Joseph STOKES
Rank: Private
Number: 12833
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 3 July 1916
Age: 38
Cemetery: Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, France

Joseph's birth was registered in the Stockport area between July and September 1878. When the national census was taken in 1901, he was married to 27 year old Elizabeth and was living at  14 Freemantle Street, Stockport. Six months before, Elizabeth had given birth to a son, who they called Joseph.

He enlisted into the army in August 1914, within days of war being declared, leaving his work as a "gossamer helmet maker". And although he had joined only for the duration of the War, he was assigned to one of the two regular army battalions of the King's Own. After training, he went to France on 16 January 1915, being among the first drafts of replacements for casualties of the early months of fighting. He joined No. 9 Section, 11Platoon in "C" Company.

On 1 July 1916, Joseph and his mates took part in the attack that would later become known as the first day of the Battle of the Somme. They advanced towards positions between the villages of Serre and Beaumont-Hamel. The King's Own was not one of the leading Battalions that had "gone over the top" at 7.30 am. It was intended that after these units had captured the German front line, the second wave would capture positions deeper into the German trench system.

They advanced at 8.45am, immediately coming under heavy machine gun fire. A large number of casualties were suffered even before the troops had reached the British front line. Many casualties were suffered crossing No Man's Land from shell and machine gun fire and very few troops even reached the German line. Those that did make it had insufficient numbers to press home the attack and, by about 12.30pm, they were strongly counter attacked and had to fall back to the original British front line.

The next day, the remnants of the Battalion, only about 120 strong (from the 900 who had attacked), were relieved to support trenches at "Elles Square". On the 3rd, the Battalion's war diary records that they were heavily shelled and lost "only 7 casualties", one of whom was Joseph.

News of his death will have quickly reached Elizabeth who was now living at 27 Pitt Street, Edgeley.

   
           
   
     
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