A DSO Group to Lieut. Colonel Pragnell; 5th CAN INF at St.Julien
A DSO Group to Lieut. Colonel Pragnell; 5th Canadian Infantry at St. Julien; Distinguished Service Order, George V; Queen's South Africa Medal, 4 Clasps - CAPE COLONY, ORANGE FREE STATE, SOUTH AFRICA 1901, SOUTH AFRICA 1902 (LIEUT: G.S.T. PRAGNELL. DERBY: REGt); 1914-15 Star (MAJOR: G.S.T. PRAGNELL. 5/CA:INF:); British War Medal (LT. COL. G.S.T. PRAGNELL.); Victory Medal with MID Oak Leaf (LT. COL. G.S.T. PRAGNELL.); and Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration, George V (LT. COL. G.S.T. PRAGNELL D.S.O. 5 HORSE). Naming is officially impressed on the QSA and on the First World War trio, and officially engraved on the reverse of the CAFOD. Court-mounted with a cardboard backer, dark patinas on the silver medals, intact enamels on the DSO, edge nicks on the QSA, light contact, better than very fine. Accompanied by two Photographs (one of Pragnell in a Trench Entitled "Major G. Pragnall, D.S.O., on his rounds."; the other of the Unveiling of the Cenotaph in Kamloops on May 25, 1925 by Pragnell; black and white, gloss finish, 203 mm x 254 mm each), along with his Statement of Service in the Canadian Armed Forces, copies of the Roll of Individuals entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal (confirming that Pragnell qualified for the medal with four clasps), his CEF Index Cards, Attestation Paper, Service Records, Medical Records, Pay Records, Discharge Certificate and Certificate of Service, 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion (British Columbia) Battalion Orders (from Lieutenant Colonel Pragnall, D.S.O. Officer Commanding at Seaford, dated June 4th and 5th, 1917), pages from the London Gazette and assorted research papers. (C:36) Footnote: George Seabrook Thomas Pragnell was born on November 22, 1880, in Hythe, Kent, England, the son of George W. Pragnell and Mary H. Pragnell. In the 1881 British Census, his parents are listed as residing at the Seabrook Hotel in Newington-in-Elham, Kent, with a four month old George Seabrook Thomas Pragnell, his father as the Manager of the hotel and having ten servants (two Waiters, two Housemaid, Billiard Marked & Porter, Hotel Porter, Kitchen Maid, Stileroom Maid, Nursemaid, Bar Maid). Pragnell served with the Imperial Forces during the Boer War, with the 5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, participating in operations in the Orange River Colony and in Cape Colony between November 30, 1900 and May 31, 1902. He held certificates in Musketry while in the Imperial Army and for his South African service, he was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with four clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902. He was a 2nd Lieutenant with the Manchester Regiment when he was seconded to succeed Lieutenant E.G. Howell with the 2nd Battalion, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment "Sherwood Foresters" (Territorial Force), the announcement appearing in the London Gazette 27429 of Tuesday, April 29, 1902, page 2863. Pragnell served with the Sherwood Foresters on the Isle of Wight (1903-1904) and at Aldershot (1905-1906) and was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant on April 4, 1906, the announcement appearing in the London Gazette 27918 of Friday, June 1, 1906, page 3846. He retired from the Sherwood Foresters on December 19, 1906, with the announcement appearing in the London Gazette 27995 of Friday, February 15, 1907, page 1069, naming P.L.W. Herbert from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment to take over, the vice being Pragnell, who had resigned. Pragnell immigrated to Canada in 1907, settling in Kamloops, British Columbia. He joined the 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse (Militia), at Wallachin, British Columbia (near Kamloops), as a Lieutenant, on March 31, 1912. Two months later, he was appointed Major with C Squadron, 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse (Militia), on May 31st. His brother was Colonel Thomas Wykeham Pragnell, D.S.O., 4th Hussars, Imperial Forces. Major George S.T. Pragnell married Martha Elizabeth Tyler of Covington Hall, Leicester in 1912. Pragnell became involved in the real estate and insurance fields in Kamloops. In 1910, he was co-owner of Calloway & Pragnell, Real Estate Agents; in 1911, he was the co-owner of Pragnell & Cosier, Real Estate & Insurance Brokers; and in 1912, the sole proprietor of Pragnall & Company, Real Estate and remained in that field until 1914. There was a house constructed in 1912, in a Tudor Style at 69 Clarke Street, Kamloops, built on land owned by Colonel Pragnall, "the Indian Agent". Upon the outbreak of hostilities in the Great War, he was mobilized with the 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse Regiment, on August 20, 1914 (although the location is not stated) and was discharged on September 24th at Vancouver, British Columbia, in order to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Pragnall was a tall man at six feet, two inches and signed his Attestation Paper as a Major with the 5th Infantry Battalion "Western Canadian Cavalry", on September 24, 1914, at Valcartier Camp, at the age of 33, naming his next-of-kin as his wife, Mrs. M.E. Pragnell of Leicester, England, stating that he had previous service with the Manchester Regiment (Militia) from 1898 to 1901, the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Regulars) from 1901 to 1908 and the 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse (Canadian Militia) in 1912, that he was Married and that