‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

John Haigh was born c.1894 in the Ripponden area of West Yorkshire, most probably in the village of Rishworth. His parents were James & Priscilla. James was from Brighouse and had married Priscilla, who was born in Glossop, in Oldham in 1884. Shortly after their marriage they had moved to Royton where eldest son James was born. After that they moved to Cleckheaton and then the Ripponden area before settling back in Royton in the late 1890's. John Haigh was one of 6 children who survived infancy - the others being James, Maud, Mary Elizabeth, Sarah Ellen and Herbert.
The Haigh's lived on Springfield Lane with father James working as a Railway Carter at the time of the 1901 census. James died in 1909 at the age of 49 when John would have been about 15 years old. John, like his mother and siblings, worked in the local cotton industry. By the outbreak of war he was a piecer at the High Crompton Mills.
A few months into the war John headed into Rochdale and enlisted. He was one of a group of men sent from there to join the Devonshire Regiment. Judging from other men killed with the Devonshires this was not the first batch the Rochdale district had provided them with.
John reached France & the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment on October 1st 1915. The 9th had been formed in Exeter in September 1914 and had reached France for the first time on July 28th 1915. Those early volunteers were thrown into action on the first day of the Battle of Loos on September 25th and the casualties were heavy. They lost 15 officers and 461 men killed, wounded and missing. It was this shattered unit that John joined six days later.
The 9th Devons were one of the infantry battalions of the 20th Brigade. In February 1916 the 20th Trench Mortar Battery was formed with men drawn from the Brigade. John was one of the men assigned to this new unit.
Whilst still badged as a member of the Devonshire Regiment, John could theoretically have been in support of any of the units of the 20th Brigade and would not necessarily have been fighting with his original unit. However given where he is buried it does indeed seem almost certain that he was killed whilst fighting with the Devons.
On July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme - a day that would see 13 Royton men killed - the 9th Devonshires were one of the few units to reach their initial objectives albeit at the cost of 463 dead or wounded of the 755 men who went over the top.
Three minutes before zero hour that morning, John Haigh's 20th Trench Mortar Battery's sixteen Stokes Mortars had opened a rapid fire on the enemy line, and the leading elements of the 9th Devons climbed their trench ladders and over the parapet. For a short part of their advance they were hidden from German attention by a small hill but as they came over the rise and moved dowhill they were in full view. A German machine gun team had survived the artillery bombardment and opened fire on the completely exposed British troops. Scores of men fell, including Captain Martin who in the days running up to the attack had accurately predicted the very spot where he and many of his men would meet their ends, but with tremendous discipline the survivors kept going and the troops behind them did not waver when they saw what was befalling those ahead.
After the day's fighting survivors of the Devonshires gathered their dead - John Haigh being one -  and buried them in the trench from which they had set off from. Above it they placed a wooden sign which read:

The Devonshires held this trench
The Devonshires hold it still

Those words are now inscribed in stone at the Devonshire Cemetery where the men were later reburied.
Writing five days later to John's mother, Private WH Godfrey:

"Perhaps before I write anything else I had better explain that I am writing you because I am your son's pal and chum. I have been with him since Christmas and now we are separated. I am terribly sorry to have to break the news, but it will be a relief to you to know for certain that he is gone to his reward and he will get it, for he was a sympathetic pal who would always try to do my work as well as his own. He was a good soldier too, honest, straight, and true as steel, and God fearing. But what is the use of telling you this, for you are the proudest being of all his mother, and he is waiting for you above. I  miss him greatly and can sympathise very much with you in your great loss. I shall never get such a pal again"

It was not until the morning of Saturday July 22nd that Priscilla Haigh received the official confirmation that her son had been killed. She outlived him by 4 years, dying in 1920 at the age of 58.
The men of the 9th Devonshire Regiment who were killed that day were:

