Private Leslie Giggal, 49377, Lincolnshire Regiment, 1st Battalion
Leslie Giggal was born in early 1899, the son of Ossett mungo manufacturer, Allen Giggal and his wife, Jane (nee Bywater) who married in 1883. Leslie came from a large family and the 1901 Census records Leslie’s parents and five other siblings: Fred, Violet, Emma, Arthur and Clarence all born between 1886 and 1901, living in Chickenley Lane. The eldest two girls were born in Ossett and the other children, including Leslie, were all born in Earlsheaton.
In 1911 Leslie, now aged 12, and still at school is living with his parents still at Chickenley Lane. In the household are his elder brothers Fred (25), Arthur (16) and a sister Mona (8), bringing the total number of children from the marriage to seven.
The census indicates that one of these children had died before 1911. This was Leslie’s youngest brother Clarence, who had died in 1904 aged 3. In 1911, The two eldest boys are working for their father, Allen Giggal, a mungo manufacturer.
Private Leslie Giggal died on Wednesday the 23rd of October 1918, aged 19 years, killed in action, near Vendegies-Au-Bois in northern France, during the Battle of the Selle. This is an account 1 of the action in which Leslie Giggal lost his life, just over two weeks before the armistice, to signal the end of WW1:
"On 23rd October, near the village of Ovillers and the River Harpies, the attack began. The jumping-off line for the attack was the road along the eastern bank of the Harpies. The 1st Battalion Lincolnshires were on the left flank of the 62nd Brigade. The two battalions assembled in the valley north-east and north of Amerval and by 9:30am were able to go forward to the line of the River Harpies - one of the main objectives. The advance of the 2nd Battalion was opposed by heavy shellfire and machine gun fire from Poix. There were a large number of enemy machine guns which were captured at a later stage. The 1st Lincolnshires pushed on beside their comrades of the 2nd having first cleared the line to the River Harpies and the south-west portion of Vendegies-au-Bois. They pushed on to the next objective - a line between Vendegies and Poix where they were held up by enemy shellfire and dug in for the night having lost 15 men and 50 wounded. At 4 am on the 24th, the 1st Battalion attacked under a heavy barrage. A Company on the right; C on the left with D in support and B in reserve. The attack was entirely successful and by 6 am Poix and the road running from north-west to southeast beyond it was captured, with the Lincolnshires taking over 100 prisoners."
The "Ossett Observer" 2 had this obituary for Private Leslie Giggal:
"Chickenley Soldier's Fate - Within twenty-three days from leaving home to rejoin his regiment after recuperating from wounds received in March last, Private Leslie Giggal (19), Lincoln Regiment, son of Councillor and Mrs. Allen Giggal, of Chickenley-lane, Chickenley, is reported to have been killed instantaneously by a shell on the Western Front on October 23rd. The sad news, which reached home at the beginning of the week was sent by a comrade. The young soldier as a boy attended the Dewsbury Wheelwright Grammar School, and joined the army in March last year. For some years previously he been engaged in his father's mungo business at Perseverance Mills, Paleside, Ossett, and was well-known locally. Another brother is serving with the forces in India."
Leslie’s medal card records only that he was awarded the British and Victory medals and his WW1 service record has not survived.
Above: Private Leslie Giggal looking smart in his WW1 army uniform. Picture courtesy of Steph Gemma Jones via Ossett Through The Ages Facebook Group.
Private Leslie Giggal is buried in Vendegies-Au-Bois British Cemetery 3 at grave reference A.3 in the Nord region of France. It is situated east of Cambrai, just off the D932 road between Bavray and Le Cateau. Vendegies-au-Bois was captured by British troops on the 23rd October 1918. The Cemetery was made by the 21st Division. There are now over 40, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site (mainly of the 1st Lincolns and the 6th Leicesters, dating from October and November 1918). The Cemetery covers an area of 256 square metres and is enclosed by a brick wall.
1. Lincolnshire Regiment Diary for the 23rd and 24th October 1918.
2. "Ossett Observer", 23rd November 1918