Joshua LESTER
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 701272
Unit: 19th Battalion (Central Ontario Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Date of Death: 2 March 1918
Age: 40
Cemetery: Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France

Joshua was born in the Stockport area on 17 January 1878. He was named after his father. In 1901, when the Census was taken, Joshua, senior, was living in Shawcross Street, in the Hempshaw Lane area of town, with his wife, Ann, who was mother to their five children. At home were Nancy (25), Arthur (17), Edith (13) and Lily (10).

The younger Joshua had got married the year before to Edna Brown at St Mary's Church in the town centre. They were living at 35 George Street West. Joshua was a blacksmith's striker, whilst Edna worked as a winder in a cotton mill.

At some point, Joshua and Edna decided to make a new life for themselves and emigrated to Canada, where Joshua earned a living as a boilermaker. In 1916, they were living at 321 Lock Street, Heston, Manitoba. On 27 April 1916, he was in nearby Winnipeg to enlist into the army. His attestation papers, which can be viewed on-line at the Canadian National Archives, show he must have been quite a striking figure. Standing nearly six feet tall (at a time when average heights were much shorter that today) and with a 39 inch chest, he had a fair complexion with dark hair and grey eyes. Joshua had recorded his religion as Church of England.

After training, he will have arrived on the Western Front towards the end of 1916 and, no doubt, seen major action during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in the latter months of 1917. On 27 February 1916, the 19th Battalion started a tour of duty in the front line trenches near the French town of Lens. Sometime over the following days, Joshua was seriously wounded and evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station (mobile hospital) at Barlin.

The Battalion's War Diary makes no references to casualties during these days, but it is likely that Joshua was mortally wounded on the day he died. That day, the Diary records that Allied artillery heavily shelled the German dug-outs and trench mortar emplacements opposite. The retaliation was light but there were bound to be some casualties in any shelling. Joshua would have received attention from the Battalion's Medical Officer before being evacuated the 15, or so, kilometres to Barlin. There, military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success. The Cemetery where Joshua is buried is an extension to the village graveyard and contains the graves of nearly 1200 soldiers.

In the early 1920s, Edna had moved to Fort Garry, Manitoba.

   
           
   
     
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