BORN – Oswestry
HOMEFRONT – Place / Occupation / St Oswald’s Church / Holy Trinity Church
JOB – Porter
UNIT – 12 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own).
RANK – Sergeant 12399
THEATRE – Ypres / Locre. 12 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own). 4 May 1916.
DIED – KIA 4 May 1916. Aged 20
BURIED – La Laiterie Cemetery. (CWGC)
BORN – Oswestry
Joseph William Davies was born in 1896 in Oswestry, the eldest child of Susannah who was married to John Davies, a brewer’s labourer. The couple were living at 7 Ffynnon Terrace and by 1901 a brother, John, and sister, Susannah had been born. Maggie, the youngest child was to be born in 1908. Susannah’s father, Thomas Hughes, originally from Llanfechain, was also living with them. He is described as a tailor.
By 1911 the family had moved to 9 Ffynnon Terrace and Joseph is now listed as Joseph Hughes, employed as a cabinet maker’s porter. The name change is not explained but it is likely that John Davies was not Joseph’s biological father. This is supported by details in the 1911 Census that the marriage ‘had completed 14 years’ and Joseph was now 15. It also said that the marriage had produced three children even though there there were clearly four siblings in the family.
It is not known what took Joseph to Yorkshire where he enlisted in West Yorkshire Regiment at York in the 13 Bn – the Reserves battalion. Joseph arrived in France on the 7 October 1915 and joined the 12 Bn at Boare near Hazebrouck about four days later.
The 12 Bn A service, or “Pals” battalion, was first raised at York in September 1914 and, along with the 7 Bn K.S.L.I. was in the 3rd Division – the 9th Brigade and the 8th (the K.S.L.I.). Both battalions had arrived in France during September 1915. The West Yorks. were ordered immediately into the line as reserves during the Battle of Loos. The battalion suffered heavy casualties.
The battalion then served in and around Ypres for the rest of the year and into 1916. Joseph was killed in action on May 4 1916 in the front line at Locre. He was 20 years old and one of the battalion’s four men killed that day. The War Diary recorded that it was a “fairly quiet” period. To have been promoted Sergeant at his comparatively young age would indicate that Joseph must have been a competent and responsible soldier.
He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Star. He left ten guineas to his mother, Susannah, his sole heir.