Frederick Charles Riggs was born on July 28, 1888 at Christchurch, then in Hampshire, England. In the 1891 census Fredeick is living in the household of James & Elizabeth Fowler at 55 Garfield Avenue, Springbourne, Bournemouth where he is described as an orphan. His entry in the Commonwealth War Graves Commissions roll of Honour describes him as the ‘Adopted Son of Elizabeth Burgum, of 39, Capstone Rd., Bournemouth.’
However in 1901 he would appear to have been recorded as the son of Ann Riggs, at 77 Durnford Road, Springbourne, where his mother is lodging, she is aged 44 from Chilfrome, Dorset, is single and employed as a Cook. At this time I have not found a record of his birth in the Christchurch district.
During the first World War Frederick Riggs served in France, the Gallipoli campaign, Egypt, and France again; he was badly wounded during the Battle of the Somme (1916), winning the Military Medal. He was 30 years old, and a Sergeant in the 6th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
An extract from “The London Gazette,” dated 3rd Jan., 1919, records the following:- “For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice on the morning of 1st Oct., 1918, near Epinoy, when, having led his platoon through strong uncut wire under severe fire, he continued straight on, and although losing heavily from flanking fire, succeeded in reaching his objective, where he rushed and captured a machine gun. He later handled two captured guns with great effect, and caused the surrender of fifty enemy. Subsequently, when the enemy again advanced in force, Serjt. Riggs cheerfully encouraged his men to resist, and whilst exhorting his men to fight on to the last, this very gallant soldier was killed.”
Frederick Charles Riggs is commemorated on Panel 9 of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. This Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave.
His medals, including the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, are on display at the York & Lancaster Regiment Museum, Rotherham.