CAPTAIN FRANCIS JOHN PIGGOTT
10TH JUNE 1917 AGE
BURIED: TORONTO AVENUE CEMETERY, HAINAULT, BELGIUM
Francis John Piggott was working in marine insurance before he joined up in February 1916. After several months training in both Australia and England, he arrived in France in November 1916 to serve with the 36th Battalion Australian Infantry. Australia's digitised records are phenomenal and one site, the Harrower Collection, documents every single aspect of Piggott's military career together with the bureaucracy surrounding his death.
Piggott was killed on the third day of the Battle of Messines. The Battalion War Diary records the action but doesn't mention his death:
10/6/17: At 3 a.m. threw out Advance Posts on Ulster Avenue and Ulster Drive to line "O" and Tilleui Farm ... At 5 p.m.received orders to storm La Potterie Farm System of trenches. Zero time 11 p.m. Organised 6 Officers and 200 men who carried the works killing 80 Boche and sending back 5 prisoners.
An enquiry by his mother to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau elicited the information that:
Captain F.J. Piggott of C. Coy. of the 36th Battn was killed on the night of the 10th June just prior to the attack at La Potteril (sic) Farm. He and four others were killed instantly by a large shell which fell into the trench. His body was brought back to the Casualty Clearing Station and handed over for burial.
Other witnesses weren't quite so sure about the 'killed instantly'; one reported that he had been "badly wounded through the lung at Messines and died at the dressing station at Charing Cross".