Fireman Albert Thomas Higley of Shanklin section of the National Fire Service died of wounds sustained in action, on 23 July 1942 aged 46.
Albert was born on 11 May 1896 in Alveston, Warwickshire, where his father John worked as a farm carter and the family were tenanted at Mud Cottage. The 1901 Census shows that John and his wife Jane had seven children of which Albert was the fourth. By 1911 Albert's two youngest siblings are missing, presumed to have died in the previous decade and only he, aged 16, and his 14-year-old brother Thomas remain at the cottage with their parents.
A record of a Private A. Higley has been located serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment during the First World War but it is unproven if this was Albert although quite likely given the impositions of the Military Service Act of 1916. Additionally he was a popular member of Shanklin's branch of the British Legion between the wars.
The next confirmed and dated record for Albert finds him on the Isle of Wight marrying local girl Violet Margaret Sheilah Richardson of Shanklin in 1932. When the 1939 Register was taken the couple and a young son were located at 12 Wilton Road with Albert working as a bricklayer but no mention of any membership of the rapidly expanding Air Raid Precautions or fire service. At some point Albert did volunteer for the National Fire Service and he was with a crew from Shanklin fighting fires in the Somerton area when he received wounds from enemy bombing during the night of the infamous Cowes Blitz.
At Somerton his colleagues carried his battered body to an ambulance and he was conveyed to the County Hospital at Ryde. Evidently Albert battled hard to overcome the serious nature of his injuries and because his battle wasn't lost until 23 July, nearly three months later, he isn't formally listed as a victim of that raid. However there is no doubt that if not for being felled during the raid Albert would have returned to Shanklin fire station with his colleagues in the late morning of 5 May.
It was six of his firefighting colleagues, Firemen Burberry, Kingswell (who was also to die in action within six months), Hall, Hiscock, Whittington and Smith that bore his coffin on their shoulders at his funeral in St Saviour's Church where the Rev. R.B. Copley officiated.
Rest in peace Fireman Higley.