NEXT week the Daily Echo is publishing stories to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War on August 4.
On Wednesday our Echoes section will be a special WW1 edition, as will Saturday’s Seven Days magazine, with features on the conflict from at home and abroad. Today we tell the story of Frederick Riggs, VC.
TWO former members of staff at a Bournemouth school have spoken of the ‘emotional moment’ they found a World War One soldier’s final resting place.
Jill Clark and Yvonne Mountford, who both used to work at Malmesbury Park Primary School in Charminster, were inspired to make the journey to Northern France after reading a plaque in the school hall, commemorating Sergeant Frederick Riggs’ brave service.
Sergeant Riggs of 6th battalion, the Royal York and Lancaster Regiment, was killed while leading his men against a German attack near the village of Epinoy in Northern France on the morning of October 1, 1918.
He led his platoon through strong uncut wire under severe fire and captured a machine gun, later handling two captured guns and caused the surrender of fifty enemy soldiers before he was sadly killed resisting an attack.
He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Sergeant Riggs had previously served in Gallipoli and Egypt, and had been awarded the Military Medal after being badly wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He also received the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.
Born on July 28, 1888, he is described in the 1891 census as an orphan, living in Garfield Avenue, Springbourne.
In the 1901 Census, he is described as the son of Ann Riggs, who was living locally in lodgings.
According to the entry in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission roll of honour, he was the adopted son of Elizabeth Burgum, of 39 Capstone Road, Bournemouth, which is apparently borne out by the Burgum family records.
A pupil at Malmesbury Park School, he went to work at Pickfords, the removal company after leaving, before enlisting in the army in 1914.
It was the bronze plaque in the school hall which led both Mrs Clark and Mrs Mountford to discover his name was one of more than 9,000 recorded on the memorial at Vis-en-Artois, on the Arras-Cambrai road and close to the spot where he tragically died.
After visiting the cemetery, Jill said: “We feel we have in a very small way said our thanks not only to Frederick Riggs but also to all our countrymen who died fighting in this terrible war.”
Yvonne added: “It is important that everyone is aware of how they suffered in their struggle for freedom.”
The house at 39 Capstone Road was demolished some years ago, but a blue commemorative plaque has been place on the wall at Number 45.
Sergeant Riggs is also commemorated by Riggs Gardens at Wallisdown.