Joseph Edward TOREVELL
Rank: Private
Number: 9964
Unit: 56th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 26
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

It is possible that Joseph never lived in Stockport. His birth was registered in Blackburn in the June quarter of 1891 and regimental records, published after the War, indicate he was living in Oswaldtwistle when he enlisted into the army, originally joining the East Lancashire Regiment (service number 18015).

Family history websites, FreeBMD and CheshireBMD, have no records of anyone called Torevell having a connection with the town prior to 1912. Joseph was certainly in the town, at least briefly, in that year as he married Jane Deakin at Christ Church, Heaton Norris. From that date, the records show a regular progression of births, marriages and deaths of people with that surname. It certainly indicates that, even if Joseph was not living in the town, other member so his family were. And, of course, he may have met Jane when visiting family. Jane did originate from the town and had been born there also in 1891. After the War, she returned to Stockport where, in 1928 she married Harry Webb.

Joseph's original unit may have been the 7th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment which was part of the Army's 56th Brigade along with the Machine Gun Company with which he was serving when he was killed. At some point, he was transferred to the MGC.

Companies of the Corps operated 16 heavy Vickers guns, each with a seven man crew. Their role during offensive operations was to support the attacking infantry battalions. Some teams would accompany the infantry to give close support. Others would remain in the British trench line, firing a barrage over the heads of the attackers and onto the German trenches, preventing them from manning their own guns. The latter teams would soon become targets for enemy artillery.

Joseph was killed on the first day of the fighting that was later officially called the Third Battle of Ypres, but known to many simply as Passchendaele. The infantry battalions attacked at "zero hour", 3.50am. In Joseph's sector, these included his old comrades in the 7th East Lancashires. By 4.10, all the objectives had been captured. The Company's War Diary entry is limited to a couple of sentences which barley describe the day. It does, however, note that three of the four guns of No. 4 section were knocked out. As these were all together, they were probably part of the barrage guns and had been knocked out by shellfire. Joseph was one of four men from the Company to be killed. He has no known grave.

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