Joseph DERBYSHIRE
Rank: Private
Number: 39428
Unit: 2nd Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 3 August 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Levi Derbyshire married Ellen Turner at St Mary's Church, Cheadle between April and June 1894. In 1901, they were living at 5 Ansley Grove, Heaton Norris. They had two children - Annie (then 6) and Joseph (2). Levi worked as a nurseryman.

Nothing is known of Joseph's early life . His service number is not an early one, suggesting that he was conscripted into the army when he became 18.

On 31 July, Joseph and his comrades had attacked on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (often called Passchendaele). The attack had not been a success.

The next day, they moved back to a support trench just behind the front line. This was just to the west of a position known as "Ziel House" near the Ypres-Roulers railway. On the 2nd, the Battalion's War Diary records "Still raining heavily. Battalion in same position endeavouring to "dig in" - a most difficult and almost impossible task owing to the awful state of ground and the harassing effect of the sustained hostile shelling. All ranks in a deplorable condition being sodden with rain and mud. Considerable difficulty in getting up rations and supplies, the state of the ground and the constant shelling rendered movement both difficult and hazardous."

The entry continues on the same day although past midnight "Shortly after midnight, a party of about 20 men were sheltering on the westerly side of the Battalion HQ dug-out, when a shell landed in the middle of them and killed the whole party."

The entry for 3 August reads "Still raining heavily. Battalion still in same position which by this time was damnable. Men in a deplorable condition, many of them up to their knees and waists in water and mud and quite unable to move about. Intermittent shelling by enemy. Casualties killed - Lt Castle and 14 Other Ranks".

Joseph was one of the 14. It is possible that Joseph had been literally blown to bits but if he was buried by his mates, then the location of his grave was either lost or destroyed in the following 15 months of fighting. His name is now inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing at Ieper.

   
           
   
     
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