Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Rogan has paid tribute to the heroism of Bushmills war hero Robert Quigg VC.
Speaking in a debate at Westminster on the programme to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, Lord Rogan said: “As a young boy growing up in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Second World War, my youth was filled with the immediate deeds and sacrifices of service men and women who fought in that conflagration.
“However, I was also brought up with those from a previous generation who had first tasted the bitter gall of war on an industrial scale on Flanders fields.
“For me, the First World War was a living history. The men who had survived the Somme, Messines and Ypres—or “Wipers” to the Tommies who served and fought there—were relatives and family friends. Those who did not survive left behind the still visible evidence of broken homes and broken lives.
“Life, however, does not stand still.
“Lest we forget” was the promise of the living to the dead of the Great War, and it is a promise that we should not renege on. One such man we should pause to remember was a proud son of North Antrim, Robert Quigg.
“Robert Quigg was born on 28 February 1885 in the townland of Billy, outside Bushmills in north Antrim. Like many others, he joined the Ulster Volunteers in January 1913.
“He went to war with the 36th (Ulster) Division and was serving near Le Hamel on the Somme under his platoon commander, Lieutenant Harry Macnaghten, heir to the estate on which Quigg had worked. On 1 July 1916, they advanced against heavy German machine-gun fire and, by that evening, many men lay dying and wounded in no man’s land, including Lieutenant Macnaghten. Robert Quigg volunteered to leave the comparative safety of the trenches and go out to look for his commander. He did not find him, but he returned with a wounded soldier.
“He went out again and, having not found Macnaghten, returned yet again with a wounded soldier. He did this seven times, rescuing seven comrades, only stopping when complete exhaustion overwhelmed him and, unfortunately, not locating Lieutenant Macnaghten.
“Sergeant Quigg was awarded the VC, survived the war and died on 14 May 1955.
“Several Bushmills residents decided about two years ago to raise sufficient money — we estimated that £75,000 was needed — to erect a permanent memorial to Sergeant Quigg.
“I was only too willing to become a patron of the scheme, and I am confident that we will have achieved this by the 100th anniversary of Battle of the Somme. It will be a lasting memorial to men such as Sergeant Quigg, so that future generations may remember and pay respect.”