Rank: Gunner
Number: 76621
Date of Death: 21 March 1917
Age: 27
Cemetery: Pont-de-Nieppe Communal Cemetery, Nieppe, France

In the late 1880s, Thomas Higginson, a machine minder, married Clara Lynch in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport. They are known to have had at least five children and Mark was the eldest. All were born in Reddish and when the 1901 Census was taken, the family was still living in the area, at 2 Victoria Street.

Eight years later, Mark married Sarah Lowndes, also in a civil ceremony. They are believed to have set up home at 3 Leaf Street, Reddish and lived there until Mark enlisted into the Army on 10 April 1915.

The Royal Garrison Artillery fired the most powerful guns in the British Army and 90th Heavy Battery was equipped with several 60-pounder guns. They were capable of firing a 5 inch calibre shell over 11 kilometres and were used to batter enemy strongpoints and, of course, the enemy guns opposite.

Mark’s future unit had gone into action at Gallipoli in April 1915 and it is likely that he joined it there after training during the summer or early autumn. After the failure of the campaign at the end of the year, the troops were withdrawn and transferred to the Western Front in Belgium and France. Mark’s rank was officially “Gunner”, the artillery equivalent of the an infantry private, but he worked as one of the Battery’s signallers, maintaining the telephone links between Battery Headquarters, the gun emplacements and the higher levels of command.

Nieppe is a village between the French towns of Armentieres and Bailleul and, on 21 March 1917, it was quiet time in this sector. There were no major attacks underway from either side but the artillery, of both armies, would continue to fire harassing shells at the troops on the other side of No Man’s Land. The Battery’s Major wrote to the family to tell them what had happened. “He was severely wounded by a shell and died shortly afterwards without suffering and was buried close to two of his comrades and his death is a great loss to his battery as he has done good work as a signaller.”

Mark and his two comrades, Bombardier W Fowles and Gunner W Tolley, are buried in adjacent graves

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