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William Henry Higham was born on 25 April 1899 in Bamber Bridge and baptised at St Saviour’s on 11 June.  His father was Thomas Higham (b. 1862 in Cuerden), a spinner in a cotton mill.  His mother was Ellen Ledger (b. 1965 in Bamber Bridge).  Thomas and Ellen were married at St Saviour’s in 1889, by which time they already had a daughter, Emma (b. 1888).  They went on to have another eight children: Ada (b. 1892), Amy (b. 1894), Lillie (b. 1896), Ethel (b. 1898), then William Henry, then Mary Ann (b. 1901) and finally Fred (b. 1907).  Ellen died in 1909, so in 1911 Thomas was bringing up his relatively young family on his own.  They lived at 25 Smith Street, Bamber Bridge, William was still at school.


William turned 18 in April 1917, so presumably that is when he enlisted, in the South Lancashire Regiment, where he was given service number 44291 and posted to 8th Battalion.  According to Army Regulations, William should not have been sent abroad until April of the following year, but according to his medal records, William was transferred from 8Bn South Lancs (who were disbanded in France in February 1918) to the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, where he was given a new service number, GS/83015, and posted to 1/3 Battalion.  I can’t make sense of the military records but as William is commemorated at Pozières we must assume he was killed on the Somme in the aftermath of Operation Michael, the first phase of the German Spring Offensive.  What we know for certain, though, is that he was killed on the day before his 19th birthday.


Rank:  Private

Service Number:  83015

Date of Death:  24/04/1918

Age: 18

Regiment/Service:  Royal Fusiliers, posted to 1st/3rd Bn, London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 19 to 21.


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