Title - Walter Briggs

Walter Briggs Walter was born to Wilfred and Elizabeth Ellen Briggs at Argyle Street, Accrington on 24th August 1896, and christened just over five weeks later at St. John's Church. The 1911 census shows the family to be living at 233 Blackburn Road, Accrington: Wilfred (aged 40, a watchmaker and dealer by profession), Elizabeth Ellen (39), daughters Alice Johanna (16) and Maggie (11), sons Walter (14, an apprentice fitter) and Robert (1), and father William (67).

Left: Walter Briggs, prior to the outbreak of war. Photograph by kind courtesy of Enid and Stuart Briggs.

When recruitment of the Accrington Pals began on 14th September 1914, Walter was employed as an apprentice at Howard and Bullough's machine works; two days later he enlisted into the battalion despite being underage. Walter was described as being 5ft 6½in (1.69m) tall with a fair complexion, blue-grey eyes and dark hair. Regardless of his youth, Walter was evidently quick to show leadership qualities, for he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in W Company as early as 26th March 1915 while the battalion was still at Caernarvon.

Right: Walter Briggs in Melton Blue uniform. Photograph by kind courtesy of Enid and Stuart Briggs.

Walter Briggs

Postcard - Front Postcard - Back

Above: Postcard sent to Walter by his fiancée, Amelia Battersby. The postcard was found in Walter's belongings and was returned to the family; it is reproduced here with the kind permission of Enid and Stuart Briggs.

Walter Briggs Less than two years later, at a few minutes before 7.30 on the morning of 1st July 1916, W Company left its blown-in trenches and took up position in No Man's Land in readiness for the attack on Serre. No-one knows what happened to Walter thereafter; recorded as missing after the battle, his body could not be identified when the remains of the dead were recovered from the battlefield following the German withdrawal from Serre in February 1917. It is quite possible that along with Capt. Harry Livesey he fought his way into the German lines and was killed there in the desperate close-range fighting that followed.

Left: Walter Briggs. Photograph by kind courtesy of Enid and Stuart Briggs.

On Friday 14th July, Wilfred received a letter written a week earlier by Cpl. Will Adams. It told of Walter being missing since the attack, despite everything having been done by his officers and comrades to trace him.

Walter Briggs is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

© Andrew C Jackson 2008, 2020

My thanks go to Enid and Stuart Briggs for making this article possible.

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