John Edward Bigland AM

b. 1885 Manchester, Lancashire.  d. 13/05/1967 Failsworth, Manchester.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 30/04/1918 Crombeke, Belgium.

John E Bigland AM

John Edward Bigland, was born in Manchester, the son of Edward and Harriet Bigland (nee Rushby). On 28th May 1904, in Moston, Manchester, John married Matilda Hall, and they lived at 33 Stanley Street. John and Matilda went on to have four children: James Edward (b. 1908),  Charles (b. 1911), Elsie (b. 1913) and Edward (b. 1914). Following the recuperation from his war wounds, John returned to Manchester. He died in a nursing home in Failsworth, Manchester in 1967.



In Flanders, on the 30th April, 1918, a train of ammunition had been placed at an ammunition refilling point, and after the engine had been detached, and was being run off the train, the second truck suddenly burst into flames. Furlonger immediately ordered Bigland, the driver, to move the engine back on to the train for the purpose of pulling away the two trucks nearest the engine. Bigland did so without hesitation, and the engine was coupled up by Furlonger, assisted by Farren, while the burning truck was uncoupled from the remainder of the train by Woodman. The two trucks were then drawn away clear of .the ammunition dump, it being the intention to uncouple the burning wagon from the engine and the first wagon, and so isolate it, with the object of localising the fire as far as possible. The uncoupling was about to be done when the ammunition exploded, completely wrecking the engine and both trucks, killing Furlonger, Farren and Johnston (a member of the train crew), and seriously wounding Bigland. Had it not been for the prompt and courageous action of these men, whereby three of them lost their lives and one was seriously injured, there is not the slightest doubt that the whole dump would have been destroyed and many lives lost.