his trade as "None", although he is acknowledged in other sources as an Insurance Broker. The Battalion was raised in Western Canada with mobilization headquarters at Camp Valcartier, Quebec under the authority of P.C.O. 2067, August 6, 1914. The Battalion sailed October 3, 1914, with a strength of 45 officers and 1,095 other ranks under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel G.S.Tuxford, arriving in Plymouth, England on the 15th. After four months preparation in England, Pragnell entered the French theatre with the 5th Infantry Battalion, on February 4, 1915. Eleven and a half weeks later, on April 26, 1915, while fighting in the Springtime, Pragnell suffered gun shot wounds to his right arm, right foot and head, along with being gassed, during the Second Battle of Ypres at St. Julien. He was admitted to No. 2 British Red Cross Hospital at Rouen on May 2nd, where the decision was made to invalid him to England. Upon arrival in England, he was admitted to the Convalescent Home for Officers at Osborne, Isle of Wight on May 7th, treated for one month, then discharged on June 7th. There were worries at home in Kamloops that Pragnell had perished as a result of his injuries at St. Julien, as the English newspaper, The Daily Mirror of July 31, 1915, had previous reported. The report had been picked up locally in Kamloops but as it later turned out, the claims were unfounded. Although injured, Pragnell appeared to be recovering nicely from his injuries and was quite alive. While hospitalized in England, Major Pragnell, 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion was Mentioned in Field Marshal Sir John French's Despatch of May 31, 1915, the announcement appearing in the Third Supplement to the London Gazette 29200 of Friday, June 18, 1915, on Tuesday, June 22, 1915, page 6011. Major Pragnell was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on the occasion of His Majesty's birthday in 1915, with no citation, the announcement appearing in the Supplement to the London Gazette 29202 of Tuesday, June 22, 1915, on Wednesday, June 23, 1915, page 6129. Both announcements were to later appear in the Canada Gazette, No. 3 of Saturday, July 17, 1915: the Mentioned in Despatches on page 150, the award of the Distinguished Service Order on page 151. He was transferred to the 32nd Infantry Battalion "Manitoba and Saskatchewan Regiment" on July 7th. Twelve weeks later, he was assigned to Headquarters, Canadian Training Depot, where he was appointed Temporary Chief Instructor of the Canadian Military School in England, on September 28th, later vacating that position in favour of an appointment to Instructor in Tactics. He was named Brevet Colonel and promoted to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel, on December 31, 1915. However, Pragnell developed breathing issues and an accelerated heart rate and outward nervousness, traced to his injuries at St. Julien. In his Proceedings of a Medical Board Report, dated December 15, 1915 at Shorncliffe, it was noted that "The Board find this officer has still a rapid pulse and is unfit for general service." It was subsequently determined that he was found permanently unfit for General Service but fit for Home Service. Early in the new year, he was re-assessed and diagnosed as suffering from Tachycardia (a heart rate that exceeds the normal range), once again declared unfit for General Service but fit for Home Service, for an additional three months, on February 29, 1916. He was transferred to the General List on April 1, 1916. Pragnell was "Brought to the Notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with the War" on October 26, 1916. At age 36, his health issues would continue to plague him, as noted in his Proceedings of a Medical Board Report, dated November 23, 1916, at Shoreham-by-Sea. The doctors noted that "This officer suffers from continual severe head colds due to accessory sinus disease. He had his antrum drained in Folkestone but subsequently has had an Operation on his nose in London. The after effects of this Operation have not subsided as yet. He suffers from dyspnoea (shortness of breath) on slight exertion. Pulse 112. There is no organic disease of the heart." Pragnell continued the doctor-recommended Home Service, as he assumed the duties of Commandant of the Canadian Military Training School at Crowborough, on January 23, 1917, serving six and half weeks, before assuming command of the British Columbia Regimental Depot, on March 10, 1917. His departure from the British Columbia Regimental Depot was announced in the Second Supplement to the London Gazette 30163 of Tuesday, July 3, 1917, on Wednesday, July 4, 1917, page 6657: Temporary Lieutenant Colonel A. Bruce Powley, from a Canadian Infantry Battalion was to be Temporary Lieutenant Colonel and to command a depot, the vice being Pragnell, effective April 27, 1917. He was posted six weeks later as Officer Commanding the 24th Reserve Battalion at Seaford, on April 21, 1917, with the 24th Reserve Battalion being absorbed by the 1st Reserve Battalion at Seaford, on May 20th and Pragnell named Officer Commanding and assuming command of the 1st Reserve Battalion on July 31st. He is documented as having been on command at a Senior Officers' Course at Chelsea, on October 31, 1917 and being on command for duty in France, between February 2nd and the 9th, 1918 but did not end up serving on the continent for health reasons. In his Proceedings of a Medical Board Report, dated February 21, 1918 at Seaford, it was noted by the doctors that Pragnell's condition had improved: "This officer does