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Huggins, J.W., Pte., 1915

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Medal Index Card

In Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Belgium, is the Commonwealth War Grave of 2913 Private John Warwick Huggins, 'B' Company, 1/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who died on the 26th April 1915.

John Warwick 'Jack' Huggins was born on the 2nd June 1886 at Crosby Ravensworth, the youngest son of Isaac, died in 1893, [a publican], and Mary Jane Huggins, [nee Warwick], of 16, Roper Street, Whitehaven, Cumberland, England.

They had 6 children, Florence Annie, born 1875, Frederick W. born 1877, Edith H. born 1878, Jessie Ann born 1880 and Mary Eveline born 1885.

In 1891 the family were residing at the Crown Hotel.

Isaac ran the Crown Hotel at Eamont Bridge in Westmorland since about 1879. After he died, John's mother moved and was running the Central Hotel in 1901 at Whitehaven, then located in Duke Street.

In 1911 she is now running the Albion Hotel in King Street again in Whitehaven.

John was educated at the St James' National school at Whitehaven, and was trained at Bede College from 1905, and whilst there was very prominent in the playing field as a cricketer and footballer. In 1901, he states school teacher, he was in fact a pupil teacher at St James' National school. He was also a member of the Castle Eden Cricket Club. John was on the teaching staff of Wheatley Hill School. Whilst there he was residing in rented rooms at 5 Granville Terrace. Whilst at Bede College, he joined the 'B' Company of the 1/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

He was also a Professional football player for Reading, but despite a good goal scoring record of 6 goals in 31 matches he could not settle in the south and returned to Roker Park, and Sunderland Football Club. 1906/07, 1907/08 played for Sunderland, scoring two goals, one against Manchester United, and Sheffield United in February 1907. Season 1908/09 he played for Reading, who were then in the Southern League.

He also played for Bede College and Leadgate, in tthe summer he played cricket for Sunderland, Wheatley Hill and Castle Eden.

In May 1909 John was taken on as a teacher at Swansea Road Council School, Reading.

John enlisted into 'B' Company, 1/8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry at Durham on the 18th September 1914 with the service number 2913.

John after training was embarked with the rest of the Battalion at Folkestone, onboard the Onward, arriving at Boulogne on Tuesday 20th April 1915 at about 1am.

The Battalion were billeted in St Marie Capelle, near to Cassel, where the Headquarters of the French Second Army under General Foch was located. The battalion marched from Ypres to Boetleer Farm on the night of the 24th/25th April in response to the German Gas attack, to support the Canadians and the Suffolks. John was reported missing after the Battle of Boetleer's Farm, [2nd Battle of Ypres], in the Battalion History he is mentioned on page 25, "The shrapnel fire became more and more intense for a time, when it ceased and a bombardment with High explosive followed; fortunately many of the shells were 'duds. ' The farm building immediately behind was repeatedly hit, its stones being scattered in all directions. C.S.M., Lee with a party was sent down a hedge in an attempt to stop the Germans working up a strip of woodland, but all were soon killed or wounded. Heavy rifle-fire was still kept up, Lieutenant T. Callinan and Sergeant Price being very conspicuous at this time encouraging the men and directing fire. One of the Canadian machine-guns in action manned by Lance-Corporal R. H. Robson, [Robert Henry Robson, died of his wounds on the 4th May 1915, service nu 3019, originally from Catcote, West Hartlepool, enlisted at Durham], and Private J. Huggins, who had taken the gun over when all the Canadian gunners had become casualties, was eventually knocked out, Huggins being killed and Robson dying of his wounds a few days later at a German Dressing-station."

Information from the Red Cross indicated that he had been killed in action and buried by German soldiers at Wallemolen, near Roulers. He is now buried in Perth Cemetery, east of Ypres, his body having been moved from the German cemetery at Wallemolen after the war.

Source : 8th Battalion History

John Warwick Huggins is remembered at Durham in D47.013d page 323, on D47.017, D47.052, in D47.118, D47.126, D47.127, D47.141 and in D47.156a page 250, at Wheatley Hill on W114.03 and W114.06 and at Sunderland on S140.155. Also in the Universities at War web site.

Reading Football Club pays tribute.
WW1 Footballers
The CWGC entry for Private Huggins

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk