Italy 1944 (pre PPA)
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
parent unit Royal Army Service Corps
born 27.8.1916 Airdrie,Lanarkshire
husband of Grace Higgins,16 Springside,Louth,Lincolnshire (latterly 48 Ramsgate,Louth)
miner in civilian life
enlisted 21.8.1939 Stirling
166 (GB) Light Field Ambulance,10th Indian Division 1944 (MM)
PPA 9.4.1945 until disbandment
died April 1994
Military Medal : On the night of 25/26 October two companies of HABHA AKAL State Force Infantry crossed the RIVER RONCO near MELDOLA. Just after the infantry had crossed very heavy rain began and continued for almost thirty-six hours. By the night 27/28 October the river had risen in flood and as all bridges had been blown the only method of establishing communication for the evacuation of wounded across the river seemed to be by aerial rope-way. The officer in charge of the ADS 21 Indian Field Ambulance was ordered to construct this ropeway. During the night 27/28 this officer made his way to the site selected accompanied by a work party which included as a volunteer a temporarily attached British other rank Mo.T/2981417 Dvr. HIGGINS J. RASC. At first light on the morning of the 28th it was found that the RONGO was in spate: at the site selected for the original ropeway the river was about twenty-five yards wide; well over eight feet deep, with a very strong current. This area was also under shell and mortar fire. In spite of the hazardous nature of the undertaking Pte HIGGINS volunteered to swim the river carrying a wire attached to the cable of the ropeway.
He succeeded in crossing, but when he attempted to pull the cable across the wire broke under the strain of the current. Pte HIGGINS got into touch with the infantry across the river, and then swam back to the East bank with a message from them. Although he was by then exhausted Pte HIGGINS volunteered to make a second attempt to swim the river with a wire and try to pull the cable across. He again succeeded in crossing but again the wire broke under the strain. Further attempts were then found unnecessary by the discovery of a boat crossing some distance up river.
In my opinion this soldier's performance of swimming across a river in spate three times in an area under enemy fire shows courage and determination of a very high order.
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