Jul 21, 2014

Arthur Geraldton HIGGS - 1894 - 1916

Arthur Geraldton HIGGS was born in Armadale on 6th October 1894.

He was the son of John Thomas Higgs [1860 - 1932] and Sarah Ann Norman [1857 - 1923]
John and Sarah married in Toorak in October 1881 and had seven known children. All of them being born in Victoria until  the last child - Hazel Gladys Higgs - who was born in Western Australia in 1899.

Arthur first enlisted at Drouin in December 1914 but after training with the 13th Light Horse Regiment he was discharged as medically unfit in May 1915.

In July 1915, Arthur Geraldton Higgs re-enlisted in the AIF in Perth, Western Australia, allocated to the 11th Battalion (9th reinforcements) and was given the service number of 2778. At this time his parents were living in Belgrave, Victoria.

Arthur was described as being 24 years & 9 mths of age, was 5 feet and 11 inches tall and weighed 184 lbs. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and auburn hair.  He had a scar on his right thumb and his occupation was that of a farmer.

At his medical examination on 28th September 1915 at Blackboy Hill in Perth, he was declared fit for active service and so was ready to follow his brother - Harold Henry Higgs - who enlisted in the AIF in August 1914 - to Europe.

above: H.M.A.T. HORORATA.

October 1 1915

Embarked at Fremantle on H.M.A.T. HORORATA

January 5 1916
on board "EMPRESS OF BRITTAIN" arrived off Alexandria at 0800, entered harbour and berthed at 1400. Disembarked and entrained at 1930 for Kel-el-Kebir......

March 15 1916
appointed Lance-Corporal

March 30 1916
at Alexandria, Battalion sailed for Marseilles.

May 20 1916
At Sailly-Sur-Lys, France, the Battalion less transport moved into the firing line with 27 Officers, 929 OR (Other Ranks)...

June 1 1916
at the front line, enemy quiet, but a few bombs were sent into our lines.....

July 10 1916
At Meteren. The Battalion received orders to entrain at Godewaersvelde at 4.53am on 11th July, destination at that time was unknown.....

July 18 1916
At Rubempre, Battalion plus first line transport moved to Forceville until 4.00pm 19 July.....

July 19 1916
At Forceville. The Battalion moved via Albert to the firing line at Pozieres section and took over from one company of the Durham Light Infantry.....

July 22 1916
"On the night of of 22/23 the 11th Battalion, in co-operation with the 9th Battalion on the right and the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade on its left and supported by the 12th Battalion, attacked the enemy before Pozieres"


For three days, 24 to 26 July 1916, the Germans relentlessly bombarded Pozières. The aim of this concentrated shelling was not simply to prepare for a counter–attack but to inflict as much damage and loss on the Australians as possible. Also shelled were the approaches to the village, by which vital supplies entered and hundreds of walking wounded and stretcher–bearers carrying the severely injured exited. 

One of these approaches was the ‘sunken road’, which reached Pozières from the countryside to the south–west on the other side of the main road just opposite First Australian Division Street. Enemy shells rained down on the village’s main street and along the ‘sunken road’ for most of 24 July. 

above: the Battle of Pozieres - 1916

"Our casualties during the operation were: 68 killed 369 wounded and 92 missing".

In this inferno the ‘sunken road’ became known as ‘Dead Men’s Road’. Bodies lay along its flattened banks; trees were uprooted and turned into stumps; over everything lay the dust of explosions. Such situations can bring out the best in men and one who came to the fore was Private Edward Jenkins, age 44, a 3rd Battalion stretcher–bearer. On his enlistment papers in 1915 he had described himself as a ‘bushman’ and Charles Bean described Jenkins as ‘one who had constantly been in hot water when out of the line’. 

During the worst of the bombardment on 24 July Jenkins was observed constantly caring for the wounded with the ‘uttermost tenderness’, giving them the last of his water, refusing water himself when it was brought up so that the wounded could have it, raising little shelters for them and trying to remove them safely out of danger. Captain James Harris, 3rd Battalion, felt Jenkins saved many lives that day and that all of those he rescued were safely evacuated and lived.

That evening, Jenkins himself ‘when taking a dixie of tea to the sufferers’ was blown to pieces by a shell.

Most of the men of the 11th Battalion who died under the German bombardment of Pozières on 25 July 1916 – 48 soldiers – were never found.

Their names are commemorated on the walls of the Australian National Memorial at Villers–Bretonneux but their remains lie somewhere in the soil to the north–east of modern day Pozières.

Arthur Geraldton Higgs was killed in action sometime between the 22nd and 25th July in 1916, and was one of the 48 men of the 11th Battalion that was never found.

Wed 25 July 1917 in the Argus newspaper

HIGGS,- In loving memory of Lance Corporal

Arthur Geraldton Higgs who was killed in action in France July 25 1916 youngest dearly loved son of John and Annie Higgs and loved brother of Eva (Mrs. McKernan) Richard, George. Harold (on active service) and Hazel.

His King and country called him. 

The call was not in vain

On Australia's roll of honour 

You will find dear Arthur's name

He nobly did his duty.

(Inserted by his loving parents, brothers and sisters ) (West Australian papers please copy )

image taken at the AWM in Canberra - Oct 2013


Arthur Geraldton Higgs' name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the AWM on:

  • Sat 16 August, 2014 at 1:01 am
  • Mon 29 September, 2014 at 3:35 am
  • Fri 21 November, 2014 at 3:50 am
  • Thu 15 January, 2015 at 3:53 am
  • Sun 8 March, 2015 at 9:18 pm
  • Thu 23 April, 2015 at 7:46 pm
  • Thu 4 June, 2015 at 2:16 am
  • Sat 11 July, 2015 at 7:13 pm

These dates and times are estimates. The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

with grateful thanks to the following for extra information that I have included in this blog posting:

National Archives of Australia

Australian War Memorial

Australians on the Western Front


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post Leone! My Grandfather, Arthur Thomas Herbert Roberts, from the 2nd Battalion, was severely injured at the battle of Poziers between the 22nd and the 25th of July. He had shrapnel in-bedded in his temple (never removed), but survived to fight again. Much luckier than most.