Rachamim Siegmund Liggi

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Reginald Liggi

A splendid specimen of English manhood, 6 foot high, teetotaller and from his earliest boyhood on he wished to enter the army.
Mother, Regina Liggi, Palestine

Rachamim, known as Reginald or Rex, was born into a Jewish family in 1894 and lived his early life in London. Prior to World War 1 he trained as a mechanic. His boyhood dream was to join the army and he enlisted for the Royal Horse Artillery Regiment in the United Kingdom. His parents refused to support his decision and he left and migrated to Western Australia.

Little is known of his life in Perth but his mother described him as a ‘signalling instructor.’ Legge himself described his ‘trade or calling’ as theatrical manager when, in late 1914 he enlisted in the AIF. He joined the 10th Light Horse and left for Egypt on the Mashobra on 8 February 1915.

Reginald’s enlistment papers are interesting and raise some questions! He enlisted under the name of Reginald Legge. Choosing an anglicised name can probably be understood in terms of life in the army but why did a 20 year old youth claim he was 23 years and 10 months? In addition he nominated his faith as Church of England rather than Jewish.

Legge trained in Egypt and was a Signals Sergeant when he was shot through the head at Rafa on the Egypt-Palestine border on 9 January 1917. Legge was evacuated but died of his wounds at El Arish on 18 January 1917 at the age of 23 years.

Legge was buried and is remembered in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery.

His story does not finish with his death. His mother Regina Liggi wrote to Australian Military authorities in early 1919 from Palestine. She pointed out that her son Reginald Liggi had enlisted for the 10th Light Horse under the name of Reginald Legge. Formal investigation of letters, photos and identity discs convinced authorities that Reginald Legge was indeed the son of Mrs Regina Liggi and Mr M Liggi.

Regina Liggi visited her son’s grave in March 1919 and then wrote to the Director of Cemeteries asking him to oblige a ‘broken-hearted invalid mother.’ She discovered that as well as using the name Legge instead of her son’s name Liggi, a cross had been placed on the grave instead of the Star of David. She wrote to authorities, commenting that her second son Alex had also made the supreme sacrifice.

They were my only children, May God rest their dear souls.’
Her wish was granted.

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