School Historian Victor Branson has discovered a collection of items belonging to Old Andrean and WWI soldier, Captain John Francis Piggott. Branson found the items while conducting research in the school’s archives. They offer a fascinating window into Piggott’s world: his schooling, family life and untimely death during WWI.
The discovery coincides with the near completion of a comprehensive history of St Andrew’s Cathedral School, expected to be released later this year. The following account of Piggot’s death, written by Branson, is a snippet of what will appear in the book:
One boy sacrificed his life: Captain Francis John Piggott, born in 1883, went to the Choir School in the 1890s. He was an insurance agent until he joined the First Australian Imperial Force in February 1916. He embarked on the Beltana on 13 May 1916 and arrived in France on 23 November. Piggott fought at Armentieres, after which he was granted leave before returning to the battlefield for the advance at Messines in Belgium on the 7 June 1917. On the night of June 10, the 36th battalion attacked the line, but a German shell exploded in Piggott’s trench and he died immediately. According to his friend Major T McPherson, Francis John Piggott was ‘a splendid officer … and a great favourite with his men, always shared their hardships and dangers and guarded their interest… we could ill afford to lose a man of his character.’