not complain of feeling of exhaustion he had when last boarded. He has been playing golf and can do 18 holes without feeling over tired. Has no feeling of nervousness as complained of in last board. Exam:- Pulse 104 standing, no murmurs present, myocardial tone below par. Reflexes normal. General condition fair." His tenure with the 1st Reserve Battalion concluded on June 29, 1918, upon his posting to Headquarters at Bramshott on June 29th, for duty with the President of Court Martials. It was here that he was appointed as Officer in Charge of a Court Martial with effect, on August 6th. Pragnell was re-examined at West Cliff Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital at Folkestone, on August 26, 1918, the nose and throat issues still plaguing him, but the doctors felt that he was making progress. Eight months later, he was admitted to Military Hospital at Ripon, North Yorkshire, on April 24, 1919, where he was diagnosed with a case of Synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane, which lines the joints. The joints possess cavities, known as synovial joints. The condition is usually painful, particularly when the joint is moved, with the joint usually swelling due to synovial fluid collection) in his right knee. After two weeks treatment, he was discharged on May 9th. Pragnell ceased to be attached to Headquarters at Bramshott, effective August 9th and was struck off strength of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, embarking for Canada aboard the S.S. Orduna, on September 6, 1919. He was discharged upon general demobilization, at Dispersal Area F, Occupation Group 28, Military Headquarters, Military District No. 4 in Ottawa, on September 24, 1919, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, credited with having served in Canada, England and France, as a Major with D Company 5th Battalion, the 32nd Battalion, and as a Lieutenant Colonel on the General List at Shorncliffe Camp Headquarters, with the 1st Depot Battalion, British Columbia Regimental Depot, the 24th Reserve Battalion, the 1st Reserve Battalion and the Canadian Training Division. For his First World War Service, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, entitled to wear the War Service Badge, Class "A". He stated his proposed residence as Victoria, British Columbia. He was also awarded the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration. After the war, he returned to Kamloops, where in March 1920, he was established as President of the Great War Veterans' Association in Kamloops. Pragnell was appointed Major and placed in second-in-command of the 5th Regiment, British Columbia Light Horse at Kamloops, on January 7, 1921, followed by an appointment to Lieutenant Colonel in command of the regiment, on February 1, 1923. Under Pragnell's auspices, the regiment was re-organized in April 1923, in order to increase the efficiency and to bring the various squadrons to full strength. The logic was that the interior of the province was where a mounted unit should flourish and that many men with experience as riders would welcome an opportunity to join such an organization. It proved fruitful. During his time with the regiment, his talents were well-recognized, as he was appointed Inspector of Indian Agencies, on June 1, 1923. After four years with the 5th Regiment, British Columbia Light Horse, he left the regiment on January 31, 1927. The town of Kamloops and its surrounding district paid tribute to the 189 men ho gave their lives during the Great War, erecting the Cenotaph in Memorial Park, at a cost of $7,000. The unveiling of the Cenotaph took place on May 25, 1925, with Lieutenant Colonel Pragnall, D.S.O. performing the honours, acting for Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Vicars, who was present at the ceremony but whose wife had recently died, with Vicars deferring to Pragnell. George S.T. Pragnell was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 2nd Reserve Regiment, British Columbia Light Horse, on February 1, 1927 and after four years' service, retired and was placed on the Reserve Officers List, on February 1, 1931. Lieutenant Colonel Pragnell was also Inspector of Indian Agencies for the Kamloops area. In the Kamloops Standard of Thursday, December 24, 1931, it documents Pragnell's address to the Kamloops City Council on the 23rd, in regards to having downstairs offices for the Indian Department in the uptown Federal Building. It was suggested that the Indians "might come in by the back door", with Pragnell emphasizing that by having the Department in the building, that it would be a savings to the ratepayers, "in that one building and not two would have to be cared for, fueled and staffed". He estimated that there would be approximately 180 Indians using its services, which meant few visitors at one time to the office. He denied that they were ever a nuisance when they came to town, nor had there been any complaints against them. Although there was the occasional case of drunkenness, Pragnell clearly stated that this also applied to the caucasian population: "I claim it isn't quite fair of the council to discriminate against the Indians." George and Martha Pragnell left Canada in April 1939 for a trip to the Old Country, but circumstances prevented their return to Kamloops. His wife, Martha, died on March 21, 1954 at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, Ireland, followed thirty-four months later by George Pragnell's death, on January 15, 1957, at Bagenalstown, at the age of 76. The couple had one daughter, Audrey Pragnell of Bagenalstown.