Herbert Abbott Briggs

S4/060398 Private, Royal Army Service Corps, later B/202261 Rifleman, 11th Battalion Rifle Brigade

Army Service Corps cap badge, WW1
Army Service Corps cap badge, WW1
Rifle Brigade Cap Badge, WW1
Rifle Brigade Cap Badge, WW1

Herbert Briggs is one of the men named on the Bottesford Methodists Roll of Honour, and also one of the men on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 servicemen.

Family background

Herbert Abbott Briggs was born 2 March, 1890, in Bottesford, and baptised on the 25th May. He was the third son of Thomas Briggs, a railway platelayer born in 1859 in Bottesford. His mother, Annie Maria, was born in 1861 at Millfield, Nottinghamshire (or at Peterborough, according to the Census of 1911).

In 1891, the family lived in one of the cottages at The Green, in Bottesford. They had five children by this date: Arthur (8), Alice (7), Ernest W (5), Harriett (3) and Herbert, just one year old. By 1901 they had moved to one of the ‘Bunkers Hill’ cottages, Easthorpe, and the children at home were Earnest (aged 15), Harriett (12), Herbert Abbott (11), Thomas (4) and Joseph Cecil (1). All the children were born in Bottesford.

In 1902, Herbert was awarded a County Junior Scholarship and was placed as 5th in the county.

In 1911 the family was listed as living on Station Road, though this may well still have been the same Bunkers Hill cottage. Herbert was single, aged 21, working as a railway clerk.

Service records

Herbert Briggs, a 24 years old railway clerk, enlisted at Aldershot on the 23rd February, 1915, as Private S4//060398, Royal Army Service Corps. The Grantham Journal reported in March, 1915, that he was at Aldershot “assisting in the charge of the petrol stores at the mechanical transport works”.

He traveled to France in July, 1915, and joined No.4 Coy 9th Division (ASC), and as such was part of the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to 1918, deployed as a train driver in 1916 and 1917.

Herbert was promoted to Corporal on the 27th March, 1917. On the 30th July, 1917, while home on leave, he married Bertha Desborough Gidman, in West Bridgford. Later that year, on the 17th December, 1917, he was compulsorily transferred to the 11th Battalion Rifle Brigade, becoming Rifleman B/202261.

On the 25th May, 1918, the Grantham Journal reported: “Missing – Mr and Mrs T Briggs are much concerned about their son, Herbert, who was serving in France at the beginning of the great offensive. He is known to have been alright on 24th March, but his relatives have had no tidings of him since Easter. Herbert joined the A.S.C. about three years ago, and was transferred to a London infantry Regiment a few months since.

He had been taken prisoner at Bethencourt on the 24th March, 1918. Bethencourt-sur-Somme is a village located on the banks of the River Somme 26 km west of St Quentin, in the area where intense fighting took place during the Spring Offensive. On the 22nd June, 1918, the Grantham Journal was able to add that there was confirmation that he was a prisoner of war. His wife received news that he had been in German hands since 24th March. He said that he was not wounded, luckily, had been well treated, and that he could not complain about the food, adding that he would send an address when he was settled in a camp.

He was probably repatriated after the armistice, and was demobilised and discharged from the army on the 4th April, 1919.

In 1920, Herbert Briggs was awarded the 1914-1915 Star and the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The entries in the Medal Roll and his Medal Index Card state that he had fought in France, and that at the end of the war he was Corporal B/202261 11th Rifle Brigade, and had earlier been Private S4/060398 in the RASC.

After the end of the war

In 1921, the couple were living at 57 Byron Road, West Bridgford, and in February 1921 were at Abbey Lane, Aslockton. Electoral Rolls also record Herbert and Bertha at Abbey Lane, Aslockton, in 1923 and 1926. The 1939 Register places them at Kenley Rockley Avenue, Bingham, Notts, where Herbert, again a railway clerk, lived with Bertha (who, it states, was born in November, 1891), Kenneth H Briggs, an audit clerk (accountant) born 25th February, 1921, and Richard D Briggs, a electrical engineer/clerk born 29th September 1920. Kenneth and Richard were presumable Herbert and Bertha’s unmarried sons.

Herbert died in 1973, aged 83, his death registered in Nottingham.

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