A fine West Africa Benin Expedition 1897 and long service pair awarded to Able Seaman later Chief Petty Officer W. Higgin, Royal Navy, who saw service aboard the cruiser Theseus during the expedition to Benin City against Chief Overiami who was involved in the slave trade and in practices of human sacrifice, and having then received the long service medal whilst with the armoured cruiser Cressy in December 1909, went on to see service aboard the Q-Ship ‘Q-12’ aka Tulip during the Great War, and survived her sinking by the German submarine U-62,

Price: £430.00


Product ID: CMA/26993
Condition: light contact wear, Good Very Fine.
Availability: IN STOCK
Description:

A fine West Africa Benin Expedition 1897 and long service pair awarded to Able Seaman later Chief Petty Officer W. Higgin, Royal Navy, who saw service aboard the cruiser Theseus during the expedition to Benin City against Chief Overiami who was involved in the slave trade and in practices of human sacrifice, and having then received the long service medal whilst with the armoured cruiser Cressy in December 1909, went on to see service aboard the Q-Ship ‘Q-12’ aka Tulip during the Great War, and survived her sinking by the German submarine U-62, southwest of Ireland, on 30th April 1917, when the German captain, having taken the Tulip’s commanding officer prisoner, proceeded to let Tulip’s crew to go on the boats with enough provisions to make it to shore.

East and West Africa Medal 1887-1900, 1 Clasp: Benin 1897; (173208. W. HIGGIN. A.B. H.M.S. THESEUS.); Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, EVII bust; (173208 WILLIAM HIGGIN, P.O., H.M.S. CRESSY.)

Condition: light contact wear, Good Very Fine.

William Higgin was born on 23rd November 1876 in Blackburn, Lancashire, and having worked as a weaver, then joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class (Chatham No.173208) with Impregnable on 12th April 1893, being then rated as a Boy 1st Class on 3rd May 1894. Rated as an Ordinary Seaman whilst with Pembroke on 23rd November 1894, he was posted aboard the protected cruiser Theseus from 14th January 1896, and was rated as Able Seaman whilst aboard her on 10th August 1896, having specialised in gunnery.

Seeing service aboard Theseus in the Mediterranean, in January 1897 Theseus was ordered from the Mediterranean to join Rear Admiral Sir Harry Rawson’s fleet that had been sent to West Africa for a punitive expedition against Benin. The force was assembled off the coast of Benin by 3rd February, with landings taking place on 9th February, and Benin City was captured on 18th February and the force re-embarked on the ships of the fleet on 27th February. The ship's crew suffered badly from malaria as a result of her service during the Benin expedition, and when Theseus was refitted at Chatham later that year she required a thorough disinfection.

The Benin Expedition officially lasted from 6th February to 7th August 1897, the operations centred round an expedition to Benin City against Chief Overiami who was involved in the slave trade and in practices of human sacrifice. Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Hamilton, East Yorkshire Regiment, commanded a force of Niger Coast Constabulary and Rear Admiral Rawson, Royal Navy, and aboard St George, was in overall command. Commissioner Ralph Moor accompanied the expedition. This is one of the few instances where naval personnel who remained on board were entitled to the East and West Africa Medal 1887-1900, with relevant clasp, in this case Benin 1897, with Higgin gaining entitlement.

Higgin was posted off Theseus on 2nd July 1897, and went on to see further service afloat aboard Diadem, and was aboard her when he was rated as Leading Seaman on 1st October 1899. Promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class whilst with Pembroke on 1st July 1901, and as a Petty Officer 1st Class whilst still with Pembroke on 8th August 1904, he was by them serving as a Leading Torpedo Operator. Higgin was serving aboard the armoured cruiser Cressy when he was awarded the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on 6th December 1909.

With the outbreak of the Great War, Higgin was serving with the shore base Actaeon, being posted to Pembroke on 24th June 1916, he then joined the Q-Ship - Q.12 other wise known as Tulip, being aboard her from 28th August 1916, and rated as Acting Chief Petty Officer aboard her on 1st December 1916. In January 1917 she claimed to have sunk a U-Boat, this having never been confirmed, however on 30th April 1917, Tulip was herself torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-62, southwest of Ireland. The crew were allowed to go on the boats with enough provisions, and Captain Lewis was taken prisoner by U-62.

Higgin was amongst those men allowed to get into the lifeboats, and having made it to shore, then joined Defiance, the torpedo establishment from 1st May 1917. Promoted to Chief Petty Officer on 1st December 1917, he then joined Cormorant for service aboard the Admiralty requisitioned trawler Edwina on anti-submarine duties out of Gibraltar from 20th June 1918, and remained with Edwina through to the end of the war, latterly being at Malta in March 1919, and demobilised ashore on 21st June 1919. Additionally entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.