Private Vivian BIGGIN
 

Regiment/Service:
Worcestershire Regiment
Unit:
3rd Battalion
Service Number:
41949
Date of Death:
22 March 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
19
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
Morchies Memorial 5



Personal History:


Vivian was born at Bennett Street, Buxton on the 22nd January 1899, the son of George (Ostler & Groom) and Mary (née Cavill) Biggin, later of 8 Friar Grove, Heath Grove, Buxton. He had six older siblings, Harriett Ann, Ethel, Jessie, George, Percy Lindley [see Footnote below] and Florence Elsie, (1901 Census RG 13/3269) and a younger brother, Walter, born in 1902.

Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/21235) Vivian was at School in Fairfield and the family was living at Marlow Street, Fairfield Road, Buxton.

Military History:
Vivian enlisted in the Worcestershire Regiment at Buxton, probably in 1917. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star Medal. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were.

Bearing in mind his age when he died - just 19 - Vivian could not have been in France more than a few months. The 3rd Battalion had originally entered France in the early days of the War and on 10th November 1915 had transferred to 74th Brigade in 25th Division. During The Battle of St Quentin (a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918) - 21st - 23rd March 1918 - the 74th Brigade was ordered to support 51st (Highland) Division on the Bapaume-Cambrai road in response to 'Kaiserschlacht' -  the German Spring Offensive which commence on the 21st March.

Early that morning Vivian's Battalion came under heavy gun and shell fire and around 12.00 p.m. they were ordered to advance in support of the Highland Division in order to counter-attack the enemy advance. The War Diary shows that the Battalion advanced along the Fremicourt - Beugny road and, under heavy shell fire, deployed astride the road and lay down.

At 6.15 that evening the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, were ordered to advance on the village of Morchies and dig in behind the existing trenches. The Battalion came under heavy fire and 3 Officers and 14 men were killed and 1 Officer and 49 men wounded.

On the morning of the 22nd March the Third Army continued to hold off ferocious German assaults until mid-afternoon when its centre was forced back producing scenes of disarray on the Bapaume-Cambrai road. More seriously the Fifth Army, under incessant pressure began to show signs of collapse. No longer holding a continuous front, extensive enemy infiltration between its units destroyed any semblance of co-ordinated defence, resulting in a series of never-ending small retirements. British casualties were heavy and the Germans were through the Reserve Line by evening.

At some time during the fighting Vivian was killed in action. There were 26 other 3rd Battalion soldiers killed on 22nd March 1918. Vivian is one of only two to have a gravestone, nearby in Morchies Cemetery. However, his actual grave is one of the 74 which are unidentified and he is named on one of the 8 Special Memorials to men who are known to be buried among them. Of the declared ages of the men that died the same day, all but two were 18 or 19 years old. The other two were just 20.

The inscription by the Special Memorial read:
"To the memory of those British Soldiers,
     Killed in action in 1918 and buried
at the time at Morchies, but whose graves
               are now lost."
   "Their Glory shall not be blotted out"


Footnote:
· Vivian's brother, Pt. Percy Lindley BIGGIN, enlisted into The Sherwood Foresters - Pte 26352. He
  transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment - Pte 60808 - and then to the Lancashire Fusiliers -
  Pte 65086. He was wounded and received the Silver War Badge, No 494881, awarded in October 1919,
  for 'Sickness', after he re-enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment. Percy married Alice Maud Gladys
  Coster and on 28 September 1913 they had a son, who they named Vivian.

· Pt. George KIRKHAM - of the 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, was also killed in action
  on the same day as Vivian

Commemorated on:
Vivian is also commemorated on his parents' grave in Fairfield Churchyard [see right]

Link to CWGC Record
Pt. Vivian Biggin's Grave
poppy
The Inscription reads: "Dearly loved son of the above. Fell in action March 22nd 1918, aged 19"