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John Higgins

Rank: Corporal
Townland: Slieve
Town/Village: Clondra
Civil Parish: Killashee
Catholic Parish: Killashee
Alternative Address: 8 Winter Street, Four Hill, Liverpool, Lancashire
Census 1901:
Census 1911:
Regiment/Unit: Leinster Regiment, 2nd (or 5th) Battalion; [Grenadier Guards, 1st Battalion]
Regiment Number: 5490; [10776]
Date of Death: 17-05-1918
Cause: Died of wounds, 51st Casualty Clearing Station, Merville, France
Memorial: Aire Communal Cemetery, Rue de Saint-Martin Aire, Pas-de-Calais, France

John was born in Co. Longford c. 1883, and grew up in Slieve, Clondra and worked as a labourer. By 1903 John had moved to England, and lived in both Liverpool. He married Elizabeth Rock(s), on the 31 July 1909  at St. Alban's, Liverpool**. By 1916 he had two children, James and Aileen. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave Elizabeth's address as Tubberaboure Cottage, Cabinteely, Co. Dublin at the time of his death.

John had a long military service, initially enlisting with the Grenadier Guards in Manchester at the age of 19 in 1903. His attestment shows that he was comparatively tall for the time, standing at just under 5' 11" (180cm). Higgins was remobilised for service in WW1 in August 1914. He served two terms in Belgium with the Grenadier Guards: November 1914 to September 1915 and October 1915 to March 1916. He likely took part in the First Battle of Ypres where only 204 members of the regiment remained. At the end of his first period of service in 1916, John transferred to rthe Leinster Regiment.  Chaplain Fr. Ambrose McGrath*** wrote to John's wife:

14th June 1918

My dear Mrs. Higgins,

Your kind letter of the 29th may reached me today at the 51C.C.S. Your dear husband Sergeant John Higgins of the Leinsters was brought here by one of the officers of his unit in the very early hours of the morning of the 17th May, Friday in the midst of a bombing outburst on the surroundings. He had come down from the line suffering from a gunshot wound to the right leg . Loss of blood and complete shock. His state was hopeless from the very beginning and i just had time to give him absolution. He died just aft

Parents Names: Son of John and Ellen Higgins* of Slieve, Clondra, Co. Longford.
Notes: John was one of seven children, including: William, Mary Anne, Margaret, James and Christy. *Ellen was likely Ellen Colgan, daughter of Michael Colgan of Rynmount.**Now a centre for indoor climbing. ***Many thanks to John's granddaughter, Carmel Forrestal, for sharing this letter with us and for providing additional information.

Link to CWGC entrylink to Soldiers' Wills; Grenadier Guards overview; read Ponsonby's The Grenadier Guards in the Great War Vols 1-3; 

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