Remembrance Day 2020 : a piece of Briggs history

-Newsletter October 2020 -

As a special piece with the run up to Remembrance Day, we have a number of promotions in store. However this year we wanted to share something more personal to us here at Briggs.

As many of you know Briggs is a family run business. So we thought it would be a nice touch to share a biography of ‘Uncle Bert Briggs’ whom was assumed to join the family business, had he not sadly died of a tropical disease he caught whilst serving the country.

We’ve put together a short biography and we’d love for you to read more or our family history, and read about members of the Briggs family in military service.

Thomas Herbert Briggs was born in early 1916 to John Gorrill (Jack) and Isabella Sophia (Belle), nee Hall. He was the second child of three and their only son. He was named Thomas after his paternal grandfather and Herbert after Belle’s sister Annie’s husband, who had been recently killed in action in France.

Bert Briggs (left) Jack Briggs (right) 

He was born in Stricklandgate, Kendal where his parents had their shoe retailing and mending business and would have been educated at Kendal Green School up to the age of 14.

It was always assumed that he would, in the fullness of time, join the family business and so his father taught him how to mend shoes (an important source of income) while Belle ran the shop with just one assistant.

Jack was an accomplished pianist and had, pre 1st World War, played in small dance bands providing the music for many balls and parties at the local grand estates. Bert also enjoyed playing the violin and trumpet and, as he grew up, played in the local dance bands.

In 1939 he was called up and, by early December, was in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He was in the 4th Battalion of the Border Regiment who were not evacuated at Dunkirk but carried on to fight a rearguard action until forced to evacuate, very riskily, via Cherbourg.

Following this, he was stationed in England, during which time he married his sweetheart, Connie. He was then posted to India in order to fight the Japanese in Burma.

Sadly, he died, aged 29, of a tropical disease in Rangoon Military Hospital on 17th August 1945, just after peace had been declared.

He is buried in Grave 1, Plot 1, Row A , Rangoon War Cemetery.

His elder sister, Bessie, and her husband Leslie Earl, took over the business in 1946 from Bert’s exhausted and grieving parents. Bessie’s younger sister, Jean, stayed at home and cared for Jack and Belle until Belle’s death aged 92 in 1972.

In 1967, their daughter, Mary and her husband, Ian Powney, took over following Leslie’s sudden death.

Their elder son, Tom, took over in the 1990s when Ian’s health declined and Tom’s younger son, Luke has now joined the family firm.

Luke’s older brother, Daniel is the latest member of the family to serve in the Armed Forces, currently as a Midshipman aboard HMS Northumberland in the Baltic Sea.

Midshipman Daniel Powney