PRIVATE ERIC BURTON HAIGH
19909, 26th (Service) Battalion (Bankers), Royal Fusiliers.
Killed in Action, 14th June 1917.
Aged 20 years.
No known grave, therefore, commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate)
Memorial to the Missing, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. Panel 6 & 8.
|The badge of the Royal Fusiliers
Eric Burton Haigh was the only child born to the marriage of Jonathan Marshall Haigh and his wife Gertrude
(nee Spence). As Eric was born on 27th November 1896 and his mother died a week later on 4th December,
it is, perhaps, not unreasonable to surmise that she died of some sort of complication arising from the birth of her son.
Jonathan, a bookkeeper and banker’s cashier and Gertrude had been married for less than two years when she died.
Jonathan Haigh was from Idle in Bradford and Gertude was from Leeds. They lived in Horsforth when Gertrude died and Gertrude
is buried in Horsforth Cemetery.
the time of the 1901 census, Jonathan and Eric Haigh were living with Jonathan’s older brother, William and his family.
William was a clerk to a chartered accountant, so it seems that the family was closely linked to the banking and financial
world, and this is possibly the route of employment that Eric Haigh took up on leaving school, especially as he later went
on to join a battalion of the Royal Fusiliers specifically raised to attract members of financial institutions to its ranks.
|The name of Eric Burton Haigh on the Menin Gate Memorial
In mid-1905 Jonathan married Florence Isabella Armitage. As Mrs Florence Haigh, she took up an appointment
on 31st October 1911 as the first permanent Head Mistress of the new village school in Scholes. It is noted that
Mrs Haigh undertook courses in horticulture and handywork and she put her new skills to work around the school, something
which pleased visiting school inspectors. It seems that Mrs Haigh led the school through its first years with skill and dedication
and when she handed over the role of Headmistress to Miss Annie Cox on 3rd July 1916, Miss Cox took over a well-established,
stable and happy school.
|The Haigh family grave in Horsforth Cemetery.
Whether or not Florence
Haigh’s health was a factor in her leaving the school is not known, but she died aged 42 on 3rd April 1924
after 18 years of marriage to Jonathan. The inscription on her headstone describes her as ‘The faithful and loving wife
of J Marshall Haigh’ and ‘A real mother to the above Eric Burton Haigh’. It goes on to say she was ‘A
friend of the children’ and this can be read as both a reference to her as a teacher, or as a person in general.
There is a bitter irony in that Eric Burton Haigh had survived a costly attack made by his battalion on 7th
June 1917 in which the battalion lost some 203 casualties, killed, wounded and missing and at the time of his death just a
week later the battalion was engaged in manning trenches near St Eloi, in the south of the Ypres Salient. It was standing
to arms in anticipation of an enemy counter attack that never materialised when their trenches were heavily shelled and seven
men from the battalion were killed, including Pte Eric Burton Haigh, and all seven of these are recorded as missing on the
panels of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper (Ypres), their bodies not being recovered for burial.
|Horsforth War Memorial.
As well as being named on the War Memorial at Scholes, and on the Manor House Nominal Roll, Private Haigh
is further commemorated by name on the panels of the War Memorial in Horsforth and with an inscription on the grave of his
mother, father and step-mother in Horsforth Cemetery, where his details are accompanied by the inscription ‘A life of
promise unfulfilled here.’