Arthur Rigby (Military Cross)

1893 - 1917

Arthur was born in Ceylon, where his father was a missionary. He showed great promise as a student, and planned to become a missionary himself.

Head of School

Arthur George Rigby was born in 1893 in Ceylon, where his father was a Methodist missionary. In 1911 he was at Leeds Grammar School and living as a ward, alongside his brother and other boys born abroad and sent to England for their education.  He became Head of School and the school magazine records that ‘few boys in the School during the last fifteen years have shown such brilliant promise’.

Secretary of the Wesley Society

In 1911 Arthur gained an Open Classical Scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford. He became Secretary of the Wesley Society (which later became the Methodist students’ John Wesley Society) and a Local Preacher. In 1914 he achieved a First Class degree. He planned to become a missionary, but on the outbreak of war he joined the Leeds Rifles Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, and was commissioned Second Lieutenant.

Mentioned in despatches

Arthur’s unit landed at Boulogne in April 1915. In May they were at the disastrous Battle of Aubers Ridge, and in December Arthur was a Lieutenant and mentioned in dispatches ‘for gallant and distinguished service in the field’. In 1916 his unit fought at the Somme, and ‘while acting as platoon commander his natural inquisitiveness led to many excursions into No Man’s Land, and he became Intelligence Officer to the Brigade and to the Division’, gaining the rank of Captain.

Appalling mud

Arthur even survived the first week of the Battle of Poelcapelle, fought in heavy rain and appalling mud.  He was killed on 12 October 1917 aged 24, but his body was not recovered. He was awarded a posthumous Military Cross ‘for gallantry during active operations against the enemy’. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele.


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