Footballer, RAF gunner and ‘true hero’ from Newham dies

Ronald Valentine Higgins, pictured in his football kit during his youth

Ronald Valentine Higgins, pictured in his football kit during his youth - Credit: Archant

RAF gunner and footballer Ronald Valentine Higgins – so named because he was born on February 14 in 1923 – has died aged 92.

Ronald, front middle, played for West Ham boys' football club

Ronald, front middle, played for West Ham boys' football club - Credit: Ronnie Higgins

The Second World War veteran, who was part of the action on D-Day, was described by his family as being “part of the heart of Newham and just simply the best dad” following his death on January 23.

The great-grandad was born in Maplin Road, Custom House, and later moved to Lathom Road, East Ham, in 1952, with wife Isabella – who died in 2007 – where they had three children.

Son Ronnie, 66, said: “My dad loved his middle name – but I bet the kids took the mickey out of him when he was at school.”

A keen sportsman who “loved sport, competition and the outdoors”, Ronald played and trained with West Ham boys for several years, scoring five goals against Tottenham in a famous game in 1935 that finished 6-1.

Ronald, grandson Paul and son Ronnie, were referred to affectionately as the 'cockney dodos'

Ronald, grandson Paul and son Ronnie, were referred to affectionately as the 'cockney dodos' - Credit: Ronnie Higgins


You may also want to watch:


He joined Royal Docks firm Silley Weirs as an apprentice ships driller in 1939, working on the construction of Mulberry Harbours and Tank Landing Craft in the Victoria Docks, which played a vital role in the Normandy landings.

It was as an RAF gunner that he was to see the Mulberry Landings again during D-Day.

Most Read

Ronnie said: “He wasn’t so frightened of being shot down. He was more frightened of the planes crashing into each other.“

Ronald was signed by Leyton Orient FC in 1947 and had a spell at QPR before coaching East Ham United, taking the club to victory in the Woolwich Cup.

Ronnie said: “Dad was a true hero in many ways. In the RAF, in sport, at work but more than anything a true hero for his love and devotion to family”.

Ronald is survived by his son Ronnie and two daughters Jean and Geraldine.

A service will be held at City of London Traditional Crematorium at 11.15am on February 15.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter