Joseph FLITCROFT
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 16023
Unit: 8th Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 24 July 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Joseph was born in Thornsett, Derbyshire, in about 1895. By 1901, his parents, Thomas and Mary, had moved to the Stockport area and the family was living in three-roomed accommodation at 18 Garnett Street. Thomas was then a 47-year old pavior's labourer and had married his much younger wife (then 29) in the early 1890s. As well as 6-year old Joseph, they had two daughters; Mary Ellen (8) and Edith (1).

The family later moved to South Reddish where, in 1914, they were living at 92 Weston Street. Joseph was working for the London and North Western Railway Company, as a labourer at Stockport Station (and was later commemorated on the Company's Roll of Honour). He enlisted into the army on 19 November 1914, going overseas on 27 September 1915 as part of a draft of replacements for casualties in the 8th Battalion.

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July 1916, but the men of the King's Own were many miles away on that day, in reserve. and were not brought forward to near the fighting area until about the 18th. Although Joseph will have spent time in the front line from shortly after arriving in France, it was not until this day that he was involved in any form of major action. On the 18th, the Battalion moved forward to support the front line at the village of Longueval in the south of the battlefield. They suffered heavy shelling that day and the next and had a total of 352 casualties, including 37 dead, 53 missing and the remainder wounded.

The Battalion spent the next few days in reserve near Carnoy but, on the day Joseph was killed, they were ordered forward to an original German trench, known as Montauban Alley, which had been captured on the 1st. There was an overcast sky but temperatures were about 70 Fahrenheit.

They were again to be in support of the front line battalions, as German troops had been spotted massing east of Guinchy and a counter-attack was anticipated. The Battalion War Diary records "Battalion was very heavily shelled all day. "A" Company sent to Delville Wood via Waterlot Farm as reinforcements. It had to pass through a hostile barrage west of Trones Wood and suffered heavily." The Battalion was relieved in the early hours of the next day. Joseph was one of 14 men to be killed during the day. The effects of artillery shelling would often be to, literally, blow men apart and there was probably nothing left of Joseph to bury. Certainly he has no known grave and is commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing.

   
           
   
     
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