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Person Details
21 Sep 1879
Harry was the son of John William and Elizabeth Bignall. John William Bignall was born in Lenton, Nottingham, in 1851 (A/M/J Radford), and his wife Elizabeth (also known as 'Eliza') in Radford, Nottingham. They had six sons: John Charles b. 1873 Calais France, Arthur b. 1877, Harry b. 21 September 1879, Fred b. 1882, Frank b. 1884 (A/M/J Nottingham; RM record gives DOB 2 April 1883) and Ernest b. 4 February 1887 (J/F/M Nottingham). Apart from the eldest son who was born in France, the other five sons were born in Radford, Nottingham. In 1881 John William Bignall (33), a lace maker, and Elizabeth (29), a cotton winder, were living at 62 Mitchell Street, Radford, with their three sons John (8), Arthur (4) and Harry (1). His father died in August 1888 (J/A/S Basford) aged 37 leaving a widow and six sons, the youngest, Ernest, under two years old. In 1891 the widowed Eliza Bignall (40) was a boarder at 12 Pelican Street, Nottingham, in the household of widower John Mart (40), a steel bar maker. Also in the household were five of her six sons, Arthur (15) a lace bobbin winder, Harry (12), Fred (9), Frank (7) and Ernest (5). Elizabeth's eldest son, John, had joined the Royal Scots Regiment (RS/3829) in 1890 when he was 18 years old. Harry joined the Royal Navy on 6 September 1896 (see 'Military History'). Elizabeth (50), who was now working as a hosiery hand, was living at 39 Ilkeston Road, Nottingham, by 1901. Only three of her sons were in the home on the night of the census: Harry (21) a sailor, Fred (18) a hawker on his own account, and Ernest (15) a steel bar hand. Harry's Naval record shows that he deserted from the Royal Navy on 2 April 1901 so he may have been on leave at the time of the census and failed to return to his ship when his leave expired. Frank had joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Chatham Division) on 24 January 1901; the discrepancy between the date of the registration of his birth (1884) and his date of birth on RMLI records (1883) probably means that Frank claimed to be 18 rather than his actual age of 17 when he enlisted. John was probably still in the army and serving in Ireland. In 1911 Harry (31), a bleach yard labourer, was living at 39 Ilkeston Road, Nottingham. Also in the household was Ethel Mary Gretton (25, b. 1885 A/M/J Nottingham), who was a plain net mender ('at home'), and described as his housekeeper. Also in the home were Ethel's daughters, Edna May Gretton (4, b. 1906 J/A/S Nottingham) and Pashia Gretton (2, b. 1908 O/N/D Nottingham). Harry and Ethel Mary were married in 1912 (J/F/M Nottingham) and probably had three sons: Harry B Bignall b. 1912 (A/M/J Nottingham), Arthur Bignall b. 1914 (J/F/M Nottingham) and John C Bignall b. 1915 (O/N/D Nottingham) who probably died in April 1918 (June Nottingham); all the registrations of their births give the mother's maiden name as 'Gretton'. The family may have been living on Oxford Street, Bulwell, in October 1914 (see 'Extra Information'). Ethel may have remarried after Harry's death (Alfred Cole, 1922 J/F/M Nottingham). Harry's mother, Elizabeth Bignall, married John Mart in 1910 (J/A/S Nottingham) and in 1911 they were living at 19 Bonsall Street, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, with her son Fred (29) a newspaper vendor. Harry's eldest brother, John Charles, had left the 1st Royal Scots having reached the rank of sergeant and in 1911 was living at 64 St James' Street, Nottingham, where he was a caretaker. Also in the home were his wife Minnie (nee Collins) whom he had married in 1901 (O/N/D Belfast Ireland), and their daughters Elizabeth (8, b. Belfast) and Sarah (5, b. Glencoe Scotland). John died on 10 December 1912 aged 40; he was buried in Nottingham General Cemetery. Frank was recorded on the 1911 Census living in Gillingham, Kent; a private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry and married (1910, O/N/D Nottingham). Harry's youngest brother, Ernest, attested on 22 August 1914 (5043 Sherwood Foresters) having previously served in the Territorial Battalion, Robin Hoods (May 1909). He was 27 years old and working as a fitter. In 1939 he and his wife Mary Ellen (b. 17 June 1885) were living at 37 Woodstock Avenue, Churchfield Lane Radford, Nottingham. Ernest was a gas and oil engine fitter. Also in the home were their son William E Bignall (b. 10 September 1912) a joiner bench hand, and his wife Kate H (b. 13 March 1915). Ernest died on 28 September 1952; he was still living at 37 Woodstock Avenue. If the identification of Harry and Ethel's sons is correct, then: Harry B Bignall married Edith W Booth (b. 2 December 1911) in 1934 (J/F/M Nottingham) and in 1939 they were living at 7 Peake Terrace Nottingham. Harry (b. 24 February 1912) was a construction contractor's labourer. Also in the home were their sons Melvin D. (b. 16 March 1934) and Malcolm R. (b. 1 May 1937). Harry died in 1987 (Jun Nottingham) aged 75. His brother Arthur Bignall (b. 27 November 1913) was recorded living in Nottingham in 1939. He was a general labourer and married to Sarah Annie (b. 4 March 1919). Arthur died in 1988 (Nov Nottingham).
He joined the Royal Navy on 6 September 1896 and was discharged on 18 December 1908. He rejoined the Royal Navy on 22 September 1914 ('Hostilities only') but discharged after deserting on 4 October 1914. He joined the Royal Flying Corps on 15 June 1915.
08 Jan 1919
900884 - CWGC Website
Royal Air Force
2nd Aircraft Supply Depot Harry joined the Royal Navy on 6 September 1896 and entered on a 12 year engagement at the age of 18 on 21 September 1897. His RN record shows a number of periods in cells including periods in prison, including a prison sentence after he 'ran' (deserted) on 2 April 1901 while serving in HMS Empress of India. He was rated Petty Officer 2nd Class on 1 October 1906 but was disrated to leading seaman in July 1907 after being charged with 'neglect of duty'. After another period in cells while serving in HMS Endymion he was 'Discharged Shore SNLR [Services No Longer Required]' in December 1908. He rejoined the Royal Navy on 22 September 1914 ('Hostilities only') but was discharged SNLR after deserting on 4 October 1914 from HMS Pembroke, Chatham. Harry joined the Royal Flying Corps on 15 June 1915 at the age of 35. He was promoted flight sergeant on 1 August 1917 but reduced to corporal on May 1918. He died on 8 January 1919 of broncho-pneumonia at the 17th Casualty Clearing Station, Germany. He is buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery (grave ref. IX.E.10).
Nottingham Evening Post, 21 October 1914 [anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar]:'NOTTINGHAM SAILOR IN COURT. 'I am not a deserter, but an absentee.' said Harry Bignall, 35, of Oxford-street, Bulwell, a sailor, when charged at the Nottingham Police-court to-day [21 October 1914] with being a deserter from H.M.S. Pembroke since October 4th. He was remanded for an escort.' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Harry Bignall, 6409 Corporal RAF, legatee widow Ethel M. Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 10 December 1912: ‘Bignall. On the 10th inst., at 64, St James’s-street, John Charles Bignall, late Sergeant 1st Royal Scots, aged 40 years. Funeral Thursday, 2pm, General Cemetery’ (britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
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