Wilfred Higgins is my third cousin, thrice removed. He was born circa 1881 in Barnsley and according to the 1911 Census was a Colliery Labourer and lived at 10 Clayfield Road in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Special thanks are owed to Trevor Higgins for writing the following text:-
Wilf was a member of the 2nd Btn Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who arrived in France and was involved in the battles at Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and in support of the Canadians in the First Battle of Ypres,at St Julian. On the 4th May 1915, the Btn was withdrawn from Ypres and were ordered to march to Hill 60 at Zwartleen. They were to assist in a counter attack to retake the Hill from the Germans.
Hill 60 was not naturally formed, but a spoil heap created by the Belgians in the construction of the Ypres to Comines railway line. It was named so by the British because it was 60 metres above sea level. Strategically, it was very important to anyone holding it because of the panoramic views of Ypres and the surrounding area. It had been taken from the French in 1914, and was fought for several times.
At 2.30 am on the 7th May, Wilf’s Btn. attacked the forward trenches of the Germans. and within 100 metres, 21 soldiers were killed, from machine gun fire. The btn pressed on taking the first trench after close combat fighting, and carried on forwards. As dawn broke it became evident that although the salient to the hill had been taken, the hill itself was still held by the Germans, and the British withdrew.
The casualties for this attempt were 21 killed in action, 116 wounded and 40 were missing. Of all the soldiers killed in this action, and future ones, none of the bodies were ever recovered. They were buried in the trenches, both British and German alike, and remain in the soil today. Hill 60 is considered a mass war grave cared for by the CWGC.
This is a revised version of a post which was originally published on my WordPress Blog on 06/01/2010 and republished on Mollekin Portalite on 10/05/2011. Special thanks are also owed to Dawn Stancliffe for donating the photo of James for this post.