Private Charles Rigby

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte C Rigby
244th, Supply Section, Royal Army Service Corps
S/4/056878
Killed in action, 1.8.1915
Age, 29

Charles Rigby was not a native of Weybridge but was resident in the town by 1901. At 16 years old he was earning his living as a carman while the rest of his family were employed by a local laundry. He was born c.1885 in Stamford Hill, London to Charles and Fanny (nee Davison); Charles was their third child and first son. His siblings were Frances Ellen and Edith Harriet. Their parents had married on 13 December 1880 at St Barnabus Church, Homerton, Middlesex. Charles and Edith were baptised at All Saints Church, Hackney on 12 September 1886. Charles Rigby Snr, a cabinet maker, died in the late 1880s and his widow remarried to Edward Charles Hollock in 1889. They had a son, Henry Edward Charles. This was the family who lived at 2B Elm Grove Road, Weybridge in 1901.

Like his mother Charles married twice, firstly to Elizabeth Violet Holmes on 18 June 1904 at St Paul’s Church, Addlestone and secondly to Ellen Margaret Holloway on 10 September 1910 at St James’ Church, Weybridge. He had one son with Elizabeth, George Edward Charles, who was born on 17 May 1906 when they lived at Victoria Road. Addlestone. His marriage to Ellen brought two children, Charles, born in 1911 and Ellen Margaret in 1915. They lived at Weydale Cottage in Radnor Road and later moved to 6, Church Walk in Weybridge. Charles was employed as a house decorator. His older son remained with his maternal grandparents.

Charles became a member of the Territorials on 16 September 1914; he remained with them until he enlisted into the Army Service Corps (ASC) on 23 January 1915. He was 29 years old and stood five feet and six inches tall. Charles was part of 244 Company, the ‘Watney Lot’. They had been formed by Major Gordon Watney of the South Lodge Motor Factory, Weybridge he was under instruction by the War Office to form a Mechanical Transport Supply Column within the ASC. He enrolled over 250 men. Major Watney was a keen motor racer and often entered events at Brooklands. He used part of his factory for drilling the recruits and by 1917 his business was known as Aeronautical and General Engineers who were contractors to HM War Office.

At the time of his death Charles was with the 29th Division which embarked from Avonmouth in March 1915 which coincides with the beginning of his overseas service. They travelled via Malta to Alexandria from where units set sail on 7 April for Mudros, a deep water port on the island of Imbros (Lemnos) which was to be the forward base for the operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey). The intentions of the Allied invasion on Gallipoli was to drive the Turks out of the war, ease the pressure on Russia and open a route to Russia via the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. The 29th Division landed on ‘W’ beach at Cape Helles, the southern tip of the peninsula on 25 April 1915 under Turkish machine gun fire with the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers taking the lead. Supplying the troops was a logistical nightmare; on 27 April it took nine hours to unload the battery and 56 horses. Twelve horse teams were required to pull the guns off the beach. Charles may well have been involved in this task.

The Gallipoli Campaign was abandoned in January 1916 with the evacuation of Allied forces. Charles Rigby was killed in action on 1 August 1915. He was buried in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery (so named for the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers) at Helles in Row E, Grave 80. By 1916 his widow and family had moved to Windsor, which was her birthplace. It is likely that the 6 year old Charles Rigby who died in Windsor in 1917 is his younger son. His older son, George, joined the East Surrey Regiment in August 1923. He married Violet Dean in 1935 in Walton on Thames. George died in 1972.

Charles Rigby plaque at the Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Turkey Courtesy of Roy Perks

Sources:

The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – 29th Division, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
British Army WW1 Service Records, 1760-1915, www.findmypast.co.uk
Gosling, Betty ‘Henry Robert Stanley’, www.surreyinthegreatwar.co.uk
1918, Kelly’s Directory for Surrey, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk
Gordon Watney – Motorcar Rebuilder, Coachbuilder and Dealer (November 20, 2014), www.theoldmotor.com/?p=132967

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