Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 7581
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Nothing is known about Joseph, other than military records published after the War indicate he had been born in the Stockport area and enlisted in the town. His service number suggests that he was probably either a prewar regular soldier or an  ex-regular recalled to the colours when War was declared.

Nearly three years on, Joseph will have counted himself lucky to have survived so far. Many of the “Old Contemptibles” were dead or invalided home. But his luck was about to run out.

The “big push” of 1917 was to be third major battle fought around the Belgian town of Ypres and would unofficially later become known as the Battle of Passchendaele. In the Staffordshires’ sector, the troops of 24th Division would advance to form a defensive flank protecting the other troops carrying out the direct attack. They occupied their assembly trenches on the evening of 30 July and were shelled for several hours before “going over the top” at 3.50 the next morning. Exactly on schedule, the British artillery opened a barrage which rolled across No Man’s Land, keeping down the heads of the enemy machine gunners, and so protecting the Staffordshires who kept close behind the barrage. As they reached a small stream, the Bassevillebeek, near Dumbarton Wood, they came under enfilade fire from the Wood on the left and a German position known as Lower Star Post on the right. They were forced to withdraw to near Bodmin Copse, still a few hundred yards short of the first objective. 45 had been killed and a further 21 were still missing at the end of the day and were also presumed to be dead.

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