Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Wiggins family originated from Hartley Witney, outside Petersfield, where Richard John's grandfather George Wiggins was born in 1827. His great grandparents were Robert and Maria Wiggins and they were born in 1776 and 1781 respectively.
George Wiggins moved to Portsmouth in the 1840s and lived the rest of his life there. In 1847 he married Emma Bond who was born at Portsmouth in 1829, the daughter of James and Sarah Bond. The couple initially lived with George's sister Sophia Singer but by 1861 they had found a home of their own at 62 Oxford Street, off Commercial Road. With them were their five children, Emma, George, Sarah, John and Mary. The 1871 census recorded that they had moved to 73 Oxford Street and had two more children, Alfred (b. 1866) and Charlotte.
A further move to 75 Crasswell Street took place before the 1881 census but the entire family seem to be missing from the 1891 records. Before then however it is known that George and Emma's son Alfred had married Annie Elizabeth Palmer in 1885. The couple appear in the 1901 census at 21 Regent Street, off Blackfriars Road, Southsea with their six sons, Alfred (b. 1886), George (b. 1888), Leonard (b. 1890), Richard John (b. 1892) and Charles (b. 1901).
The 1911 census showed the family had moved a few doors to No. 24 Regent Street and that Richard John had followed both his father and grandfather in working as a bricklayer's labourer. He was 22 years old at the outbreak of the Great War and although details of his military career are currently unknown the CWGC website tells us that he was serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery when he was killed in June 1917. He was one of the last persons to be buried at Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Richard John Wiggins, Gunner, Royal Garrison Artillery, died 06/06/1917, aged 25. Buried at Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery (Grave Ref: IV.C.1.). Son of Mrs. A. E. Wiggins, of 24, Regent St., Southsea, Hants.
Richard Wiggins is commemorated on the WW1 Memorial at St. Luke's Church, the Royal Garrison Artillery WW1 Memorial at the Royal Garrison Church and on the Cenotaph, in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
December 2014