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Jim Haigh

Date of birth: 1891
Date of death: 7.5.1916
Area: Outwood
Regiment: Leicestershire
Family information: Husband of Florence Haigh nee Oliver
Rank: Private
Service number: 19533

War Service

When war was declared, Jim Haigh enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was given the service number 25355. However, he was later transferred to the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment and given the service number 19533. Due to the absence of his service record, it is not known when this transfer occurred.
When war was declared, the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment was part of the Meerut Division of the Indian Army. Almost immediately the battalion was deployed to France, but after twelve months on the western front, on 7th November 1915, the battalion moved to Egypt. However, due to the problems being experienced by the British and Indian armies in Mesopotamia, in late December 1915, the 2nd Leicesters sailed for Basra. Here the 2nd Battalion rejoined the 7th Meerut Division, part of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force.
In order to protect the oilfields and refineries on the Persian Gulf, on the 21st November 1914, the seaport of Basra was captured by an Indian Division. In the spring of 1915, British and Indian forces advanced up the River Tigris, capturing the oilfields at Amara and Nasiriya. A further advance in August saw the Turks defeated at Kut-el-Amara and the allies advance towards Baghdad. However, during November 1915, the allied advance was brought to a halt at Ctesiphon, some 16 miles south-east of Baghdad. Due to heavy losses, the British and Indian army was forced to withdraw towards Kut. It was here, on 8th December 1915, they became surrounded by Turkish forces. In 1916, a relief column, which included the 2nd Leicesters, was unable to break through the Turkish lines covering the approaches along the Tigris. Consequently, on the 29th April 1916, the army at Kut surrendered and went into captivity.
On 7th May 1916, Private Jim Haigh died from enteric fever. Also known as typhoid fever, the disease was transmitted by the ingestion of contaminated food and water. He is buried at the Basra Military Cemetery, which was started in December 1914, when it was known as the Makina Masul Old Cemetery.
In 1917 a new extension was added and later the site was enlarged, when over 1000 graves were brought in from other burial grounds. The Basra Military Cemetery now contains 2551 burials from the First World War, of which 74 are unidentified. In 1935 the headstones marking these graves were removed, when it was discovered salts in the soil were causing them to deteriorate. The names of the men buried in these graves were recorded on a screen wall.

Family Life

This casualty is believed to be James Haigh, the son of Jackson Haigh and his wife Lucy, formerly Travis, of Cridling Stubbs, near Pontefract. Born in 1891, when his father, Jackson Haigh, was employed as a labourer at a lime quarry. On leaving school, Jim Haigh found work as a labourer, at a nearby colliery. During the summer of 1910, Jim Haigh married Florence Oliver, the daughter of Alfred and Frances Oliver of South Hiendley. In the 1911 census, Jim and his wife are shown living at Brook’s Buildings, at South Hiendley. His parents and siblings were living at Knottingley, where his father was working as a carpenter’s labourer. Shortly after the birth of their two children, Ethel and James, Jim Haigh and his wife lived at 13 Princess Street, Outwood. His wife’s brother, George Henry Oliver, his wife and family, were also living at Outwood.

Aerial photograph of Basra Military Cemetery surrounded by desert Basra Military Cemetery

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