FIELD ARTHUR 24 Lance Serjeant  13208 from Suffolk
STABB E  26 Private 20018 from Exeter
JENNINGS THOMAS  26 Private 14729 from Torrington,Devon
CLARK THOMAS 20 Private  12157 from Birmingham
DENNER J 23 Private 16666 from Cullompton,Devon
FORRESTER HENRY  25 Lance Corporal 11775 from London
GIGG REGINALD 19 Private 18726 from Seaton,Devon
WADSWORTH H 19 Private 17593 from Todmorden
ADAMS JOB Private 20634  from Willesden Green
ADAMSON  TRAVERS 20 2nd Lt. from Wimborne
ASH J 18 Private 15352 from Talaton,Devon
ASHWORTH SAMUEL  19 Private 18740 from Smallbridge, Rochdale
BALCH G  Private  16683 from Devon
BAXTER JOSEPH 23 Private 12322 from Peckham
BEARNE JOHN 28 Private 18196 from Newton Abbot
BEST WILLIE 22 Private 11454 from Ealing
BEWHAY G Private 3/20602 from Jersey
BILL H  CSM 12083 from Shropshire
BOLTON E Private 18613    
BOTTOMLEY EDWARD 30 Private 17923 from Bolton
BOWLES  AW Private 16942 from Oxford
BRADFORD JOHN 20 Private 15326    from Exeter
BRAYLEY  CHARLES  34 Serjeant 11295 from Barnstaple
BREMNER  ROBERT 21 Private 12138 from Tottenham
BRINKLEY CHARLES  Private 12479    
BROWN HARRY 28 Private from Plymouth
BULLOCK  JW Private 20907 from Devonport
BUSSELL WILLIAM  30 Private 13483 from Yeovil
BUTLAND  H Lance Serjeant 11468 from Acton
CARPENTER ALBERT 26 Private 20896 from Exeter
CARTWRIGHT FE Private 13370 from Littleborough
CHARLES  T Private 16822    
COLLIER  SA Corporal 12249 from Folkestone
COLLINGS T Private 20672 from Plympton
CONDICK R Private 14068    
CONNETT G Private 16756 from Devon
COPP THOMAS 32 Private 20402 from Devon
COSHELL  JW Lance Corporal 12324 from Islington
COURT ALFRED 21  Private  20055 from Exeter
CRADICK WILLIAM Private  20335    
CRAWLEY  G Corporal 16063 from London
CREWE WP Private 12121  from Birmingham
CROOKE  FRANCIS  34 Private 3/19180 from Devon
DARK RH  Private  16036 from Glamorgan
DAVEY WH 22 Private 16603 from Devon
DAVIES DAVID Private 16829    
DAVIES HERBERT 18 Lance Corporal 14764 from Swansea
DEARSLEY HENRY 21 Serjeant 12255 from London
DINES PERCY 24 2nd Lt. from Leigh-on-Sea
DOWN JOHN 24 Private 20876 from Devon
DUNN HARRY 24 Private 19031 from Devon
DYER SJ  21 Private 14306 from Devon
EALES JH Private 18393 from London
EGBERT CHARLES 22 Private 16702  from Plymouth
ENTICOTT SAMUEL 33 Private 14576 from Axminster
FARLOW AUGUSTUS 23 Private 12421 from London
FEDRICK  SYDNEY 18 Private 20043  from Torquay
FRENCH FREDERICK Private 16371    
FRENCH W 32 Private 12684 from Bridgwater
GALLIVAN EJ Private 16692    
GILBURY  BJW Private 16905    
GLADE WJ Private 14883 from Devon
GOVIER ISAAC Private 12481    
GRANT H  Private 20419 from Exeter
GREEN W  Private 20842 from Swansea
GREENWOOD ABRAHAM 20 Private 15885 from Rochdale
GRIFFITHS FG Private 20657 from Devon
GRIMMETT AW Private 18831 from London
GRISTEY  GW Private 12129    
HAMLYN  WILLIAM  20 Private 9437 from Exeter
HARROP FW Private from London
HARWOOD  AEJ Private 12185 from Birmingham
HAWKINS ERNEST  26 Lance Corporal 11452 from London
HAWKINS  F 25 Corporal 14712 from Exeter
HEDGES JOHN 29 Private 20061 from Cardiff
HENBURY  WILLIAM  20 Lance Corporal 12358  from Birmingham
HILL RH  Lance Corporal  16054 from Heywood
HODGSON WILLIAM 23 Lieutenant Military Cross Winner
HOLCROFT RAYMOND 20 2nd Lt.from Staffordshire
HOWARD WILLIAM 22 Lance Corporal 11478  from Swansea
HUMPHREYS HJB Lance Corporal 20016    
JOINT ARCHIE 21  Private 16651 from Devon
