Wiggins, Reuben

He was born William Reuben Wiggins in January 1893 at Wolverhampton, and was baptised on 11th January, 1893 at St Matthew’s Parish Church, Wolverhampton. He was the youngest of three children to John Henry Wiggins and Lizzie (Ward).

John and Lizzie were both born in Wolverhampton and were married there on 5th July, 1890 at St Matthew’s Parish Church. They lived at Wesley Street and John’s occupation at that time was a bolt forger.

It is not known when John died but Lizzie died in May, 1908, aged 42, and was buried in Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton.

By 1911 Reuben had moved to Flint to live with his aunt Sarah and her husband Henry Norris at 36, Swan Street. He was employed as a galvanizer at John Summer’s Ironworks.

Perhaps life wasn’t exciting enough for him for he joined the Army, signing on for four years at Flint on 1st March, 1912 with the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. On enlistment he was 19 years 2 months, 5ft 3ins, had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. His address was given as 76, Swan Street. His next of kin was named as his father who had a Wolverhampton address.

On the 25th December, 1912 he married Sarah Commins at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Flint, and on the 31st August the following year their only child Thomas Henry was born.

When the war began Reuben was Home based until the 14th July, 1915 when his regiment embarked on the Troop Ship “Caledonian” at Devonport. They arrived at Gallipoli on the 8th August and survived the horrific battles at Suvla Bay.

On Saturday morning, the 6th November, Sarah received a letter from Reuben stating “he was well. He is with the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Gallipoli. He hopes his friends are all well in Flint.”

On the 30th November that year he was hospitalised at Cairo with muscular rheumatism which must have been so bad he was invalided to England on the Hospital Ship “Salta” on the 15th January, 1916. He also suffered with “Trench Feet.” On the 4th February he was considered fit for service.

He remained in England until the 30th April when he again embarked at Devonport on the Troop Ship “Tunisian” and disembarked at Alexandria on the 9th May. He joined his battalion on the 18th May. On the 9th September he was deprived of 10 days pay for “Neglect of Duty.”

On the 5th August, 1916 he was granted Class 2 Proficiency Pay and on the 1st January, 1917 he was granted Class 1 Proficiency Pay. From the 26th April to the 19th June, 1918 he was in and out of hospital in Cairo it is not known why, but he was able to re-join his battalion in the Field on the 4th July.

On the 2nd August he was posted to the 5/6th RWF but sadly, on the 9th October he became ill with Diarrhoea and was admitted to hospital. His wife was informed by telegram from the Records Office, Shrewbury that he was dangerously ill with Bacillary Dysentery and Broncho Pneumonia. He died on the 21st October at Alexandria, Egypt and his wife was again informed by telegram.

He was buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery (Plot W, Grave 1). He is remembered on the Flint Town war memorial and is commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.

In the Flint Quarter sessions in January, 1918 Sarah pleaded guilty to using obscene language on the 18th December in Castle Street. P C Clement Williams proved the case. Inspector Jones added that the woman was a nuisance to the neighbourhood where she lived. She was fined 10 shillings.

Sarah re-married in 1920 to WWI veteran Lawrence Ferguson, brother to Private Thomas Ferguson, who’s story appears in Volume 1. They had three sons and lived at 1, Castle Street. Sarah died after a short illness on the 14th August, 1942 and is buried with Lawrence in the Northop Road Cemetery.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Flint Memorial

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