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RICS 150

10 NOV. 2015

Remembering Percy Haggis, the first RICS casualty of World War One

Cathy Linacre RICS

Cathy Linacre

Head of Reference Services

London, UK

RICS

Percy Haggis was the first member of the Surveyors' Institution to be killed in World War One. He died on 10 October 1914 at Moerbeke. The transactions note that he was a prisoner of war who was shot while trying to escape. He was 24 years old.

Before the war Percy had worked for the London County Council in the architecture department and was a professional associate of the Institution. The 1911 census found him living at home with his parents, Henry and Arabella, and his younger brother Ernest in Esher, Surrey. He was listed as a 'minor clerk'. His younger brother also worked for the London County Council and his father was a civil servant at the Admiralty.

In the Surveyors' Institution Transactions roll of honour he is listed as a Leading Seaman in the Collingwood Royal Naval Division (RND). The RND was formed early on in the war when it was seen that there was a large surplus of mobilised manpower in the Navy. These men formed a light infantry regiment which was sent to Belgium and took part in the Siege of Antwerp.

Following the defeat at Antwerp a number of the divisions retreated towards neutral Holland. however en route they were surrounded by the Germans and surrendered. The RND Casualties of The Great War records on the Ancestry website include a section from the diary of William Reid who was a fellow prisoner of war records.

After searching & counting us, we were marched to a church at a place called Eairs (from Moerbeke). Whilst on the march six men had the misfortune to be shot through one trying to escape.

William Reid

It is believed that Percy was one of these men as he was listed as missing at about this time. He is believed to be buried in the Eksaarde (Exaerde) Communal Cemetery where a special memorial marks the grave of five unknown British Soldiers and one unknown Belgian killed in this incident. 

The memorial for the Royal Naval Division (pictured) is a short distance from RICS HQ on Horse Guards’ Parade.

Find out more about the history of our surveyors

Our Head of Reference Services, Cathy Linacre, has compiled a Roll of Honour of the men who died during the First World War including their membership status and employment before the war, their rank and regiment during the war and when and where they died and are buried.

If you would like to find out more, or have any queries on similar matters, get in contact with Cathy.

Get in touch

Cathy Linacre RICS

Cathy Linacre

Head of Reference Services

London, UK

RICS

Cathy is the Head of Reference Services at the RICS which encompasses the library service and London Bookshop. The library acts as the archive as well as delivering  online resources to members to enable then to access information 24/7 wherever they are in the world.

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