Private Beard originated from Handforth, Cheshire. After the war, his parents, J & Alice Beard, had moved to 11 Joseph Street, Denton, Manchester.
Joseph enlisted at Chester. The German offensive, which would become known as the Battle of the Lys, opened on 9 April 1918. There had been little indication of a possible attack and Joseph’s Battalion was in Brigade reserve. Late in the day, it had become clear that this was a major offensive and the Battalion was ordered forward to take up positions at Nieppe, near to the French/Belgium border. They were in position by 2pm on the following day. Throughout the day, the battalion found itself under serious attack.
Around dawn on 11th April, the Germans broke through the British front line, just to the north of the Cheshires and it was forced to withdraw. As it did so, the men came under machine gun fire which caused many casualties until the gun was captured by troops of the Border Regiment. In spite of the difficulties, the withdrawal was carried out in an orderly way. The fighting over the next 24 hours was particularly heavy and, by late afternoon, the 9th Cheshires were withdrawn for a short rest.
On 15th April, the Battalion moved back into the front line, taking over defences at Kemmel near Ypres (now Ieper). Their line was heavily shelled over the next two days. It is likely that this is when Joseph will have been wounded. He will have been evacuated from the trenches and taken to a casualty clearing station, but, presumably, his wounds were too severe for anything to be done to save him. He is buried in the adjacent cemetery.
He is probably the J Beard commemorated on the Denton War Memorial.
(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)