The First British Army Casualty of WW2
I am currently working on a new Second World War fact book to run along side my 1001 Fantastic First World War Facts that is currently on sale. It will be imaginatively titled 1001 Sensational Second World War Facts and should be out sometime in the late Autumn this year.
I am telling you this not just because I wanted to mark you card and hopefully get you interested enough to purchase a copy when it is released, but actually I stumbled across an interesting factoid today that I wanted to share with you: namely, who was the first British Army casualty of the Second World War?
Before you go rushing to Google, I will tell you. It was 4031789 Corporal Thomas William Priday, a pre-war regular soldier serving with the 1st Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He was killed at Luttange, a small French town a few miles north-east of Metz, near the French/German border – an area of France protected by a section of the main Maginot Line. British troops came to Luttange during during 1939 and early 1940 to help and patrol sections of the border, they even occupied sections of the Maginot Line itself.
On the night of 9th December 1939 Corporal Priday was part of a British patrol which ventured into ground in which other units had laid booby-traps. An official report noted:
“Report received of first casualties (1 killed 4 wounded) of 3 Inf Bde on the SAAR Front. This had been caused by a patrol leader losing his way in the dark and walking into one of our own booby traps. The ambush party unfortunately fired into the ensuing melee.”
Corporal Priday was that fatal casualty. He was 27.
While others had died in the British Expeditionary Force prior to December 1939, none had been in action on a patrol facing the enemy. As such, Thomas William Priday became the first fatal British Army battle casualty of the Second World War. He is buried at Luttange Communal Cemetery.
Look out for some more Sensational Second World War Facts on this blog as I build up to the launch of my book!