About ten years ago while perusing a well-known online auction website I came across a pair of cabinet photographs depicting two brothers taken just prior to their departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. The two young men, looking not many days out of their teens, were identified as Frederic William Piggin and Henry Arthur Piggin, were photograph identically uniformed and posed by photographer Bert Storer of Long Eaton, Derbyshire around 1900.
That the two photographs had remained together after more than a century was no small miracle but this was lost on the seller who posted the two images for sale separately – an all too common and very unfortunate occurrence. In spite of my best efforts, I was only able to secure the purchase of one of the photographs, that of Frederic William Piggin.
Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed with the outcome of the sale, but there was nothing to be done about it. I was saddened by the loss of historical and familiar context that would result in what seemed to be the permanent separation of the pair of photographs.
Above: Frederic William Piggin wearing his khaki field uniform just prior to his departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Originally paired with an almost identical photograph of his younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin, the two photographs became separated when the previous owner listed them separately on an online auction site. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/www.soldiersofthequeen.com
Fast forward to a few short weeks ago when I found myself rummaging through the same online auction site. I was performing one of my usual keyword searches when one of the results immediately caught my eye. Even after a decade, the long lost photograph of Henry Arthur Piggin was instantly recognized. This time I was determined to acquire the image and placed a maximum bid that would certainly guarantee my winning the auction this time around. It did.
I had researched the life and ultimately tragic military career of Frederic Piggin not long after purchasing his photograph. As one might expect I also uncovered a bit concerning his bother Henry – they both served in the same unit during the Anglo-Boer War and World War One so some of their records were found pretty much side by side. Below is that research along with some new additional information regarding the long lost Henry Arthur Piggin.
Frederic(k) William Piggin was born around 1877 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, the son of Richard S. and Mary A. Piggin. The elder Piggin was a butcher and farmer of some 60 acres in and around Long Eaton. Younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin who was born about 1880 also in Long Eaton.
Both brothers served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. I have found a ship’s manifest for the R.M.S. Kildonan Castle that lists Mr. F.W. Piggin age 24 and Mr. H. Piggin age 21 returning to England from South Africa in 1902. Both men are listed as members of the “Col. Defce. Force”. Examining the medal rolls for both the Queen’s and King’s South Africa Medal reveals that both Frederic and Henry served together in 1/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts and 2/Branbant’s Horse. Frederic Piggin served as Quartermaster Sergeant in 2/Barabant’s Horse and Quartermaster Sergeant and Squadron Sergeant Major in 2/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts. The Queen’s South Africa Medal roll shows him as being entitled to the clasps: “Wepener“, “Belfast”, “Wittebergen“, “Cape Colony“, “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal“. He was also entitled to King’s South Africa Medal with its two clasps: “1901” and “1902“. His brother Henry Arthur’s medal entitlements were exactly the same so one can assume that they remained together during their entire service in South Africa.
Frederic William Piggin was wounded twice during the Anglo-Boer War. At Jammersburg Drift (severely) on 9 April 1900 and at Lindley (lightly) on 31 December 1900.
Frederic is mentioned in the as being a butcher by trade in the September 13, 1910 edition of the London Gazette with his business being located at 24 High Street in Long Eaton while living in Hall Croft, Beeston, Nottingham.
The two Piggin brothers seem to show up again during World War I as members of Notts Yeomanry, T.F. (South Notts Hussars). Henry Arthur Piggin is shown as a 2nd lieutenant of the Nott’s Yeomanry, then a Lieutenant in the 1st North Midland Field Ambulance and finally as a captain in the Army Remount Service. His theater of operations is shown as France on his medal index card.
Above: The long lost photograph on Henry Arthur Piggin recently acquired online. Whether or not this is the exact same photographic print of Henry which became separated from that of his brother some ten years ago is impossible to say. It is quite possible that the Piggin brothers ordered multiple prints from Long Eaton photographer Bert Storer as keepsakes for loved ones on the eve of their departure for South Africa. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/www.soldiersofthequeen.com.
Frederic Piggin stayed in the 1/1st South Nottinghamshire Hussars (Yeomanry) during his entire World War I service. Serving in Salonica, Egypt, and Palestine he rose to the rank of captain and was awarded the Military Cross for actions mentioned in the 5 July 1918 edition of the London Gazette:
“Lt. [acting captain] Frederick William Piggin, Yeo. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He was in command of the leading squadron in an action and led his men with great skill. He advanced rapidly over very difficult country, driving back a superior force of the enemy. He cut the enemy’s line of retreat, capturing two field guns and some prisoners”
Frederic Piggin remained on active service in Egypt (his unit was transferred there from Salonika in June of 1917 and remained there as part of the Desert Mounted Corps until April 1918.
Additional information regarding Frederic Piggin and his death during World War I has been kindly provided by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Piggin of Hamburg. Frederic Piggin was drowned when the troop transport ship Leasowe Castle was torpedoed off Alexandria, Egypt on 27 May 1918 with a loss of 83 men, officers, and other ranks. His name is listed on the Chatby Memorial which is located in Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria. Based on this it is probable that Piggin’s body was lost at sea during the sinking.
Frederic William Piggin’s promotions during World War One were as follows:
Squadron-Sergeant-Major, South Nottinghamshire Hussars – 1914
Second Lieutenant – 27 November 1914
Temporary Lieutenant – 12 November 1915
Temporary Captain – 1 August 1916
Lieutenant & Temporary Captain – 24th July 1917
Acting Captain (commanding Yeo. Squadron) – 15 December 1917
Lieutenant – 4th February 1918
Gazetted for the Military Cross – 4th February 1918
Drowned off Alexandria, Egypt- 27 May 1918
For his service during the Great Was Frederic William Piggin was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals along with the Military Cross. He appears to have never married and his medals were forwarded to his sister in Birkhamstead.
Henry Arthur Piggin was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals for service in France during the World War.
Henry survived the war which took his brother’s life and would marry Miss Kathleen Ida Cooper in September 1926. In 1931 Henry was still active as a riding instructor and dealer in horses at Repton, Derbyshire. He passed away in Hampshire, England on 14 December 1961.