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Albert Victor Haigh

Albert Victor Haigh was born at Horbury Road, Ossett on the 5th November 1897, and was baptised at South Ossett Church on the 12th December 1897. He was the fourth surviving child and second son of stone mason Walter Haigh and his wife Emily (nee Moss) who had married in Ossett in early 1888.

By 1901, Walter Haigh was working as a grocer in Ossett and he and his wife Emily were still living in Horbury Road, Ossett with five children, including Albert. By 1911, the Haigh's eldest child had moved away from the family home, but in 1907, Walter and Emily Haigh had another child to complete their family, which now comprised six surviving children. Sadly, two other children from their marriage had died before 1911. The Haigh family lived in a five-roomed house at 12, Horbury Road, Ossett. Albert Haigh, who was known within the family as Victor, was at Ossett Grammar School.

The Haigh family were all still living in Ossett in 1913/14 and it is thought that Albert Haigh served with the Royal Artillery during WW1, but survived the Great War and returned home. Unfortunately, it seems that he did not get on well with his family members and he made the decision to move as far away from them as possible, first to Penzance in Cornwall some time after 1919 and then to Plymouth in Devon.

It is probable that he left Penzance for Plymouth in 1938 and by 1939, he was living at a lodging house at 6, Elliot Street, Plymouth and was working as a bank cashier in the city. Two of his thirteen fellow lodgers at 6, Elliot Street were also bank clerks. Other residents included a Royal Navy captain from HMS "Blake" and a 69 year-old ARP warden. Plymouth was, of course, a naval city, and neighbouring lodging house was partly occupied by officers of the Royal Naval Reserve.

Haigh was an amateur actor with the Penzance Players during his time in Cornwall and an engraved pewter mug was presented to him by the group, possibly as a leaving present in 1938, when he moved to live in Plymouth.

It isn't certain when Albert Haigh's parents died, but it is thought that his mother Emily died in 1933 or 1934, and his father Walter died in early 1941. Both deaths were registered in the Dewsbury Registration District that included Ossett at that time.

Albert Victor Haigh was killed in an enemy air raid whilst he was fire watching at Plymouth on the 21st March 1941. The CWGC web site records Albert as a civilian, working as a volunteer fire watcher, of 2, The Crescent, Plymouth and his place of death was the Midland Bank, Bedford Street, Plymouth. His parents' address was given as 'Wynfield', Ossett, which is thought to be Park Square. Haigh, then aged 43 years, was one of 1,121 civilians dead from WW2 who are buried at Plymouth. There is no record of a marriage for Albert Haigh.

The "Gloucester Echo" for the 22nd March 1941 had this report:

"ANOTHER BLITZ ON PLYMOUTH - HEROIC WORK BY FIRE FIGHTERS - For the second night in succession, Plymouth was the main target of the Nazi raiders last night, when thousands of incendiaries and many high explosives were rained down in a heavy raid. The raid began some time after dark, with high explosives being dropped. Then showers of fire bombs were unloaded to be followed by more explosives. Buildings were destroyed and a number of others severely damaged. Many people were made homeless when private houses were wrecked. Damage to business premises was considerable. Fire defence and civil defence workers fought fires throughout the night. Side-by-side with them, rescue workers also toiled heroically."

The "Ossett Observer" for the 19th April 1941 carried this obituary for Albert Victor Haigh:

"Ossett Man Presumed Killed in Air Raid - Fire Watcher Missing After Building Destroyed - A well-known former Ossett man, Mr. Victor Haigh, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Walter Haigh is presumed dead as the result of a recent air raid on Plymouth. It was Mr. Haigh's turn that evening to act as a fire-watcher at the branch of the Midland Bank at which he was employed, and during a severe attack by German bombers, the manager of the branch, who was at home, received an urgent telephone call from Mr. Haigh informing him that the bank had caught fire, and asking him to come there immediately. The manager complied and on arrival found the building a mass of flames, the fire brigade being in action. A thorough search was made during the night, but no trace of Mr. Haigh could be found.

Mr. Haigh, who was 43 years of age, was educated at South Ossett Church school, and sang in South Ossett Church choir as a boy. He afterwards joined the Midland Bank, serving at branches in Leeds, Penzance and Bristol, before going to Plymouth. He was unmarried. There are two brothers: Mr. William Haig (Wigan and Mr. Tom Haigh (Cawthorne), and three sisters: Mrs. D. Fearnside (Scarborough), Mrs. Mitchell (Harrogate) and Mrs. Wilcock (Aylsbury, Bucks.). Mr Haigh has an uncle and three aunts in Ossett: Mr. Joe Moss, Miss Moss and Miss A. Moss of Wycliffe Street and Mrs. Walter Lockwood of Town End. Mr. Harold Moss, headmaster of Holy Trinity School is a cousin."

Civilian men and women of the British Commonwealth and Empire, who died in during WW2, are commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorials or buried in CWGC cemeteries.

After Albert Haigh's death administration of his Will was granted to his brother William Edward Haigh, officer of Customs and Excise and his sister Alice Mitchell (wife of William Melville Mitchell). His effects were valued at £2,921.

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site