William Higgs 1892 - 1918
Labourer, Richmond Park
William Higgs was born in 1892 to William Higgs, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Rose in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. William, the father, died in 1892 and Rose married again to James Barnes, a general labourer and publican, in 1897. In 1901 they were employed as publicans and lived in the Portobello Arms in Chartridge, Buckinghamshire, along with William and his two brothers, three sisters and one half-sister. Also at the same address was his half-brother, Bertie C Wells, who Rose, née Wells, gave birth to in 1878 before her two marriages. In 1911 William, aged 19, was working for the Office of Works in Richmond Park as a labourer and boarding with his uncle, Benjamin Wells, the assistant superintendent of Richmond Park, who lived in White Ash Lodge.
From 21 August until 3 September 1918 the Second Battles of the Somme took place to recapture ground taken by the enemy earlier in the year. William was part of 22nd Battalion, London Regiment and on 1 September was billeted at Aderlu Wood approximately four miles from the front line. On that evening his battalion was given orders to form up the following morning at Bouchavesnes and prepare to take Monaster Trench. A half an hour before the attack, scheduled for 5.30 am, the “enemy put down a heavy barrage; evidently he had seen our troops forming up. Strong opposition was met and casualties heavy”. That day, 2 September, 22nd Battalion suffered five officers and 150 ordinary ranks either killed, wounded or missing. Private 738080 William Higgs was one of those who was killed in action that day.
His body is laid to rest at Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel-le-Grand, France in plot VII.D.24.