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The Story

The Courage of Robert Quigg VC

Rifleman Robert Quigg was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courageous actions at the Battle of the Somme.

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On the Battlefield

Before the First World War, Robert Quigg worked on the Macnaghten estate close to the Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim. When he enlisted, he served with the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, a regiment of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Fortunately for Quigg, his platoon commander was twenty year old Second Lieutenant Sir Harry Macnaghten, the heir to the Macnaghten estate and a man he would have known well.

On 1st July 1916, Quigg advanced with his platoon towards the German trenches through a torrent of gunfire and artillery. By nightfall, the 12th Battalion had suffered horrific casualties and Quigg learned that Sir Harry Macnaghten was among the missing.

Heroic Deeds

What happened next earned Rifleman Robert Quigg the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour awarded for valour in the British Commonwealth. His medal citation reports that:

“…..Early next morning, hearing a rumour that his platoon officer was lying out wounded, he went out seven times to look for him under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, each time bringing back a wounded man. The last man he dragged in on a waterproof sheet from within a few yards of the enemy’s wire. He was seven hours engaged in this most gallant work, and finally was so exhausted that he had to give it up.”

The last casualty that Quigg saved was Robert Matthews, from the village of Mosside, less than six miles from Bushmills.

Sadly, Quigg never found his platoon commander. Sir Harry Macnaghten has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France; he is among 25 men from Bushmills and district who were killed on the first day of the Somme.

Presented with the Victoria Cross

Robert Quigg was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Sandringham in January 1917. Later in the war, he served in Mesopotamia and Egypt and he continued his army career until 1934, finishing with the rank of Sergeant.

In later life, Quigg returned to the Bushmills area and became a boatman and guide at the Giant’s Causeway, like his father before him. He died in 1955, at the age of seventy, and was buried with full military honours at Billy Parish Church, near Bushmills.

Robert Quigg VC from Stuart Cullen on Vimeo.