Photograph of Joseph in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: Acc3417
(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Joseph was born on the 8th September 1897 in Birkenhead, Cheshire. He was named after his father and his mother was called Agnes. He had 2 older sisters: Ellen and Agnes, and 4 younger: Lilian, Daisy, Emily and William. Lilian died before her 1st birthday, and the family had lost one other child by 1911.
Joseph senior was a fireman (responsible for fuelling the engines) on a steamship. We don't know who he worked for in 1901. The family lived in the Cleveland area of Birkenhead.
By 1911 they had moved to 13 Tyrer Street in Bidston, Birkenhead. Joseph senior now worked as a shore donkeyman, which is a term used for an engineer aboard a merchant ship. He was employed by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, although 'shore' suggests he no longer went to sea. Joseph junior was working as a milk boy.
The First World War broke out in August 1914. Joseph enlisted on the 10th December 1915. We believe he joined the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, based in Ashton-under-Lyne. We don't know whether he volunteered for this unit, or whether he was sent to join it by the Army.
Joseph was certainly serving in the 9th Battalion by March 1917. Around this month members of Territorial Force units were given new service numbers. The 9th Battalion was assigned the range 350001 to 375000. Joseph's new number was 352356.
We don't know anything about Joseph's wartime service. He could have served in the 1/9th Battalion or the 2/9th Battalion. Both arrived in France in March 1917, and were merged together in February 1918. They fought the German Spring Offensive in March and April, and then took part in the Hundred Days Offensive that brought the war to an end on the 11th November 1918.
Joseph had served overseas for at least 24 months by the end of the war. We know this because he was awarded 2 'Blue' Overseas Service Chevrons. Each of these represented 12 months overseas.
On the 22nd March 1919 Joseph was transferred to the Reserve. This was most likely the Class Z Reserve, which meant he could be called back to the Army if fighting had broken out again. It never did and the Class Z Reserve was disbanded in March 1920.
We don't know what Joseph did for the rest of his life. He died in Birkenhead, by then part of Merseyside, between January and March 1979. He was 81 years old. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in May 2008.