Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Sidney John Briggs was born in Morville in 1879, the son of Timothy and Sarah Ann. Timothy was a police constable and the family lived in Salop Street. Sidney was the brother of Lance Corporal William Briggs.
During the Boer War, Sidney served in Africa with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. He was discharged in 1901 ‘on termination of limited engagement’ and became clerk to a Coal Agent. He married Olive Nellie Groves in 1903. By 1911 they were living in West Castle Street with their two sons.
As an old soldier, Sidney would probably have been mobilised at the outbreak of war, joining the 1st/4th Batallion KSLI. He does not seem to have been posted abroad until much later though, possibly not until the battalion returned from the Far East in mid 1917. It was immediately sent to France, joining 190th Brigade, 63rd Division. Sidney would have seen action on the Western Front at the Battle of Passchendaele.
He was killed in action on 30th December, 1917, on which day the 1st/4th KSLI were involved in fighting on Welsh Ridge – part of a German counter-attack to regain ground lost in the Battle of Cambrai. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
[The Battalion] marched into the line on Welch Ridge, opposite Marcoing, on the 16th [December] ... This portion of the line was comparatively quiet at the time and nothing beyond the normal events of trench life happened until December 30th when a heavy bombardment, which severed all telephonic communication, was opened on the front trenches at 6 a.m.
ACTION OF WELCH RIDGE
At about 9 a.m. a runner reached Battalion Headquarters from the front line with a message to the effect that the trenches held by the unit on the right had been rushed, and that a defensive flank had been formed by the right company (D) of the 4th K.S.L.I.
At about 10 a.m. the Brigade Major arrived with information that the counter-attack battalion, the 1st Artists' Rifles, was moving up to retake the lost trenches and that the two support companies were to co-operate with them.
The initial counter-attack was only partially successful. The situation was eventually restored owing to the exceptionally gallant and resourceful action of Lieut. G. H. Morley. This officer had only returned from a bombing course the night before, and it was actually the first time that he had been in the line. Heading a party consisting of about 10 men of A Company, he made his way along the captured trench, bombing the Germans back yard by yard until his stock of bombs was exhausted. He had, however, noticed a dump of German stick bombs and, sending one of his party back for a supply, he continued his advance until the trench was completely cleared of the enemy, large numbers of whom were killed.
Lieut. Morley was unfortunately killed by a stray bullet after the completion of his task on his way back to Battalion Head-quarters. For his gallantry and successful initiative he was recommended for the V.C., and though this posthumous honour was not awarded, his gallantry was recorded in despatches.
In the afternoon Colonel Garrett decided to reinforce the front line with the support companies and, after a few half-hearted attempts, the resulting enemy attack died away and the shattered trenches were restored and the wire repaired.
In addition to Lieut. Morley the battalion suffered a severe loss by the deaths of Lieuts. W. Atherton and N. L. Smith, two of the most efficient and popular subalterns. For their gallantry in this most successful action no fewer than 17 N.C.O.'s and men received the D.C.M. or M.M. [Wood: History of the KSLI in the Great War pp 108-9.]
Serg Briggs, 200092, was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the Territorial Force War Medal. His death was reported in the Bridgnorth Journal of 19 Jan, 1918.
KILLED IN ACTION [Bridgnorth Journal, Saturday 19th January, 1918] Mrs. Briggs, 50 West Castle Street, Bridgnorth, has received official information notifying the death of her husband 200092 Acting-Sergt. S. J. Briggs, K.S.L.I., on the 30th December last, and expressing the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at her loss. The deceased, who was killed in action at a place not stated, was 39 years of age.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.