John Thomas RIGBY
Rank: Private
Number: 30629
Date of Death: 31 July 1918
Age: 18
Cemetery: Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire, Aisne, France

John was born in Manchester and was the son of John and Elizabeth. It is not known when the family moved to the Stockport area but John enlisted into the army in the town and, in the early 1920s, his parents were known to be living at 98 St George's Road, Heaton Norris. Nothing else is known of his life. He will have been conscripted into the army when he became 18 and originally served abroad with South Wales Borderers (service number 4/64584). It is probable that he was transferred to the Somersets almost as soon as he arrived in France.

The 2/4th Battalion had spent most of the War on Empire garrison duty in India but was transferred to the Western Front in 1918, arriving at Marseilles on 1 June. This is probably when John joined them as part of a draft of reinforcements intended to bring them up the fighting strength.

On 29 July, orders were issued for it to undertake an attack, in conjunction with the 1/7th Cheshires, to capture the village of Beugneux, but the orders were subsequently cancelled. The Battalion remained in position and in a state of readiness until the night of  the 30/31st when it was relieved to the Bois de Baillette. It had been a difficult couple of days. They had been exposed to some considerable shell fire including gas shells. In the hours of darkness before they were relieved, nine men were killed and John was probably one of them.

Later on the 31st, they moved to a support position along the Vers - Soissons railway but were not called on to go into action. They were, however, once again subjected to heavy gas and high explosive shelling and, whilst the Regimental History mentions no casualties, John may have been killed during this period.

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