John Charles Prime
John Charles Prime
was born in Stoneleigh in June 1886, one of four sons of Charles and Eliza Prime (nee Prentice). The Prime family had lived in Stoneleigh for several generations; John Charles and his brothers had a sister, Jane, (Ginny), who lived in Birmingham Road all her life, and died unmarried in 1964. All the siblings attended Stoneleigh School, and lived in Birmingham Road, first at number 5 and later at number 17, next to the Stoneleigh Arms. Only the eldest brother Henry did not serve in the war, having become an acclaimed gardener at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Both Jonathan and William have their names inscribed on the Roll of Honour, having returned safely from their service.
John Charles was a gardener like his eldest brother, and in 1911 had become employed at "The Gardens", Welbeck in Worksop, later moving to Windsor, where he was to meet and marry a local girl, Helen Cooper, on July 13th 1913. Their son, Henry Arthur John Prime, was born on May 29th 1914, by which time John was working in Paignton, Devon. Towards the end of 1915 when it had become clear that more men were need to fight than had come forward voluntarily, "the Derby Scheme" was introduced by the Director General of Recruiting, Lord Derby, initially requiring only single men to "attest their willingness" to serve. As time went on this was extended to married men and John Charles received his notice to join in November 1915. He enlisted in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and after being mobilized at the end of May 1916 was transferred in September to the 3rd Bn East Kent Regiment (The Buffs), presumably as the army needed to "fill up" various regiments after the heavy losses at the Somme. Very quickly thereafter John sustained a minor injury - a sprained ankle - which was to be the precursor to many more. For almost the whole of 1917 his service record shows him being transferred from one Casualty Clearing Station to another. At the end of October 1917 he received a gun shot wound to his arm and to the left side of his back, causing damage to the nerve and "fairly extensive laceration", necessitating the removal of a large bullet from his fore-arm. How he received these injuries is not known, but finally he was shipped back to England where he was admitted to the Western General Hospital, Cardiff just before Christmas.
John was never to return to the Front. In mid-1918 he was transferred to Pirbright Camp, where he contracted influenza and was admitted, a week after the Armistice was signed, to the Military Hospital in Woking. He died, aged 32, 19 days later, on December 4th 1918, after septic bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia had set in. He is buried at Windsor Cemetery, Berkshire, grave reference BN 80.
The only son of John Charles and Helen Prime, who was just 4 years old when his father died, was killed on March 18th 1944, serving in World War Two in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He is buried at Heliopolis War Cemetery, Cairo, Egypt.