Edwin Vigrass (c.1896-1917)

An ongoing project to commemorate and research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the local area, who served in the military, or whose deaths were linked to conflict.
Edwin Vigrass

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

VIGRASS, EDWIN. Corporal. No 36166. 9th Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Formerly TR/5/56362 84th Training Reserve Battalion. Born Marsh, Huddersfield. Son of Mr and Mrs T H Vigrass, 19 Calton Street, Bradford Road, Huddersfield. Educated Spring Grove Council School. Was a Sunday School teacher at the Railway Mission. Employed as a heating engineer by Messrs T.A. Heaps and Company Limited. Enlisted April, 1916, in the 29th Reserve Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and trained at Hornsea. Remained at Hornsea with the 84th Training Reserve Battalion as a Corporal and Machine Gun Instructor. Embarked for France at the beginning of 1917. He was posted as a reinforcement to the 9th (Service) Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Reported missing, presumed killed, at Polygon Wood on 4.10.1917, aged 21 years. Has no known grave. Commemorated TYNE COT MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
ROH:- Marsh War Memorial.
The following summary of the attack in which Corporal Vigrass was killed was written by Captains A E Day and J H Frank who were there, leading their Companies:
On the night of the 2nd/3rd October the 9th Battalion moved from CLAPHAM JUNCTION and relieved the Leicesters in the front line in POLYGON WOOD. During the 24 hours that we spent in these trenches the Battalion suffered about 50 casualties. On the night of the 3rd/4th we took up battle positions and were in the assembly trenches by 5am. The 3rd/4th Queens were on our left, with the 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on our right. Twice during the night we were barraged at midnight and 5.30am. We were in position by 5am with our leading waves 50 yds. behind the road running north and south in J. 10.d. we were in touch with our flank battalions. Just before 6am all was more or less quiet, at Zero the barrage opened with a fearsome noise and we leapt from our shell holes and went forward in snake formation. It was the darkness that preceeds the dawn and one could recognise nobody. We are thankful to say that we got away from our assembly positions before the full force of the German barrage descended, but we were immediately subjected to a withering machine gun fire, men were falling right and left, but who cared? Our one idea was to get forward. JOIST FARM proved to be our first stumbling block and was a tough nut to crack. Even when our left had reached the swamp, lights were being fired at us from this point which was eventually mopped up by two sections of D. Coy. under Captain SYKES, and one section of B. Coy. under Sgt. Pyott. This place was found to contain one officer, twelve men and four machine guns. As soon as we left our assembly positions we found a party of D.C.L.I. crossing our front to the North, it is evident that this Battalion completely lost direction. The swamp proved a veritable death trap, we were up to our knees in slush and at the same time subjected to enfilade machine gun fire from the right. A small strong point not concreted and immediately on the west bank of the swamp we took by surprise and the garrison surrendered without firing a shot. On this same bank were a considerable number of German bivouacs constructed of 'elephants' and filled with Germans, more of these had been blown in by our bombardment. The remainder containing Germans were bombed by our men and the Germans shot as they ran out. On the East side the ground rose rapidly and contained a number of concreted strong points two of which were in our area. These fired at us until we were within 50 yds. The garrisons then surrendered, the majority of them being bombed and shot. The left strong point turned out to be Battalion H.Q. and was an elaborate concern. Each contained two machine guns. JUNIPER TRENCH was strongly held but the garrison preferred to retire rather than fight. 2nd Lieut. Spicer, by a quick manoeuvre, cut off the majority of these who gave themselves up to him. On the right the garrison showed a little more pluck and attempted to counter-attack us. They were immediately squashed by D. Coy. After attacking these strong points we received little opposition until our own objective was reached. All the troops of the Brigade were mixed up and we had a considerable number of Northumberland Fusiliers and Queen's with us. During the one hour and forty minutes bombardment we were considerably troubled by a strong point on the east edge of REUTEL which was eventually knocked out by a tank. It was at this time that we realised that our right flank was absolutely in the air. At the allotted time the remainder of the 10th and Northumberland Fusiliers attempted to go forward to the eastern extremity of the village. They were not successful and we dug in slightly in advance of our first objective i.e. 100yds in front of the road running N and S on the western extremity of the village.We were in touch with the Northumberland Fusiliers on our left. We were now joined by the remnants of one Coy. of the 15th Durham Light Infantry and one Coy. of the East Yorkshires. These we sent over to the right to form a defensive flank. It did not take the enemy long to realise our position because we were immediately subjected to a heavy bombardment which continued throughout the day. About noon the enemy commenced to advance up the valley out of the village of GHELUVELT and massed about the road in front of POLDERHOEK CHATEAU. They continued until about 3 in the afternoon. We should say that at least 3 battalions left the village. We sent out a party under Lieut. Spicer with two Lewis guns and one Vickers to flank the advancing enemy and got enfilade fire to bear upon them. Later in the day this party disappeared and that evening we searched the ground both to the right of us and in front of the village for signs of them or their bodies but found nothing. We can only conclude that they were cut off and probably taken prisoner.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission