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Private 2860, 24th Battlaion Royal Fusiliers.

Killed in action 28th January 1916, age 24.

Buried in Brown’s Road Military Cemetery, Festubert, France.

Former student of engineering.

herford-unimag


 

Siegfried was born on July 29th 1891 at Aberyswyth. His father was Professor Charles Harold Herford, Professor of English Literature at Victoria Univesrity 1901 – 1921. The only son of Prof. Herford and his wife Marie Catherine, Siegfried was educated at Ladybarn House School, Fallowfield, at Boxgrove, Guildford and spent three years at Manchester Grammar School. In 1908 he attended a school in Bieberstein, South Germany before entering Manchester University in 1909 to study engineering. He graduated in 1912 with a First Class Honours B.Sc.

Siegfried carried out some research at the University and then went to the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnbourough, to work on problems in aeroplane engine design on which he based a thesis for his M.Sc. in 1914. It was recommended that autumn that he be awarded his M.Sc. , but he was abroad because of the war at the time and as a result it was never conferred.

Siegfried was very fond of mountaineering and spent much of his leisure time in this pursuit. In 1907, aged just 16, he spent a number of weeks in the highlands of South Bavaria climbing one of the lesser peaks of the Gross Gloekuer group. In 1908 he was part of a small party of school children on a trip to Iceland scrambling the crags and glaciers with no guide. In 1910 he made his first long climb, a solo ascent of the complex and dangerous Great Gully of Craig-yr-Ysfa. During easter 1911 he climbed many other Welsh mountains. 1912 saw him spend over 100 days of the year climbing including in the Lake District, around the Dolomites, and on the Isle of Skye. In 1913 he published an article entitled “The Doctrine of the Ascent”. In 1914 he climbed the central buttress of Scafell and spent time in the Alps. Siegfried enjoyed seeking new routes and climbs and was often the one to lead others up them. During their adventures those that accompanied Siegfried had not only the mountains to contend with but travel arrangements going wrong, food provisions being lost, bad weather and illness. Unperturbed Siegfried loved the adventure and many admired and respected his charm, independence, confidence, skill, endurance, resourcefulness, comradeship and leadership – all of which were to be valuable to him in the trenches and would endear him to the men with whom he served.

From October 1909 to September 1913 Siegfried was a member of the Officer Training Corps and applied for a commission on the outbreak of war. While he awaited a decision he went to work as an assistant to his climbing friend Geoffrey Winthorp Young, a correspondant of the “Daily News”, in France. In November 1914 he became a chauffeur in the Red Cross in Belgium.

Having not been granted a commission Siegfried enlisted in the 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (known as the Sportsmen’s Battalion) in February 1915 and embarked for France shortly after. He was killed a little under a year later on 28th January 1916 by a rifle grenade while holding an exposed part of the line near Bethune in France.

In a letter to Siegfried’s parents one correspondent wrote: “Among us all he was not only very popular, but respected too, and we all feel his loss sorely. On the march he never tired, and on innumerable occasions, at the end of a trying march, Herford was to be seen cheerfully striding along carrying another man’s rifle in addition to his own. On our first visit to the trenches I sprained my ankle rather badly , and though we were in the open and under fire, it was your splendid son who not only took my equipment, but gave me a shoulder to the field dressing station”.

Young described him as “A magnificent climber, of a serene beauty of temperament and physique, as a companion I already knew him to possess the four gifts – reliability, judgement, appreciativeness and reticence” and in an obituary proclaimed him to be “the greatest rock climber England has yet produced” who was also “the truest, kindest, and most generous of friends, our idol and our pride” and Young confessed “much of my own joy in the hills has died with him”.

Siegfried’s headstone carries the words “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help”.