Killed in Action
Regiment: The Sherwood Foresters
Service Number: 12390
Date of Death: 8th June 1916
Age at Death: 22
Cemetery: Auchonvillers Military Cemetery, France
Parents: Alfred and Mary Higgins
Alfred Henry Higgins, whose birth was registered in Grantham in the summer of 1893, was the son of Alfred Higgins, a farm labourer, and his wife Mary. At the time of the 1901 Census they were living at Swinstead, near Bourne with their seven children.
Of their five sons, the oldest four served in the war. Alfred followed his brothers Arthur and Cecil into the Sherwood Foresters, with all three enlisting as volunteers, brother Frederick served in the Leicestershires. By the time war broke out, Alfred, Cecil and Fererick had moved to Hoby and were living at Lodge Farm. Their parents had presumably died by then because Alfred listed his oldest sibling, Lucy, as his next-of-kin; she had married a man called Featherstone and was living at nearby Rearsby.
Alfred’s service record has been lost but his medal card tells us that he disembarked in France on 9th February 1915. The next entry records that he died on 8th June 1918 but, according to the Commonweath War Graves Commission, this should read 8th June 1916. He is buried at the Auchonvillers Military Cemetery, north east of Amiens, and was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Alfred is remembered on the war memorial at Barkston, Lincolnshire.
The 10th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters did not land in France until July 1915 so Alfred will have served in another part of the Regiment between February and July when it was involved in heavy fighting near Ypres. The Auchonvillers Cemetery, where he is buried, contains the graves of many British soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1st July 1916, and others such as Alfred who were killed in the actions which preceded it. Auchonvillers was referred to by the troops as ‘Ocean Villas’.