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Remembered Today:

Acting Major James White Higgins - RFC & RAF


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Does anyone have any information on this officer who was from Glasgow and had previously served as a Lieutenant in the RFA.

He was mentioned in despatches in LG on 6.7.17 anyone know what this would have been for ? He was also entitled to TFWM.

MIC says he went to Egypt in Feb 16.



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  • 2 months later...

Hi Peter,

This is my maternal grandfather (b. 1885 - d. 1961). I'm rather new to genealogy and haven't much knowledge of deciphering military records and can't understand much of the attached file.

It is said he met T. E. Lawrence while in Egypt. His father Robert Cameron Higgins owned the Avonbank weaving factory in Glasgow.

I have a family photo of him in a military uniform as an older man (WWII?) where it is said he was a colonel (reserves or something?).

If you would be willing to contact me and help make sense of it all I would be very grateful.


Gavin Johns


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For the uninitiated, the TFWM being reference in the MIC is the Territorial Force War Medal:

The Territorial Force War Medal was a campaign medal awarded to members of the British Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services who served overseas in World War I; it is the rarest of the five British Great War medals.

The medal was established in April 1920 for award to members of the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services who volunteered for service overseas on or before 30 September 1914, and served overseas. They had to:

  • have been serving with the force on 4 August 1914 or
  • have completed four years service with the force before 4 August 1914 and rejoined the force on or before 30 September 1914

In addition provided they:

  • Undertook, either verbally or by written agreement on or before 30 September 1914 to serve outside the United Kingdom, such agreement being operative after 4 August 1914, and
  • Have served outside the United Kingdom between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 (both dates inclusive; note that the last date was in 1918 though the years on the reverse said 1914-19) and
  • Did not qualify for the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star

I'm wondering if the "R.A." superscript means that he earned the TFWM through his service in the artillery and not the RFC?

He is also entitled to "the pair," the WWI Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

I am curious to what exactly NW/6/10645 is, as it seems to be referenced quite a lot on the front of the card.

I want to say that his RFA rank is Captain, but I am rotten at reading script. The RFC rank looks to be Major, I just have no idea what the first letters are in front of Major.

On the back I can make out: "? for ? medals by Secretary Air Ministry 20 April 1921." Officers had to apply for their medals to be sent for them, as opposed to rankers who had them sent automatically (I believe),

The next line is "Returned 4 Aug. 1921 (?)" I assume that means the address was incorrect but I am spitballing here.

I hope this helps, as I am rather new at this myself and am more familiar with US information.

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Jove has done pretty well in explanation !

I too would say that he became entitled to the TFWM whilst serving as a Captain with the RA.

The RFC rank is as the heading to the post, A/Major.

The NW/ references are often seen on MICs and are to do with files in the administration process.

On the back "App'd (applied) for War Medals .....etc"

"E.F.9 Ret'd 4.8.1921..." another form ref in the process of medal issue.

This man will have a service file somewhere but not in the public domain,which Gavin could apply for a copy of.

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This forum is a godsend.

I have the NA service record but I do find it hard to interpret. I have managed to find most of the info published in The London Gazette at least.

But whilst searching I came across the Spinks medal auction cat. from November 2012. This was rather sad to see and am still waiting for a reply from all 5 chaps in their medal dept. for buyer contact info to see if I can purchase them.

My deceased uncle whom I met only as a small boy, must have needed the cash. But at least the catalogue gave me new information and a photo. Does the Spinks mention of forcing down an Albatros explain the MID from 6th July 1917?

I wonder what the MID from May 1918 is all about?



I believe the "Kissing of the Ring" anecdote is from the book 'Into the Blue' by Captain Norman Macmillan M.C., A.F.C. - which I have ordered.

Does anyone know what the Home Establishment was?



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With regard to locating his medals, by finding that they have been through a Spink auction, you now know that they exist in the hands of a collector somewhere which is an excellent start.

Have you tried the British Medal Forum?:


I have been a member of that forum for a good few years now, they are a friendly and knowledegable group. As well as searching the forum to see if someone has talked about the medals in question, they have a 'Medals Wanted' section where you can post a request. Someone on the forum may be in possesion of his medals.

I have seen a good number of family reunites via that forum, though clealrly whether the collector wants to sell is their choice.

As an example, on my BMF signature I included a plea to locate the WWI trio to my great uncle who was killed in action in 1917. I never expected to see them. However, last year, after about four years of waiting, a BMF member told me that his medals were on a dealers web site, and they are now with me so with the family again.

They also have a useful web search tool which will search medal dealers web sites for you.

I hope that this is of use to you.

Regards, Steve

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Gavin, the trio was obviously split at some point (which I hate). I have his BWM only. PM me your email address so we can connect offline from the Forum.


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Steve, thank you for that. I'm now awaiting my reg. confirmation from the BMF.

It's funny how family history grabs you by the nuts; as I've started getting a few RFC items (cap badge, Observer badge, plastic Sopwith Strutter plane and even an Albatros D.III after reading this account:

http://www.deakin.broadwaymanor.co.uk/first-world-war/robert-deakin-45-squadron-RFC.html )

This is the best family photo I have from WWII and that part will also take a bit of detective work :-)




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I don't think the MID would be for forcing down the D.III. The Spink auction information says he arrived at No. 45 2 days after he was listed in the LG, and then 8 days later (16/7) he forced down the D.III.

Although as mismatched as a Strutter was against a D.III he certainly deserved something for that feat!

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A most heart-warm thank you to all responders. I want to buy a round :thumbsup:

Steve, thank you very much for sending me to the British Medal Forum. Both forums have added far more to my understanding of granddad James in one week than I could have ever achieved myself.

As a child I seem to remember it was said he was a Colonel but, for all my adult life, thought it may have been Chinese Whispers.

From BMF forum:

"In the London Gazette of 20th May 1927 Lt-Col J. W. Higgins is promoted Brevet-Colonel. In the London Gazette of 11th September 1928 he retired upon completion of command, 1st September 1928. That possibly dates the photograph."

Is it okay to quote from another forum as I realise not all join the BMF. It's as if I would need to merge the two forums :whistle:

I have spent hours on the net getting confused by names of regiments, brigades, etc., for the RFA! At least with the RFC he was with 45 Sqn. I will try to build my plastic Sopwith 1and1/2 Strutter as best I can for that 16th July 1917 incident (serial no. A8292) from the Deakin link above.

Is there anywhere to find out why someone was MID? I get the impression it's rare?

Is that a thistle collar badge donating RFA? I can't seem to see the text.

I was also happy to get a mail from Spinks today saying they could pass my contact details to the buyer but naturally there's no divine right to a reply.

If you can bear with me I would appreciate any input. As a friend at work often replies: "We've got Top men working on it!"



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as I mentioned, his RFC record has his 30th May 1918 mention as by Plumer in Italy. Maybe other Pals on the Forum could guess at the circumstances from this.


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Guest nictomkins

Gavin get in touch with me, i have just found out that we are related through JWC wife, who was my fathers auntie, i have got lots of family history for you.Ring 07974390146 or e-mail nictomkins@gmail.com


nic Tomkins

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Gavin - see my PM message ref Higgins BWM.



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