Wilfred Hagger

Birth Date:
Death Date:
01 07 1916
Service Branch:
Service Number:

Wilfred Haggar Born 1894 Conisborough, Yorkshire and died in 1916. He was 5ft 4 and three quarter inches tall, weighed 133lb and had a ‘good’ level of physical development with a pulse rate of 76 when he joined the army. He had a fully expanded chest measurement of 34 and a half inches, a pale complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was one of sixteen children (11 of whom survived) born to Newman Thomas Haggar and Eva Kelly. He was the fourth child, and the third son. His elder brothers Newman (known by his middle name Joseph) and Robert (Bob) also fought in WW1, along with younger brother Thomas who also died in March 1918, having fought in the Royal Garrison Artillery. Brother in law Harry Wilburn, who married Newman and Eva’s eldest child, daughter Mary (Alice) also fought in the war and died in April 1917. Wilfred’s father Newman was born in Hertfordshire in 1861 and married Eva, who was born in Doncaster in June 1884. The couple had their first child Mary in 1885, and both died in 1924. In 1901 the family are living at 33 Glass House Row, at Denaby Main. Newman, who is 39 is a Glass Bottle Blower, and eldest son Newman (Jr) also works at the Glass Works. Wilfred himself is seven, and presumably at school. By 1911, the family have moved to 3, Trent Terrace on Low Road, Conisbrough and Newman Snr, Newman Jr and Bob (Robert) are all working as Glassblowers, whilst Wilfred and younger brother Thomas are working at the ‘Colliery’. Wilfred is a Clipper, and 14 year old Thomas is a Lamp Carrier. The census shows that the house had five rooms, including the kitchen but excluding sculleries, landings, lobbies, closets and bathrooms. Trent Terrace still stands, and as may be expected from the name is a row of terraced houses. For 13 people to live in one terraced house with 5 rooms was quite a squeeze! Wilfred joined the army on 2nd September, 1914 at the age of 20 years and 9 months and was posted into the 8th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment on 1st October of that year. The family now lived at Paardeburg Cottages, Low Road and his paperwork shows that he stayed at home until he was sent abroad as part of the Expeditionary Force on 25th August 1915, embarking at Folkestone on the 27th. During his service, Wilfred had two incidences of punishment, for which he was confined to barracks for a total of three days. These were being absent from the tattoo until 10:20pm on the 31st October 1914, and for ‘Irregular conduct while on manoeuvre’ on the 18th December of the same year. The first misconduct was witnessed by one ‘Corporal Swaby’; there is no evidence that this was JH Swaby of Denaby who was a Sergeant when he died but it is possible; Swaby was in the same battalion. Wilfred was a private in the 8th (Service) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. On the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Battalion were at Authuille Wood, on the Somme. The entry in the battalion diary is vivid, and descriptive, and yet the entire day is summed up in just a page of writing. It reads; “Being the leading Battalion on the left of the 70th Brigade, in the attack near OVILLERS the Battalion assaulted as per APPENDIX I (attached to JUNE diary). The attack was timed for 7.30am and for an hour previous to that hour the guns delivered an infernal bombardment to which the enemy replied. At the time the assault commenced our front line trenches in the NA8 were heavily shelled but the casualties were fery few. No smoke was liberated on our front as the wind was unfavourable. The first wave left our trenches in perfect order and to time and were at once met by an exceptionally heavy fire from front and both flanks. Most of the men were killed or wounded, but the remainder continued the advance. In spite of the heavy fire the remaining waves advanced to the attack but before getting half way to the enemy trenches were mown down by the machine guns. About seventy men reached the enemy trenches and some of these eventually reached the enemy’s third lines of his front system of trenches. Here they remained fighting for some time until all were killed or taken prisoners – one returned. The remainder were held up in the enemy front line and considerable fighting took place here until almost all were killed – only 3 returned. Many of the enemy were killed by our men both in his trenches and when he marched across the open to counter attack. The supporting battalion (9th York and Lancs) was also caught by the machine guns as they advanced to the attack and suffered so many casualties that only an odd man or two reached the German line when our men so badly needed support. The same happened to the Reserve Battalion (11th Sherwood Foresters). The battalion as it went over the parapet numbered 680 NCOs and men and 23 Officers. Of these only 68 men returned. All the officers were casualties, 18 being killed and missing and 5 wounded. The CO and adjutant were among the killed. In the evening the brigade was withdrawn upon being relieved by the South Wales Borderers.”

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