Pigeon MC, John Walter

John Walter Pigeon was born in 1896, the only son of 5 children of eminent surgeon, and assistant surgeon to the Hull Royal Infirmary, Henry Walter Pigeon and his wife Elizabeth.
He initially attended Hymers College, but due to ill health his father transferred him to Sherbourne School in Dorset. He graduated at Cambridge University and qualified as a surgeon, and worked at St BartÂ’s Hospital in London.
His father Henry, had a surgery close to Hull Royal Infirmary at No 6 and later No 13 Albion St, which he maintained after his move to 116 Westbourne Avenue, Hull.
At the outbreak of WW1, John took a commission as a Lieutenant, with the Indian Medical Service, who were serving in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), where he was promoted to captain in 1917. He married Elsa Marie Nash in 1912, but did not have any children
The WWI campaign in Mesopotamia began as a small, Government of India operation to defend their frontiers and British oil interests in the Persian Gulf against the Ottoman Empire. However, as the Indian forces began to advance rapidly, the capture of ‘fabled’ Baghdad soon became its objective. The Turks fought back stoically to keep Iraq, the British & Indian Army losing over 20,000 troops and over 9,000 men were taken prisoner by the Turks, resulting in the British Army’s greatest humiliation of WWI.
After the armistice, the conflict continued in Mesopotamia for a few weeks, and the Iraqi’s began to despise the British more than their Turkish masters. In 1919 a group of Sunni & Shia forces formed ‘The Guardians of Independence’ group in an attempt to rid Iraq of the British. On 3 September 1920, there was heavy fighting around Samawah, and 4000 Arab rebels attacked an armoured British train after it had broken down at Samawah railway station, killing 42 British troops, including 2 officers. John W Pigeon was one of these officers. The RAF bombed the area and soon regained control of the area later that year. John was originally buried at the station, but was later exhumed and buried in Baghdad War Cemetery, Northgate. XVII.A. 1-29. He was aged 33 years.
His father commemorated his son on the headstone of his daughter EllenÂ’s grave in Hull General Cemetery. She had died of nephritis in 1906, aged 16. A few years after his sonÂ’s death his father and mother moved to Dorset where he died in 1935. The gravestone was removed in the 1970’s clear up, but the EYFHS recorded the monumental inscription, noting the mis-spelling of JohnÂ’s surname as ‘Pidgeon’.

First name:
Date Died
Place died:
Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq