
22nd January 1915. Born St Andrew's, Kettering, enlisted Northampton.
Son of Arthur and Emma Rice, of 46, Edmund St., Kettering. No known
grave. Commemorated on LE TOURET MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France.
Panel 28 to 30.
following details have been research and are courtesy Gerald Thompson:
a local newspaper 27th February 1915
WORRY ABOUT ME"
don't worry about me" were among the last words contained in
a letter written to his father by Pte. William Ewart Rice, of the
2nd Northampton's. "I am feeling A1" he continued, "except
my feet, which are slightly frost-bitten, but we shall get through
all right and give them a good whacking." Unhappily for Pte.
Rice his prophecy has lacked personal fulfilment, for he is reported
killed in action. Pte. Rice lived for many years in Northampton.
He went to South Africa with his Regiment after the Boer War, and
was among the first to be called up when hostilities broke out last
August. He was a baker and confectioner by trade, and was the eldest
son of Mr. Arthur Rice, who now resides at 16, Edmund Street, Kettering.
Deceased's brother George belongs to the 1st Batt. Lancashire Fusiliers,
and is now serving as military telegraphist and wireless operator.
war was declared the 2nd battalion was stationed in Mustapha Barracks,
January 1915, as part of 24th Brigade 8th Division the 2nd Battalion
Northamptonshire Regiment were holding trenches facing Neuve Chapelle
they rested in billets at Red Barn, Rouge-Croix and La Gorgue when
out of the front line.
War Diary records casualties for January as 35 killed, 80 wounded,
104 admitted to hospital and gives an account of what conditions
were like when in the days leading up to when William was killed,
he had been in France since 6th November 1915.
and 23rd January 1915
21st was pouring wet all day and the trenches, when we returned,
were very bad.
set in and all the water in the trenches froze making communications
even more impossible.
January 1915, 8pm
thaw set in, the relief was altered to a later hour as, on moonlight
nights, and men going in over the back of trenches were very visible.
Another Regiment suffered rather severely during their relief, so
our hour of changing over was altered to between 7 and 8pm and would
have had to be much later, had it not been a cloudy night.
our billets were, this time at La Gorgue, five miles behind, the
experiment of carrying all the men home in wagons was tried. About
27 wagons were used, some six horse’s from Royal Artillery,
others infantry wagons. The men were given the choice of walking
or driving, only 12 walked. Not much time was saved, but it was
a boon to those whose feet had given out.
strength of the battalion was at very low ebb, being only 500 of
all ranks in the trenches
over those few days 8 killed 2 died of wounds and 17 wounded.
don’t worry about me” were among the last words contained
in a letter written to his father by William “I’m feeling
A1” he continued, “except my feet which are slightly
frost bitten, but we shall get through all right and give them a
his prophesy lacked personal fulfilment, for he was reported killed
in action. Living in Northampton for many years he went to South
Africa with his Regiment after the Boer War and was among the first
to be called up when hostilities broke out in August. He was a baker
and confectioner by trade. Williams's brother George served with
the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
is entitled to the 1914 Star and Bar British War and Victory Medals.
mentioned in his letter home that his feet were a bit frost bitten,
an interesting memo from Captain H. Power he comments about the
men’s boots. Dated 31st January 1915
on Various Kinds of Boots issued to Troops
ordinary ankle boots, gumboots, Canadian boots, (both laced and
pull ups) and short ankle boots of rubber (Cumbermen) were tried.
were very good as long as the water did not get in over the top.
The same might be said of the Canadian boots. Once wet inside, they
were very difficult to dry. Short rubber ankle boots (Cumbermen)
were useless, the ones with the clips were torn off by the mud,
the laced ones had no advantage over ordinary ammunition boots.
regards the ammunition boots the new patterns whether black or brown
neither sort seemed as good as the old ammunition boots. Cases occurred
of the heel coming off after a weeks wear and the sole being worn
away in a month. Experts came from the War Office to see the boots
best dress for keeping dry in the trenches is a pair of long waders,
reaching to the thigh, as the water is often more than knee deep.
2nd Northants Regt
seems strange that in the middle of all that was going on, experts
from the War Office were coming to France to discuss boots.
is reasonable to assume that William Rice and Frank Murdin (Frank
is on the Daventry memorial)would have known each other serving
in the same battalion.