Wilford Figgitt of Broadway, who served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Western Front from May 1915, regularly wrote letters home with news from the trenches. In July 1915 he wrote:
We have had a pretty rough time during the last week and that a few men; sixty out of one company were killed or wounded. Last Wednesday I had a job carrying rations up to the Royal Scots in the middle of an attack, and shall not forget it in a hurry. The shells fell like hail and the bullets whistled like hell. The sights I shall never forget, for there were piles of dead and wounded to walk over, some with their heads blown off. We had a bit of amusement on Saturday. Our artillery and French started shelling the German trenches and you could see nothing but smoke and sandbags flying up in the air. It just pleased the Canadians, and they started throwing ladders over the top of their trenches to make believe they were going to attack, and as soon as the Germans showed their heads over theirs they opened on them with machine guns and yelled themselves hoarse. The time before when we got in their trenches we found a German boy, not more than thirteen years old, red-haired and wearing big jack-boots. He had probably been sent to throw bombs at us and got shot. I could tell you heaps more, but haven’t any paper to write on.
Pte Wilford Figgitt, son of Wilford John and Tryphena Figgitt, of Church Street, Broadway, was killed in action, aged 23, on 25th September 1915. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, and the Broadway War Memorial on the green in the village where he grew up. Debbie Williamson Broadway Remembers
Arthur Harold Goddard, known as Harold, was born in Cow Honeybourne, Worcestershire, in 1899. Harold’s father, George, worked as a farm labourer and the family moved from village to village as George moved from farm to farm in search of work. By 1911, the family had settled in Broadway and Harold found work as a labourer in the employ of Mr H. Roberts at nearby Buckland.
Aged 18, Harold enlisted in Worcester in August 1917 and he joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Harold was posted to the Western Front on 3rd April 1918 joining his battalion just before they took part in the Battle of Estaires. From the 12th April 1918 the battalion was involved in the Battle of Hazebrouck which lasted four days and it was on the first day of the battle that Harold was reported as missing in action. It was later reported by letter to his parents that Harold had been killed in action on either 12th or 14th April and that he had been buried between Estaires and Le Grand Pacault. It was later confirmed that Harold had been killed in action on the 14th and Harold is commemorated on Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium, which is about 15 miles away from where he was originally reported to have been buried.
Harold’s older brother, Frederick, served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Frederick served with the 1st Battalion and was posted to the Western Front from where he wrote frequent letters home from ‘somewhere in France’ recounting his experiences of being in the trenches including surviving a gas attack on 24th May 1915. Frederick was wounded in the shin by an explosive bullet whilst on listening patrol on the Western Front on 31st October 1915. After months of hospital treatment, Frederick eventually lost his leg and he was honourably discharged with the Silver War Badge on 16th December 1916. Frederick re-enlisted with the Army Pay Corps in September 1918 and served in Nottingham until he was transferred to the Army Reserve on 9th March 1919.
Harold is one of 48 commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial. Further information about Harold, Frederick and their fellow men from Broadway commemorated on the memorial can be found in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (a not-for-profit publication published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by the Imperial War Museum. Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal).
William Robert Billey was born in Broadway in 1897, the son of Albert William and Lilian Billey. At the age of 18, William enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment in Ebbw Vale whilst working for the Great Western Railway. He served with the 2nd Battalion of the Worcesters and was posted to the Western Front on 2nd December 1915. William was killed in action, aged 19, on 21st May 1917, in the Actions of Croisilles south-east of Arras.
Pte William Billey is buried in Croisilles British Cemetery and is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial.
At the end of February 1915, whilst stationed at Worcester, Private W.C. Bailey of the 2/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment appealed via the Evesham Journal newspaper for funds to purchase a football for the Evesham lads in the battalion.
By the first post the following day, the Evesham Journal had received a cheque in the sum of 8s 6d from John Jacques Jnr of Broadway and a football was immediately purchased. A couple of days later, Pte Bailey wrote the following letter of thanks:
“I beg you to accept on behalf of the Evesham and district lads in the 2nd 8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment our most hearty thanks for the part you have played in helping us to get a football. The ball arrived tonight and my mates and myself are very pleased with it. I have written to Mr Jacques by this post to thank him for his kindness though I am afraid I did not it very well for I am a very poor one at letter writing.”
Mrs Lee of Evesham who was staying in Llandudno at the time, sent in a cheque for 10s which was returned by the Evesham Journal with a thank you note stating if they received a further request for a football they would at once contact her.
The 2/8th Battalion moved to Chelmsford in April 1915 and then on to Salisbury Plain in February 1916. The battalion arrived in France on 24th May 1916 and served on the Western Front during the First World War with the183rd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division until 6th February 1918 when the battalion transferred to the 182nd Brigade.