The Pride of Pirton

Our men of the First World War 1914-1918

By Tony French, Chris Ryan and Jonty Wild

Pride of Pirton

In the Great War the men of Pirton answered their country’s call to arms.  The names of 232 men with a Pirton connection are recorded as serving.  Some did so through a sense of duty to King and Country, others for adventure and to escape their humdrum lives and some were forced to join through conscription.  39 of them died – a fate shared by almost a million other men from the British Army – and 30 of them are named on the Village Memorial.

The Pride of Pirton remembers them all, those who died and those who survived.  It has involved an immense amount of research; from local newspapers to service records, from parish magazines to battalion war diaries, and from the censuses to museums.  This research was undertaken between 2003 and 2010 by members of the book team and other volunteers.  Contributions to the book were received from as far away as Canada and America.  It has resulted in an impressive, large format, professional quality, full-colour book, of 210 pages with over 300 images and photographs.

This book is predominantly the work of three villagers, whose sense of responsibility to these men and their memory has grown with the task; they are Tony French, Chris Ryan and Jonty Wild.  We hope this will become the definitive study of Pirton’s role in World War One, and for good reasons:

  • It is a collaborative project.
  • Its entire contents have been independently researched by the authors and volunteers both in the UK and overseas.
  • It is inclusive – all known men with a Pirton connection are featured.
  • It has been written and produced by those who have visited all the graves and memorials of the men on the Village War Memorial – France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Egypt.

and perhaps most of all, because it is a village project sponsored by the people of Pirton.

The Pride of Pirton is published by the Pirton Heritage Support Group and is available via or PHSG, Cats’ Whiskers, 14a High Street, Pirton, Herts. SG5 3PS or contact  Priced at £19.95 postage (where required) is £4.50 (UK), (Europe and ROW please request cost – sorry but it is a big book).  Payment by cheque (PHSG) or PayPal by prior arrangement.

This page was added on 12/11/2010.

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  • Here are two reviews of the book:

    ‘The Pride of Pirton.’ – expertly researched and beautifully crafted, reconstructs the lives of a group of young men from the village of Pirton, who fought and died in the First Word War. This valuable, historical document brings each of the men, one by one, briefly back to life – back to their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their friends and workmates – for no more than a few precious moments – before cruelly cutting them down, once again, in their own uniquely savage and tragic deaths. To read of their lives in Pirton before the war and realise that we walk the same streets, see the same sights and breathe the same air as these ordinary but gallant men, makes their story all the more poignant. The 30 young men who feature in this book gave their lives in war – the ultimate sacrifice. At the same time, of course, many of their friends, fathers and brothers fought bravely alongside them, suffering the same distress, enduring the same unbearable horrors. Altogether, another 192 men from Pirton bravely fought in the Great War – but had the good fortune to live. What are their names? What are their stories? Their names do not appear on any war memorial, yet, they too deserve to be remembered. The authors recognise this and have dedicated a chapter to their memory. A highly commendable and indeed recommended book about some real local heroes. May they never be forgotten.

    Mark Payne

    World War 1 ended more than 90 years ago, but still has a poignancy that can tug at the heart strings. It was a horrendous conflict, fought with 19th century tactics and 20th century weaponry. It was a recipe for disaster and an inevitable and needless waste of all that manhood from all over the world. Pirton is no different from any other city, town or village throughout the UK or in communities throughout what was then the Commonwealth and Dominions of the United Kingdom. Everywhere you go in the world you will find the Memorials to those who died for King and Country. Think of the impact today if 30 men from Pirton were to die over a relatively short period of time. Then think back to the impact those deaths must have had on a Pirton much smaller and much more remote than now. Pirton Memorial close by St. Mary’s Church is beautifully maintained as a permanent mark of respect to the Fallen. A fitting adjunct to this memorial has now been published by the Pirton World War 1 Project supported by the Pirton Heritage Support Group First, The Pride of Pirton is a sumptuous production by any standards. 210 A4 pages printed on quality cream laid art paper and including more than 270 colour and black-and-white photographs ranging from World War 1 to the most recent pictures taken by the authors on their numerous visits to the beautifully maintained War Cemeteries across the battlefields of Western Europe. Also included are over 30 reproductions of press reports, posters and other memorabilia from the War and copious quotes from the participants and from Official Regimental Histories. It is a work of absolute scholarship, a labour of love that has been some six years in the making since that first trip to France and Belgium. At the time of going to press, the authors were preparing to track down the last grave of the final Pirton soldier, this one in Egypt. Their research and eye for detail have been, and remain, absolutely meticulous. The contents are split into a narrative of all the Pirton men whom served, including some who were killed but are not on the Memorial but perhaps should be, to a comprehensive biographical index that families, friends and historians can dip into at their leisure. All Pirton people should be immensely proud of this huge achievement.

    Martin Morris, ex Editor/Reviewer Military Book Society and History Guild

    By Daphne Knott (17/11/2010)