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Calls for statue to be erected in memory of VC hero

By Nevin Farrell

Published 06/08/2014

Statue: Sergeant Robert Quigg
Statue: Sergeant Robert Quigg

The race is on to have a life-sized statue of the only man north of Belfast to be awarded the Victoria Cross in time for the centenary of the day he earned the highest order for bravery in the Army.

Sergeant Robert Quigg won the VC for outstanding courage in 'no-man's land' during the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916.

Efforts to have a fitting memorial to Quigg – who survived the horrors of the Western Front and died aged 70 in 1955 – have been going on for some time.

Bushmills historian Robert Thompson, who has compiled several books about soldiers who served in the Great War, said the target is to have the statue in place by July 1, 2016.

"We have more or less got a site for the statue and it has to go through planning permission. It is between the War Memorial and the bottom end of the town," he said. "

"We reckon we need in the region of £45,000 and the fundraising has been going well."

Sergeant Quigg was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery" following the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

His platoon advanced three times only to be beaten back by the Germans. Many hundreds of the 12th Battalion were either killed or wounded.

In the aftermath of the fighting on that day, Quigg, who was aged 31 at the time, discovered that his platoon commander, 20-year-old Second Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten, was missing.

He went out into no-man's land seven times, under heavy enemy fire, to attempt to rescue his officer. Although unable to locate Harry – the heir to the Bushmills' Macnaghten Estate on which Quigg had worked before joining up – he returned with a wounded soldier each time.

Macnaghten's body was never found.

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