Rifleman (later Sergeant) Robert Quigg, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery” following the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, a terrible and tragic event still deeply etched into the memory of many Bushmills families.
In the aftermath of the fighting on that day, Quigg discovered that his platoon commander, twenty-year-old Second Lieutenant Sir Harry Macnaghten, the young squire of the Dundarave estate on which Quigg had worked before joining up, was missing.
He went out into no-man’s land seven times, under heavy enemy fire, to attempt to rescue his officer and, though unable to locate Sir Harry, he returned with a wounded soldier each time. He was “seven hours engaged in this most gallant work” and eventually had to give up his search due to physical exhaustion.
The Robert Quigg V.C. Commemoration Society was formed in 2012 by local war historian Robert Thompson in order to ensure that the courage of Quigg VC and the historical significance of his actions are commemorated throughout his birthplace of Bushmills and district.
The Society’s central aim is to raise sufficient funds to erect a sculpture of this First World War hero in his home town, to coincide with the centenary of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme, on 1st July 2016.
The Society has been in discussions with Moyle District Council to select a prominent site on Whitepark Road, Bushmills for the sculpture.
The Society is also in the process of selecting a sculptor and a request for planning application will be submitted in the coming months. The anticipated cost for completion of the project is £60,000 and many fundraising events have already taken place.
The response from the public has been overwhelming with £12,000 raised to date and the Society would like to thank all those individuals and organisations that been so generous and supportive.
However, with just over two years left to raise the target figure, the Society is planning several ambitious events in the months ahead.
Among their plans is a coach trip to the Somme battlefields and military cemeteries, departing from Bushmills on Thursday 2nd October 2014 and returning on Tuesday 7th October.
The trip will include the famous nightly memorial service at the Menin Gate, Ypres, and visits to other sites linked to the most significant events in the Western Front campaign.
One of the most poignant occasions on the trip will be a special ceremony which will honour the Bushmills men who fell and commemorate the actions of Quigg VC close to where he performed his courageous deeds.
A total of 45 places are available on this most interesting tour and bookings will be taken on a first come basis. More detailed information about the tour and initial enquiries about booking a place should be made by post to Robert Quigg VC Commemoration Society, 67 Millgrange, Ballymoney, BT53 7QB or by email to email@example.com or to Leonard Quigg, Chairman, Mob: 07891753473.
Another important event is a fund-raising Gala Dinner to be held on Friday 27th February 2015 in the Ross Park Hotel, Kells, Co. Antrim. Further information about this event will be made available later this year, but any initial enquires can be made to the contact details given above.
Finally, a small commemorative book entitled “Robert Quigg V.C. - A Bushmills Hero” is currently being prepared and it is hoped that it will be published sometime in 2015.
The Society will be providing local newspapers with regular updates on events and their progress with the sculpture project. In addition, a comprehensive new Robert Quigg VC website will also be launched in June which will include weekly news bulletins from the Society and a chance to learn more about the story of our local WWI hero.
The committee members of the Society would like to take this opportunity to express their sincere and grateful thanks to all those groups and individuals who have supported their project with such generously so far.