Cyril Spurgeon RIGNEY

Poppy

RIGNEY, Cyril Spurgeon

Service Number: 2042
Enlisted: 26 April 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Point McLeay, South Australia, 22 February 1897
Home Town: Point McLeay, The Coorong, South Australia
Schooling: Point McLeay Public School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 3 July 1917, aged 20 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Raukkan Aboriginal Community War Memorial, Raukkan Mission Ngarrindjeri Anzacs Memorial, Raukkan Point McLeay Mission Church War Memorial Window
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World War 1 Service

26 Apr 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
13 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2042, 50th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
13 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2042, 50th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Bee, Adelaide
3 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2042, 43rd Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Cyril Spurgeon Rigney's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography

Son of Benjamin and Rachel Rigney; Husband of Constance M. Kropinyeri (formerly Rigney), of Tailem Bend, South Australia.

"Indigenous leaders say Rigney brothers' WWI efforts 'should not be forgotten. By Nicola Gage

Despite not being considered citizens at the time, more than 1,000 Indigenous men and women volunteered to fight in the Great War. Many of their stories are still being unearthed and Aboriginal leaders want to ensure they are not forgotten. One of those stories is that of the Rigney brothers from South Australia's Murray Mouth, who never returned home. Aboriginal teenager Rufus Rigney was 16 when he lied about his age to fight in World War I. His older brother Cyril and his cousins had already enlisted, so Rufus left his home at Raukkan Mission near SA's Coorong and headed for the battlefields. Like many other Indigenous men and women, Rufus was granted temporary citizenship to sign up. Relative Daryle Rigney said he wanted to join his brother and cousins and fight for his country.

"His family wasn't very happy about that and didn't really want him to do that, arguing he was too young but nevertheless he made the decision and went and did that," Mr Rigney said." - READ MORE LINK (www.abc.net.au)

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Biography contributed by David Rafferty

Cyril Rigney was born at Point Macleay on 22 February 1897. He worked as a labourer in the area and married Constance Varcoe in January 1916. On 26 April 1916 he enlisted in the AIF; his wife had just become pregnant at this time (although it is unlikely either knew) and their daughter Aileen was born in December. She never met her father; he died when she was barely six months old.

Cyril embarked for England on 13 July 1916, on the Seeang Bee. He arrived in Plymouth on 9 September and was put into the 43rd Battalion, part of the 11th Brigade and the 3rd Division. The 3rd Division was being formed in England at the time and undergoing training on Salisbury Plain. On 11 November Cyril got into trouble for having an unclean rifle.

Cyril and his unit left England for France on 25 November 1916; his younger brother Rufus had recently arrived but it is unknown whether they met. In France, Cyril became ill with influenza in March 1917 but soon recovered and was back to active duty a week later.

The 43rd Battalion's first major engagement was the Battle of Messines in June 1917. It was not in the thick of the fighting and took relatively low casualties, losing 21 dead and 122 wounded for the period 2-12 June. Still, it must have been a confronting introduction to the reality of the war for Cyril. He would have been nearby when the famous mine was fired under the German positions on 7 June.

By early July, after a period of rest, the 43rd Battalion was back in the line near Messines. On 3 July 1917 Cyril was killed in action. How he died is not exactly clear. The 43rd Battalion's war diary records three soldiers killed that day, with two likely sources. A patrol into No Man's Land encountered a sizable enemy force and had to quickly retreat, while the battalion's front line was also heavily shelled by German artillery. Either of these may have been the cause of Cyril's death.

According to his Service Record he was buried near where he fell, but the area continued to be the site of heavy fighting. After the war, his body could not be located for reburial, and so he is commemorated today on the Menin Gate among tens of thousands of others.

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