Joseph THOMAS
Rank: Private
Number: 41840
Unit: 12th Battalion NORFOLK REGIMENT
Date of Death: 1 September 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Joseph’s parents, William and Margaret, both worked at a cotton mill – he as a jobber and she in the card room. Joseph and his younger sister, Florence, were born in Heaton Norris where the family was living, in 1901, at 93 Love Lane.

Nothing is known of his early life until he enlisted into the army at Stockport. He originally joined the Cheshire Regiment and was given the service number 30687. This dates his enlistment to around the beginning of 1916. He served abroad with the Cheshires but, sometime later, he was transferred to the Bedfordshire Regiment. His service number became 240786, dating the transfer to after the beginning of 1917 and he was assigned to the 11th Battalion. This was a home service unit, suggesting that he may have been injured and evacuated home for some time for lighter duties.

A final transfer brought him to the Norfolk Regiment. The 12th Battalion had been formed in Egypt only in 1917 from former members of the Norfolk Yeomanry – a territorial cavalry unit. It transferred to the Western Front in June 1918 and this is probably when Joseph joined to help bring the Battalion up to full strength.

The Battalion’s War Diary, held at the National Archives, contains scant details of the period in late August to early September 1918. There are no records of casualties and it is now not possible to know when Joseph received the wounds from which he would die shortly a little time later. It is known that he was not killed outright and must have in the process of being evacauated to a field hospital when he died. His grave at New Irish Farm was not his original place of burial as the Cemetery was not created until after the Armistice. It is, however, quite close to where the front line will have been in the late summer of that year. It is possible to speculate, therefore, that Joseph had been wounded, probably by enemy shellfire, on the day he died or the day before. He will have been treated by the Battalion’s own medical officer at the Regimental Aid Post just behind the front line and either died there or some time shortly after leaving on his way to hospital.

   
           
   
     
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