Arthur Price was born on 11th December 1885, the only son of Edwin Price and Elizabeth Price [née Parry] in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. His elder sister, Elizabeth was born the previous year. Arthur’s father was a publican and maltster who ran the Crown Inn in Frankwell, Shrewsbury.
Arthur was educated at Wellington College1 between the years 1895-01. He then left to begin a 5 year apprenticeship as a Mechanical Engineer living and working in Wolverhampton at the Great Western Locomotive Works before he qualified in 1907.
A month after the outbreak of the War Arthur enlisted in Shrewsbury as a private soldier in the 6th (Service) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) upon its formation, undertaking his training at Aldershot, Hampshire and then Larkhill in Wiltshire where on 14th July 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Lance-Corporal.
As with several of the new Battalions raised by Kitchener the new volunteers had few fully trained officers and NCO’s, no equipment to speak of or anywhere to live in the early days. Whilst at Larkhill the Battalion received their embarkation orders for deployment to the Western Front, landing in Boulogne on 23rd July 1915. Here they then moved to the area of FLEURBAIX where they undertook familiarisation training in special trenches.
On 12th October 1915 L/Cpl Price was the subject of court-martial proceedings for refusing to obey an order given by a Senior NCO, in front of witnesses, the previous day. His punishment, by a senior officer, was to be reduced in rank back to a private soldier. However, by 10th April 1916 he had atoned for his past transgression and was once again promoted back to Lance-Corporal.
By mid-July 1916 Arthur had been placed on sick leave where on 1st August he was admitted to No.10 Stationery Hospital in St Omer where he remained for 8 days before being pronounced fit and consequently returned to his unit.
Despite Arthur displaying no desire to seek a commission it had become clear to others that Arthur was clearly officer material and, despite no application on his part, was commissioned ‘in the field’ on the basis of meritorious service: his past history being no bar to advancement as an officer. After a brief period of officer training he was therefore duly commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant on 20th September 1916 and transferred across to ‘A’ Company of the 7th (Service) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) with promulgation in The London Gazette the following month.
In early November 1916 Arthur was in billets with his Battalion in LOUVENCOURT, when on 12th November they moved into the line in DUNMOW and SAPPER trenches in readiness for an attack on the German positions at SERRE the next day.
At 5.00am on Monday 13th November 1916 the Battalion left the trench system forming up in two lines, in artillery formation, with ‘A’ Company in the 2nd line. At 5.45am the artillery and Stokes Mortars opened up on the enemy front line and support trenches and the Battalion moved forward in the open.
At 6.35am it was apparent that the various units of the 20th (Light) Division had become intermingled and five minutes later the position had become obscured with loss of direction by some of the advancing units and the intermingling of others [working to different objectives & orders]. Runners were sent out to the Companies by the CO but of those who returned; i.e. those not killed en route, reported only finding traces of isolated pockets of men - no whole companies.
Orders were subsequently issued at Brigade level for the men to return, by which time the enemy were raining down shell fire on the British front line. By this time the fog had descended making visual sightings impossible: some men were wandering about No Man’s land lost whilst some had managed to get through to the German second line. They were soon forced to withdraw as they could not hold the ground gained.
During the course of the battle Second-Lieutenant Arthur Price, 7th (Service) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) was killed in action along with 8 other officers wounded and 214 other ranks killed, wounded or missing from the Battalion. Arthur was 30 years of age and lies buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.1, France. He is also commemorated in Shrewsbury.
The Battalion were relieved in the line on 14th November by the 13th (Service) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment).
The statutory notification telegram was sent by the War Office to Edwin Price in Shrewsbury followed by a formal confirmation letter on 21st November 1916. When his death was reported in the press that same day, several of the newspapers noted that he was ‘a keen footballer and was one of the cleverest amateur centre-forwards in the kingdom.’2
The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) is perpetuated today in the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles.