Harry Riggs (1889-1920)

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This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.

Biography

Harry Riggs was born on 30 January 1889 in Bradford although his father, Harold Thomas Riggs, a stonemason, was from Lindley. He was baptised at Girlington parish church, Bradford, on 12 May 1889. A second child, Ethel, was born in early 1891 when the family were living in East Bowling. Bradford. Sadly, the children's mother, Sarah, died in 1893 and was buried at St. John's church, Bowling; Ethel died four years later.

By 1901, Harold had married again and lived with his new wife, Matilda, twelve-year-old Harry and a lodger, also a stonemason, at 63 Thorncliffe Street, in the centre of Lindley.

Harry was enrolled in the Zion Chapel Sunday School on Lidget Street on 16 November 1902 at the age of thirteen. His address was given as King Street, Lindley and his father's name as Thomas, occupation a "mason". Tom Riggs died in Huddersfield at the age of only 48 in the spring of 1903.

This would be about the right age for Harry's father. What happened to Harry's step-mother, Matilda, has proved impossible to find out, but in 1911, Harry was living with his widowed aunt, Annie Thorburn and her daughter Lucy Williamson in a two-roomed house, 158 Acre Street.

The exact relationship Annie shared with Harry is difficult to understand for certain: her single name was Williamson[1], neither Harry's father or mother shared this surname. Annie and her husband Fred lived at 158 Acre Street in 1901.

Nevertheless, Annie had given a home to Harry by 1911; he needed somewhere to live and she got help with the rent none of which rules out a relationship based on family ties. It may be that Harry was in fact Lucy's fiancé though as he never married this seems unlikely.

Annie, her daughter Lucy and Harry all worked in the card works along from their home on Acre Street.

Harry enlisted in the army on 3 September 1914, a day when record numbers men joined up across the country – a nationwide recruiting campaign was underway; in Huddersfield there was a big meeting at the Town Hall with national speakers. At least five other Lindley men who died enlisted that day. 7th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) was one of the local territorial battalions and was formed in Milnsbridge that September, no doubt of many of the men who put their names forward after the public meeting.

Harry's first Service Number was 1914.

After a period at coastal defences near Hull and Grimsby, the battalion went to France with the West Riding Division, landing in Boulogne on 14 April 1915.

Harry's Service Record is lost so we cannot be sure where he served but the Division did take part in the later stages of the Battle of the Somme. By 1917 the Division was in Flanders. Margret Stansfield says Harry was discharged for medical reasons on 7 July 1917. However, the Roll of Individuals Entitled to the War Badge says he was discharged due to "wounds". He was certainly "no longer fit for service".

It seems likely that he spent some time in hospital in England, possibly locally.

No records exist of his having received a pension but it seems likely that he would have been given some compensation, in the form of a pension. He died on 10 April 1920. His address was given as 158 Acre Street.

Harry was buried in St. Stephen's churchyard and is also remembered on the memorial inside the church. Since he has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission stone it probably means he died as a result of army service rather than from influenza, for example.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

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

RIGGS, HARRY. Private. No 305504. 1/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Born 30.1.1889. Lived 158 Acre Street, Lindley. Discharged from the army on medical grounds, 7.7.1917. Died at home, 10.4.1920. Buried St. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, LINDLEY. Grave location:- 21, H.
ROH:- St. Stephen's Church, Lindley; Huddersfield Drill Hall.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Links

Notes and References

  1. She'd obviously had Lucy while unmarried.