Robert Quigg

Robert Quigg was born on February 28th 1885 at Ardihennon, County Antrim where his father worked as a boatman and tourist guide on the Giants Causeway. He was educated at the Giants Causeway National School where he was described as "A diligent and reliable pupil". On leaving school he held several farm labouring  jobs, finally working on the estate of Sir E C McNaughten up to the time of war breaking out
Robert Quigg volunteered and was signed up for service in September 1914 as a rifleman with the 12th battalion, Royal Irish Rifles-Mid Antrim Volunteers. By coincidence his platoon officer was Harry McNaughten, son of the estate owner where Robert had worked. Despite social and class differences, the two men apparently built up a close friendship. On the morning of July 1st, the Mid-Antrim Volunteers met a fierce response from the German machine gunners as they emerged from Thiepval Wood. His platoon advanced no less than three times, being beaten back by the ferocity of the defenders on each occasion. After the assaults in which hundreds of the 12th battalion had lost their lives, word got back that Lieutenant Harry McNaughten was missing on the battlefield. Robert Quigg immediately volunteered to go out and try to find him. Over the course of seven hours he ventured out under intense machine gun and shellfire on no less than seven occasions. Each time he returned with a wounded colleague. It is said that on his last foray into no-mans land, he crawled to within yards of the German wire and dragged a badly injured man back on a groundsheet. These heroic actions earned Robert Quigg his Victoria Cross which was gazetted on September 9th 1916. Sadly Harry McNaughten was never recovered from the battlefield. On January 8th 1917 Robert Quigg travelled to Sandringham House in Norfolk to receive his decoration from King George V  A story at the time relates that when the presentation was being made, the king commented, "You're a very brave man Quigg". To which the Ulsterman replied, "You're a brave man yourself King".Whether this is true or not is, I think, open to debate. On his return to his hometown, he was afforded a hero's welcome by his fellow citizens. The McNaughten family were foremost in this with Lady McNaughten presenting him with a gold watch in recognition of his bravery and selflessness in trying to find her son.He saw out the war and remained in the army, finally retiring in 1926 after an accident in Belfast. In 1929 Robert attended the VC reunion dinner held in the Royal Gallery at the House of Lords.There was to be one more encounter with the monarchy when in 1953 Robert Quigg was presented to the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth 11. Robert Quigg VC died on May 14th 1955 aged 70 in Ballycastle, County Antrim.He was buried with full military honours in Billy parish churchyard.His Victoria Cross and Medal of the order of St George 4th class, which was presented to him by Russia are held at the Royal Irish Rifles museum in Waring St Belfast.