My Great Grandfather and the Great War

My Great Grandfather, John Wrigley, 1915

My Great Grandfather, John Wrigley, 1915

Over the summer vacation, I was rummaging around some old family photos at my Dad's house and he showed me two articles from 1915.  It turns out that my great grandfather not only fought in the First World War, but also survived the Battle of Hill 60 at Ypres in 1915.  His story is incredible, he was shot in the arm during the battle.  As the Germans hurled grenades at his platoon he dived back into his trench, found some cardboard packaging to use as a makeshift bandage for his arm and walk 5km back to Ypres to receive medical treatment.   He survived the ordeal, and had to live with a plate in his arm for the remainder of his life.  It was taken out a few years before he died.  A typical Wrigley, he asked to keep it as a souvenir, but the doctors refused and it ended up as a museum piece.

Below are his accounts written in a letter to his father, published in the Sheffield Telegraph in 1915.  His words do it far more justice than I ever could. 

J. Wrigley's arm with plate.

J. Wrigley's arm with plate.

The Sight Around Hill 60.

Sheffield Telegraph 1st May 1915

My Great Grandfather, J. Wrigley

My Great Grandfather, J. Wrigley

Private J. Wrigley, of the 2nd King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who was wounded in the fierce fighting around Hill 60, sends an interesting letter to his father, Mr. John Wrigley, of 425 Langsett Road, Sheffield, contract manager of the Post Office telephones.

“I never want to witness another sight like that I saw on Sunday night.” he writes.  “There were hundreds of dead and dying all around, men blown to bits, shells falling every yard.  We were only a few yards from the Germans, and they were throwing hand grenades and bombs among us.  They also had two or three machine guns turned on us, in fact it was hell.  I was going forward with the remainder of my platoon when my arm fell, as if somebody had given me a terrible kick.  I looked down, and it was bleeding fast, so I turned back, and got into our trenches, put my arm on a cardboard box, and walked with it this way to Ypres, three miles away.”

Mr. Wrigley has in all four sons in the service.  He has another son in the 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., one in the 1st Field Company Sheffield Engineers, and another in training with the Sheffield Engineers at Doncaster.

 

Father and Five Sons - Sheffield Family’s Fine Army Record

Sheffield Daily Independent 27th November 2015

1. Father, John Wrigley 2. Richard Wrigley 3. Ernest Wrigley 4. John Wrigley (My Great Grandfather) 5. Joseph Wrigley 6. Robert Wrigley 7. Mother Mrs. Wrigley

1. Father, John Wrigley 2. Richard Wrigley 3. Ernest Wrigley 4. John Wrigley (My Great Grandfather) 5. Joseph Wrigley 6. Robert Wrigley 7. Mother Mrs. Wrigley

A striking instance of family patriotism, possibly a record for the Sheffield district is furnished in the case of Sergt. John Wrigley, R.A.M.C., and his wife.  In civilian life Sergt Wrigley, who is now stationed at the Third Northern Base, is well-known as telephone contracts manager.  He served with the Gordon Relief Expedition and holds the medal and Khedive’s clasp.  In addition to “doing his bit” he has five sons now serving King and Country.  In order they are:-

Private Ernest Wrigley, 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., now in France:  Pte. John Wrigley, of the same regiment, wounded in France on Hill 60, and has been in hospital since:  Second Lient. Joseph Wrigley, 3/5 Y. and L. Regt., Rotherham Territorial unit, now in training:  Sapper Richard Wrigley, 1st Field Co., Sheffield Engineers, who was one of the first to land with the Engineers in the Dardanelles, was wounded in both legs, in the eyes and shot across the top if the head, since invalided home with dysentery:  Sapper Robert Wrigley, now with the Sheffield Engineers in training.