Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:26 PM
Some Forum members will have known of Andrew Rigby - perhaps not a 'veteran' in the usual sense of the word, but one of the 'younger' men who had seen service during the Great War. Andrew died on June 9th, after a short illness, and a very long and fascinating life, and this is from the front page of today's Lancing Herald:
Final Farewell to Lancing’s Amazing Man, 105
He met four Popes and served in both world wars – but Lancing’s oldest resident, Andrew Rigby, has lost his fight for life at the age of 105.
Mr Rigby, who claimed to be the oldest bachelor in Lancing died in Worthing Hospital on June 9 after developing breathing problems.
The world was a different place when Mr Rigby was born in 1900. Queen Victoria was on the throne and the Boer War was dominating the newspaper headlines. He served in both world wars and joined the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1914, when he was aged just 14. But he was thrown out of the Army six months later when officials discovered how young he really was.
He then trained as a monk, joining first the Holy Jesuit Fathers before transferring to the Pere Blanc [White Fathers] order. The fathers taught him seven different languages and he spent the inter-war period travelling across Europe, translating religious artefacts.
When the Second World War broke out, Mr Rigby was part of an elite group of monks recruited by the British government because of their linguistic skills. He worked in naval intelligence during the war while some of the others worked in the Army and in the RAF. When the war was over he went back to the Pere Blanc order but was given special dispensation by Pope John Paul in 1974 to leave holy orders and retire. He was also awarded two silver Vatican medals.
Mr Rigby then moved to Lancing and regularly spoke all his languages and did work as a police interpreter. He lived at Seaview Court in Brighton Road up until his death. He featured in the Lancing Herald each year on his birthday.
His carer and fellow resident, Helen Fletcher said: “Andrew will be sadly missed by all who knew him, especially the residents at Seaview Court. He was a marvellous man and had led a really interesting life.”
A funeral service will be held at The Holy Family Church, tomorrow (Friday) at 11am, followed by burial at Lancing and Sompting Cemetery.
He will be sadly missed in the town.