Rank: Private
Number: 92252
Unit: 11th Battalion SHERWOOD FORESTERS
Date of Death: 16 September 1917
Age: 21
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Joel Hambleton and Harriett Ann Hampson married in 1883 at All Saints Church, Gorton. Their three children, however, were all born in Romiley. Sarah was born in 1884 and Mary in 1888. However, he would never get to see his son or, possibly, even know Harriett was pregnant. He died aged 59, in the first three months of 1898, and Joel was not born until the last three. The couple had run a local pub but Harriett had not continued with this trade after Joel's death and is described on the 1901 Census as a being a "retired publican". The family was then living at 3 Greave Fold, Romiley.

Shortly after, they moved to Woodley and were living at York Villa at the time of the War (and later at 262 Hyde Road). The family worshipped at St Mark's Church and Joel had furthered his education by attending its Sunday School. After he left school, he went to work for John W Bagshaw who owned the nearby Ranch farm and was a cattle dealer. Joel was learning the business from him.

He travelled to Woolwich in London to enlist and must have gone there with the specific intent of joining the Army Service Corps. It was one of the Corps' base depots for its Horse Transport Companies. His service number, 2351813, indicates this was not early in the war. He never served overseas with the Corps and was transferred to the Sherwoods before going on active service.

Joel and his mates spent the first two weeks of September 1917 in reserve billets where they undertook various training exercises. On the 13th, they started to move forward towards the front line where, on the evening of 15/16th, they took over a sector astride the Menin Road, just outside the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper). They were heavily shelled as they were doing so and the Battalion's War Diary records that casualties "were very heavy". Joel's pal, Arthur Grundy, later wrote saying that Joel had been wounded in the stomach and never regained consciousness.

It is, however, a truism that one should never believe what you read in the newspapers. Grundy's account was published locally and he is reported to have written that whilst Joel had been wounded on the 15th, he did not die until the 22nd. In fact, the lack of a known grave confirms that Joel will have died very quickly and been buried near the front line. Perhaps the grave marker was lost or the grave was destroyed by shellfire in the later fighting. Grundy also wrote that the same shell had killed an officer called Johnson - the son of Mr C F Johnson, a Stockport solicitor. In fact Cyril Johnson was not killed until the 21st of the month, whilst serving with a different Battalion of the Foresters, and is buried in France, miles away from where Joel was killed.

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