of John and Sarah Wiggins of Horsefair, Wetherby.
Joseph was born at Wetherby in 1887 to parents John, occupation a Painter, and Sarah Wiggins, the family residing
in premises located in Bank Street.
Census records at this period that aged 13 years, Joseph had found employment as an Errand Boy/Porter however his employer
is not known. By 1911 and now the eldest of eight children, Joseph had followed his fathers vocation is now recorded as a
House Painter/Decorator, the family now recorded as residing in premises located in Horsefair.
Little information survives as to Joseph's early life however an ambiguous
source in the form of a photograph would suggest that he possessed a certain sporting prowess and played football for one
of the many flourishing clubs in the town. This would appear to be a family trait as more concise information in the form
of a newspaper article dated October 1914 records that his brother, 'Willy,' played football for the Wetherby Corinthians.
With regards to the Wiggins family and their
contribution of manhood to the Great War, a newspaper article dated May 1918 records that four sons had enlisted. The aforementioned
article records the wounding and hospitalization of Daniel, aged about 19 years at this juncture, the death in 1915 of Joseph
at Gallipoli, and then two further sons, one discharged after being wounded in the same campaign and another who as a result
of the War had lost an arm. In the absence of any surviving service documents it is difficult to ascertain the exact service
of the two remaining sons but an analysis of Serial Numbers issued to one 'Tom' (Thomas, Tommy) Wiggins, 1480, 'suggests'
a pre-war Wetherby enlistment into the 5th West Yorkshire Regiment, of 'Willy,' the October 1914 Wetherby Corinthians
article states service with the Northumberland Fusiliers.
We can however build a more concise picture as to Daniels military service due to surviving documentation. Enlisting
into the Reserve due to his age, 18 years and 1 month, Daniel, a Horse Slaughterer by trade, enlisted at Harrogate on the
7th September 1917. Initially serving with the 6th Training Reserve Battalion located at Rugeley, Staffordshire, and then
the 53rd Young Soldiers Battalion at Brocton Camp also located in Staffordshire, he was posted overseas on the 5th April 1918
to join the ranks of the 8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. His time at the front would appear to be of a short duration
as on the 19th of the month he was admitted to the 2/2nd West Riding Field Ambulance attached to the 62nd (West Riding) Division
and then posted to the 12th General Hospital located at Rouen on the 23rd. Once again, a rather ambiguous paper located in
Daniel's documents describe some 'event' that resulted in "Spleen, palpable, possible shell-shock."
As further documents record more medical conditions with chronology, I can only assume this was the scenario that resulted
in his eventual evacuation to the United Kingdom on the 25th April 1918.
Posted to the Depot of the Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Daniel's war was still not over as in October of 1918 he
was once again posted overseas to join the ranks of the 15th/17th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Plagued by ill health
and constantly being treated for hemorrhoids in November 1918 between periods of hospitalization Daniel was transferred to
the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment eventually being sent home to the United Kingdom in March 1919 where he was struck
off the strength of the Battalion whilst being a patient at Dewsbury War Hospital.
For at least one of the sons of the Wiggins family, he had come through the Great War relatively unscathed.
Recruitment & Attestation
Joseph attested for service at York (Source: Soldiers Died In The Great
War) however the exact date is unclear. The terms of his enlistment were that of a Short Service obligation,
i.e., three years with the Colours however it was stated that should the War last longer than three years the recruit would
be retained until the cessation of hostilities. Why Joseph did not enlist at Wetherby in the first instance is unclear due
to the absence of any surviving service documents but in the course of this commemoration, the Author will continue with the
procedures that enlisted many a man into the British Army with particular reference to those who joined at Wetherby Town Hall
on or about the 31st August 1914.
As the men waited in turn to enlist, Army protocol dictated had the prospective recruit received Notice and understood
its meaning and who gave the Notice to them. On confirmation by the potential recruit Army Form B. 2065 was at first signed
by Rowland Meyrick, the issuer of the Notice before recruitment could commence. The latter had proved to be very brisk principally
due to the efforts of a number of individuals but it was Mr. Rowland Meyrick of Hall Orchards, a Land Agent for the Montague
estates that was the major protagonist encouraging many a young Wetherby man to "take the King's shilling."
A newspaper article dated September 1914 provides
an insight into his activities as an Unpaid Recruitment Officer;
"Day and night he worked with the greatest enthusiasm and wherever young men were, in the cottage, in the
harvest field and street, there he was to be found, exercising his persuasive powers and the young men answered nobly to his
Some men at first however,
had their reservations on joining the Colours;
One young fellow, anxious to enlist, was troubled about throwing up his work and he went to Mr. Meyrick. Would
he guarantee him work when he returned home? The answer was thoroughly satisfactory, and the young fellow is probably now
clad in khaki. That is the way to get recruits."
Concerns prior to enlistment were also raised for the soldiers dependants, therefore, Wetherby Steeplechase Committee
made the following offer to both stimulate and encourage recruitment. A further newspaper article dated September 1914 declared;
"The Wetherby Steeplechase
Committee have announced that they will give 1 shilling a week each to the wives of men who have joined the Colours, and any
others volunteering in the town, in order to augment the Army allowance while they are on service."
Agreeing that he now understood the terms of his engagement, the man now
declared that all his answers to questions declared on the Army Form were true and that he was willing to fulfill the engagements
made. On the signing of this document, the latter was witnessed by John McEvitt, a former soldier who had served with the
1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers and a veteran of the Boer War. Former Colour Sergeant McEvitt in civilian life was the Caretaker
of the Conservative Club located in the Market Place who, although recorded in the 1911 Census as an Army Pensioner, fulfilled
the roll of Acting Recruitment Sergeant.
preliminary medical examination was now conducted by Lieutenant Harry Winstanley Shadwell of the Royal Army Medical Corps
to determine vital statistics; height, weight, expansion of the chest. Deemed 'fit' as the vast majority of men were
at this early stage of enlistment, the final signature that would approve the man for military service was that of the Approving
Officer, 14th Recruiting Area, Colonel Harold P. Ditmas, late Durham Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia). That final signature
would witness over forty-five recruits from the locality joining the ranks of the fledgeling 9th (Service) Battalion, West
Yorkshire Regiment, the first Service Battalion of the Regiment to be raised as a response to the outbreak of the Great War.
In the first week of September, the men prior
to leaving for the Regimental Depot located at York were entertained to a dinner by the townsfolk of Wetherby. After the event
and bidding their farewells, the men of 'Kitchener's Army' were conveyed to York in a fleet of motor-cars amidst,
what was described as, "much scenes of jubilation and enthusiasm."
Of the men, many would never return.
Formation Of The Battalion
The 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment was formed at York on the 25th August 1914 and designated a
K 1 Battalion as formed under Lord Kitchener's first 'Call to Arms,' an appeal for 100,000 men to join
the Army for three years or for the duration of the War between the ages of 19 and 30 years. The Battalion were contained
in the 11th (Northern) Division, a New Army Division which was formed under Army Order No. 324 published on the 21st August
1914. This order approved of the addition to the Army of six divisions; the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.
The 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel George Frend (attached from the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire's) were
contained in the 32nd Infantry Brigade that also comprised of the following units:
6th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
6th (Service) Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment
8th (Service) Battalion, West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellington's)
Brigadier-General Henry Haggard
Commander Major-General Frederick Hammersley C.B.
Basic training ensued for the recruits at the Regimental Depot where they became accustomed to the vagaries of life
in the British Army. Possibly the first blow to patriotic 'fervour' was the issuing of a Serial Number to each man,
an individual in civilian life but now a number throughout his service in the Army. It is of interest to note that the numbers
issued to the recruits from Wetherby follow no alphabetical sequence as is sometimes the case. An analysis therefore conducted
of this specific batch of numbers issued reveals that proceeding Joseph the number 17436 is unfortunately at present not traceable,
possibly due to the fact that the 'Wetherby' sequence of numbers issued follow more or less a specific pattern confirming
that Joseph did not attest for service in the town. The number 17438 following on from Joseph however was allocated to one
William Thompson, a native of Hawksworth, and a time expired soldier with the West Yorkshire Regiment with over 21 years with
the Colours. William had re-attested for service on the 19th February 1915, possibly, the same time as Joseph if the serial
numbers issued run concurrent. After a preliminary medical examination at Belton Park Grantham, Lincolnshire, Thompson was
taken on the strength of the Battalion at Witley Camp, near Godalming, Surrey, the Approving Officer being the then Officer
Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel John O'Brien Minogue. William, ascertaining the rank of Sergeant however would not depart
with the Battalion to the Dardanelles. In a certain irony as the latter departed the shores of the United Kingdom on the 1st
July 1916 for active service, William was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment and eventually discharged
in February 1919.
this juncture with the Depot processing more men that had answered the 'Call to Arms' was now fit to bursting point
with men. Therefore a move to larger training facilities located at Belton Park near Grantham, Lincolnshire, was initiated
in September by the 9th West Yorkshire's where they were joined by the remainder of the Brigade in Division.
