John Triggs and the Hampshire Cycle Regiment in WW1

John William Triggs was born at West Meon, Hampshire, in the summer of 1882: his father was also called John Triggs (1860 to 1929), a bricklayer and builder: one of the projects he worked on was to build various parts of St John’s Church in West Meon.
John Triggs junior had a sister called Annie Marie Triggs, who later had a daughter Una: it was Una, now Una Yeates, who provided these pictures and the background story.

After leaving school, John Triggs joined his father as a bricklayer: he also joined a band called the Band of Good Hope, and he is pictured here in the band – on the left, with the French Horn.

John Triggs (left front with the French Horn) in the Band of Good Hope, West Meon

John Triggs (left front with the French Horn) in the Band of Good Hope, West Meon

Prior to The Great War, John enlisted with the 9th Cyclist Battalion, known as the Hampshire Cycle Regiment, which was formed in 1911: in the picture below, taken with St John’s Church at West Meon in the background, he is third from the left. The Cycle Regiments originated in the 1880s, and were used very effectively instead of horses for the troops in the South African War, and were later used for reconnaissance and communications work. Initially at least they were not used on active service overseas in the Great War, as they were not effective in the trenches in France. At the start of the Great War they spent a lot of their time patrolling the coastal defences along the south coast.

Hampshire Cycle Regiment, circa 1910: John Triggs is third from the left.

Hampshire Cycle Regiment, circa 1910: John Triggs is third from the left.

You will note, particularly in the detailed enlargement of one section of the picture, the moustaches popular with the Sergeants in charge of the troops at the time, presumably they shaved them off in WW2. Also see the rifles on special mounts on the bicycle frame, and the lamps on the bicycles, which are probably acetylene lamps.

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

The next picture was taken at Devonport, presumably just before John Triggs’ embarkation to France. Possibly John was in the cycle regiment as a Territorial volunteer, and as the war progressed he had wanted to volunteer: so he had to enlist once more, as a regular soldier. He was recorded as being 29554 Lance Corporal John William Triggs in the 2nd Battalion, of the Hampshire Regiment, having enlisted with them at West Meon. With the Hampshire Regiment, John fought at the battle of the Somme throughout the Summer of 1916.

John Triggs at Devonport

John Triggs at Devonport

But it was later, on Saturday 14th October that he was killed. The day was overcast, but the Battalion was not actually involved in any major actions.
They were in positions to the North of Delville Wood.
By the end of the year there was only one tree standing and alive in the wood.

Possibly he was involved in a working party or a trench raid,
because 11 other men from the Battalion were also killed on that day.

His name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme battlefield.

Background information supplied by Una Yeates of Alresford, John Triggs’ niece.

POSTSCRIPT:

In 2019, on clearing out her house moving to “Wayfarer’s Way” the retirement flats in the Dean, Una Yeates found John Triggs’ bicycle lamp, and presented it to the Alresford Museum, so that one day it could be on show in the Old Fire Station.

It is believed this lamp is an oil powered lamp. The broad wick burns with a bright flame, giving a wide beam. The lamp also has a rear facing red glass on the back, so acts as the rear light.

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