Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Joseph Verity

Joseph Verity :

Joseph Verity : (L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Joseph was born on the 19th December 1873 in Salford, Lancashire. He was baptised at Christ Church on the 15th February 1874. His father was called Robert and his mother was Elizabeth. He had an older brother called William and 4 younger brothers called Robert, Arthur, John Henry and Albert. The family were members of the Church of England.

When Joseph was born Robert worked as an iron planer and the family lived at 4 Wood's Place off Peel Street in Pendleton, Salford. By 1881 they had moved to 7 Peel Street. Robert was now a labourer for a coppersmith.

Elizabeth died between January and March 1888. She was 36. A year later, Robert married Ann Thomas. They lived at 6 Edgod Street in 1891, but Joseph was not with them. He was lodging with the Stansfield family at 26 Hampson Street. He worked as an apprentice iron dresser.

At some point Joseph joined the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia so he kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier for a short period every year. We don't know how long Joseph spent in the Militia, but it must have been long enough to convince him that Army life suited him. He joined the Regular Army on the 28th August 1893.

Joseph joined the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 3984. He was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 128 pounds when he enlisted. He had a 'fresh' complexion, blue eyes and fair hair.

After 2 months of training at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne, Joseph joined the 1st Battalion in Kinsale in County Cork in Ireland. They moved to Preston in Lancashire in November 1894 and to Aldershot in Hampshire a year later. At this time Joseph was a member of B Company.

Joseph was granted an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay on the 28th August 1895. Four months later he became a Drummer. After 10 months with this job he reverted to Private on the 20th October 1896.

The 1st Battalion was to be sent to Gibraltar in November 1897, but Joseph would not go with them. He was posted to the Depot on the 19th August. He became a Drummer again on the 12th April 1898 and kept this job until he left the Depot on the 28th November 1899.

The Boer War began in South Africa on the 11th October. By the time Joseph left the Depot the 1st Battalion was already under siege in Ladysmith. This was one of a number of stunning defeats that made the British decide to send as many soldiers as they could to the country.

Joseph joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 15th January 1900. That March the battalion was ordered to set sail for South Africa. They left the UK on the 16th March. At this time Joseph was a member of Number 4 Section in F Company. He was a 2nd Class Shot with his Lee-Enfield Rifle.

When they arrived in South Africa Joseph and the 2nd Battalion took part in the fighting around Wittebergen in July. They spent most of the rest of the war taking part in long patrols intended to find and pin down the Boers, who fought in small groups as guerrillas.

Joseph was either wounded or fell ill in mid 1901. He had to be invalided back to the UK on the 5th June. Once he was well enough to return to duty he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Aldershot. On the 7th August he requested to revert to the rank of Private. His Good Conduct Pay was increased to 2d per day on the 13th January 1902.

The Boer War ended on the 31st May that year. Joseph was demobilised and transferred to the Army Reserve on the 12th July. He had originally enlisted for 7 years as a Regular soldier to be followed by 5 in the Reserve. He had been kept as a Regular longer because of the war, so his Reserve service would be reduced to match. As a Reservist Joseph could find a home and a job, but could be called back to the Army in an emergency. None arose and he left the Army on the 27th August 1905.

We don't know anything about Joseph's life as a Reservist or civilian until the 1911 Census was taken in early April. At this time he was working as an insurance agent for the Pearl Life Assurance Company. He was a boarder with John Reay, his wife Sarah and daughter Ethel at 13 Langshaw Street in Pendleton.

Towards the end of this year, or possibly in early 1912, Joseph joined the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based on Burlington Street in Manchester. He kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends, as well as taking part in an annual training camp lasting around 2 weeks. His service number was 1413.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 the 7th Battalion was called up for full time service. They were sent overseas on the 10th September and arrived in Egypt on the 25th.

Half of B Company did not land in Egypt and were sent to Cyprus; the rest of the battalion sailed down the Suez Canal to Khartoum in Sudan. The battalion was based here until April 1915. They had a number of jobs, mainly based around guarding important points such as the Governor-General's Palace and railway lines.

In April the renamed 1/7th Battalion returned to Egypt and joined their comrades preparing for the invasion of Gallipoli. They landed on this Turkish territory on the 7th May.

We don't know for sure whether Joseph went to Sudan or Cyprus. He had definitely joined the battalion by the time they went to war in Gallipoli. Within days they were in the front line and taking casualties from the Turkish defenders.

The battalion's first major operation began on the 4th June. This was an attack on the village of Krithia. It had been intended to be captured during late April when the first Allied troops landed, but the Turks had been able to hold them off.

Joseph and the 1/7th Battalion advanced further than most British units, but this meant when the Turks counter attacked they were cut off and forced to withdraw without capturing the village. They then had to endure Turkish attacks over the next 3 days.

By the end of the first day of fighting around 115 members of the battalion were dead and hundreds more had been wounded. Joseph was one of the men killed on the 4th June. He was 41 years old.

Shortly after the end of the war the National Publishing Company began an attempt to print a roll covering every man who had served in the First World War. They invited veterans or their families to send a short account of his or her service, for a fee. Not all veterans took up this offer, and the details they included were not checked for accuracy. Joseph's family sent this biography to the Company. It was published in Section XIV, Salford, of the National Roll of the Great War:

Verity, J., L/Corpl., Manchester Regiment

Mobilised at the declaration of war, he embarked for the Dardanelles in 1915, and, after taking part in the Landing at Cape Helles, was unfortunately killed in action at Krithia on June 4th of that year. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.

'He nobly fell that we might live.'

27 Ash Street, Seedley

Both John and either Arthur or Albert also served in the army during the First World War. A. E. Verity served in the UK with the Cheshire Regiment. 'In consequence of medical unfitness, he was unable to secure his transfer to a theatre of war'.

We believe John had served in the Army before the First World War. He then moved to Vancouver in Canada. On the 11th February 1915 he joined the 29th Battalion (Vancouver) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was given the service number 76339. He sailed to France with them, but was killed on the 18th April 1916, aged 33. He is buried in Voormezeele Enclosures, near Ypres in Belgium.

Unlike his brother, Joseph's body was never found. He is now one of the 20885 men commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. Joseph's name can be found between Panel 158 and 170.

Joseph's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 2009. He was also awarded the 'South Africa 1901' clasp to his Queen's South Africa Medal.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council