Following this movement southwards, a second medical examination, more thorough
than the initial examination that had taken place on Attestation was carried out in mid October. Many men as a result of this
medical were discharged due to either being found medically unfit with conditions ranging from chronic bronchitis to a hernia,
or, just a lack of general ability. The latter men in Army 'parlance' were "Discharged not being likely to
become an efficient soldier," their departure being confirmed by the Adjutant, Captain Alexander Geary-Smith. An
analysis of Army Pension Records reveal that of the men who enlisted at Wetherby Town Hall in the heady days of August, 6
were medically discharged who had a direct link to the town in addition to one man from Kirk Deighton. Some of these discharged
men would however serve in some military capacity as the War progressed.
The winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 were most notably wet resulting in the camp at Belton Park turning into
a veritable quagmire. By the end of February all ranks had been issued 1914 Pattern Equipment, made under contract in the
United States and despite the constraints of the weather, the training programme proceeded apace.
By late March orders had been issued warning of an impending move away from
Lincolnshire. On the 5th April 1915, the 9th West Yorkshire's in Brigade and Division were ordered to entrain at Rugby,
the destination being Witley Camp, near Godalming, Surrey. Departing Belton Park on this date, the Brigade in Division proceeded
by route of march via Scalford, Thrussington and Whetstone reaching Rugby on the 8th. Here the 32nd Infantry Brigade commenced
entrainment during the following day after an eventful march. An account of this may be found in the Green Howards In
The Great War by H.C. Wylly. 'The Optimist' as the recorder of these events is referred to in the account
on Wednesday took us through Leicester where the Division was accorded a really wonderful reception; all work was suspended
and the streets were lined by an enthusiastic and cheering multitude who showered all kinds of gifts on the troops."
Settling down into their
new surroundings 'The Optimist' remarked that the change of the weather and that of the scenery was most
welcome. he also noted that the extensive heathland and commons so characteristic of the area proved to be more conducive
for military manoeuvres as the men were about to experience.
Witley Camp consisted at this stage of the War primarily of tented accommodation with just a few huts being erected
however the camp would rapidly expand and become more permanent as the conflict progressed.
On the 1st May 1915 the 11th (Northern) Division played host to two most
distinguished visitors, namely His Majesty the King who was also accompanied by Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War.
After inspecting the men, the following Divisional Order was issued an extract of which is quoted in Wylly's History;
the King has desired the G.O.C. to convey to the troops his appreciation of the splendid appearance and steadiness of the
men on parade yesterday. His Majesty also remarked on the good condition of the horses. Finally His Majesty said to the G.O.C.,
"It has been a very great pleasure to me to see such a splendid body of men, and I desire you to so inform the troops."
In early May the Battalion
had also witnessed a change in command whereupon Colonel Frend was replaced by another officer from the ranks of the 3rd Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment, one Lieutenant-Colonel John O'Brien Minogue. An experienced officer who had risen through the
ranks, Minogue had served with a variety of regiments during the course of his service career however the Colonel did possess
an affiliation to the West Yorkshire Regiment dating back to 1893.
Towards the end of June there must have been rumours of an impending move to active service circulating as the American
pattern equipment previously issued to the men was replaced by the British made 1908 Pattern Webbing. Suspicions were no doubt
aroused further when all the men were issued with khaki drill and helmets of the 'Foreign Service' variety, the latter
also referred to as the 'Pagri.'
and the men of the West Yorkshire's were soon to have their suspicions confirmed when orders were issued to the 32nd Infantry
Brigade at 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 31st June 1915 to prepare for entrainment the following day. Wherever the men suspected
they were heading they definitely knew that the climate was to be hot due to the types of equipment issued. The exact destination
however was unknown to the Other Ranks of the Battalion, but orders dictated that the West Yorkshire's were now bound
for the Dardanelles to play their part in trying to break the stalemate that had now developed on the Peninsula. For a comprehensive
account of the actions of the 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment during the Dardanelles Campaign the reader
may wish to follow this link: