Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Joshua Lewis

Joshua Lewis :

Joshua Lewis : (L to R) Military Medal; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) Military Medal; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

We don't know anything about Joshua's early life or family.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and we believe Joshua joined the Army at some point between August 1916 and January 1917. He enlisted in the 5th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was originally a unit in the Territorial Force, based in Wigan, but most of the soldiers joining it now were conscripts. Under conscription it was not unusual for soldiers to be assigned to units with no connection to their local area.

Joshua was assigned to the second 5th Battalion (2/5th). This unit had been formed from new recruits after the original 5th Battalion was sent overseas in 1914. It was sent to France in February 1917. The next month soldiers serving in Territorial Force units were given new service numbers. The 5th Battalion was allocated the range 200001 to 250000. Joshua was given 202942. We don't know his original number.

We know very little about what Joshua did in France and Belgium. He served around Givenchy and La Bassee during his first few months on the Western Front. At some point between April and early June Joshua carried out an act of great bravery. He was awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette of the 18th July. Unfortunately there was no citation with the award, so we don't know exactly what Joshua did or where he did it.

Between June and late September the 2/5th Battalion was stationed at Nieuwpoort on the Belgian coast. They then moved to the area around Ypres (now called Ieper). On the 9th October they took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle. This attack began well, with the British advancing to their objectives, but it soon slowed to a halt. Heavy rain over the previous few days had turned the rear areas and the battlefield into swamps, which exhausted the soldiers as they tried to move forwards. They were also under artillery and machine gun fire from the German defenders, which inflicted heavy casualties. The attack was called off and the British returned to their positions.

After this attack the 2/5th Battalion was kept in quiet areas until March 1918. On the 21st the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. This inflicted heavy casualties on the battalion, meaning it could not continue. It was reduced to a small unit, known as a cadre, in April 1918 and then disbanded completely in July. This means Joshua must have served in another unit, but we don't know which one. By the end of the war in November 1918 he had reached the rank of Sergeant.

Joshua's life after the war remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1997.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Army Museums Ogilby Trust logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council