JONES CHARLES Serjeant 7677    
JONES HENRY 21 Private 18600 from London
JONES JT Private 13654    
JORDAN AJ Private 16936    from Devon
KERSHAW  ALBERT 27 Lance Corporal 16158    
KING E  Private 11129 from Minehead
KITCH R  Serjeant 12685 from Taunton
KNIGHT E 20 Private 16526    
LAWRENCE WH Private 13024 from Chepstow
LEE WG  Private  20581    
LETHBRIDGE T Private 15799 from Devon
LEVY H  Lance Corporal 12086 from London
LEWIS THOMAS Private 13106 from Rhondda
LUXTON GORDON Private 16790    
MANLEY LEONARD 21 Private 16806    from Lyme Regis
MARTIN CHARLES 29 Private 12305    
MARTIN  DUNCAN 30 Captain        
MATTHEWS ARTHUR  28 Lance Corporal 13079  from Cardiff. Military Medal Winner
MATTHEWS FJ Private 20085 from Exmouth
MAYERS WILLIAM 37 Lance Corporal 16143 from Torquay
MIDGLEY TOM 20 Private 14316 from Rochdale
MILFORD  JOHN 18   Private  20656 from Exeter
MOUNTFORD WILLIAM 21 Private 21002 from Devon
McGIRR MG Private 19033    
NEWBERY  FRED 18  Private 20086 from Devon
NEWELL WILLIAM 19 Private 11620  from Bridgend
NICHOLAS ALFRED 17 Private 19056 from Taunton
NORTON S 20 Private 15313 from Buxton
OGDEN SAMUEL 21  Private  16304 from Heywood
OKE WILLIAM  23  Private  14646 from Devon
OPIE JOHN Private 16804    
ORSMAN R 19 Private 18773 from Devon
PARKHOUSE H Private 18975 from Stawley,Wellington
PARTRIDGE JOHN 29 Private 19223  from Devon
PINN HJ 24 Private 20836    
POMFRET W Lance Corporal 15342  from Rochdale
POTTER  WH 20 Private 16530 from Totnes
RAYNER HL 2nd Lt.from Tunbridge Wells
REED AJ  19 Private 20962 from Exeter
REEVES ERNEST Private 12727    
RICHARDS JOHN Private 12315    
RICHARDS WILLIAM Serjeant 11190    
RIGBY THOMAS Private 11856    
ROACH A  Private  14688 from London
ROBERTS JC Private 12152    
ROGERS SIDNEY 24 Private 20822 from Kingsbridge
ROSE A  Private   20613 from Exeter
RUSHWORTH H Private 17929 from Burnley
SAMUELS  JOHN 31 Private  16124 from Bethnal Green
SHEPARD  CYRIL 39 2nd Lt.        
SILLINCE BW Private 19156 from London
SMITH WALTER Private 20095    
STILWELL JOHN 21 Private 14715 from London
STOKES TH Private 18896    
STONEMAN THOMAS 19 Private 18735 from Plymouth
TAYLOR FREDERICK 19 Private 15903 from Littleborough
THOMAS GH 23 Serjeant 12342 from London
THOMAS HH Private 14630  from Brixham
THORN EDWIN 23 Private  16810    
THORNTON JOHN 39 Private 15333 from Devon
THRESHER A Serjeant 16059 from Exeter
THURLOW  C Private 15785  from Barnstaple
TOWNSEND ALBERT Private 12388    
TOZER W  Private 20642 from Newbury
TREBILCOCK AWBERY 20 Private 12500 from Cornwall
TREWERN    JH Private 19226 from Penzance
TRUSSHADEN JPrivate 12150 from London
VENN H Private 6689 from Monmouthshire
VINEY CH Lance Corporal  12816 from Tiverton
WEBBER HG Private 16521  from Devon
WEBBER MARK 31 Private 14080 from Devon
WESTERN  WILLIAM  33 Private 12666 from Wells
WESTON AF Private 12540 from London
WHITE ET Private 20987 from London
WILLIAMS D 28 Serjeant 12801 from Pontypridd
WILLIAMS FRANK 26 Private 12000 from Pontypridd
WILLIAMS HUGH Private 13078    
WILLIAMS JE Private 18067 from Westhoughton
WILLIAMS LAWRENCE 19 Serjeant 11336 from Cardiff
WILLIAMS MARSHAL 22 Private 19186 from Exeter
WILLING  RP Private 12953 from Dartmouth
WITHERIDGE GEORGE Private 16812    
JINKINS  JOHN Private 20157    

Date of Death:01/07/1916
Service No:14323
Regiment:Devonshire Regiment
Unit:9th Bn.
Devonshire Cemetery,Mametz
Grave Ref:B.5.