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2nd Lt. Joseph Alfred Child
British Army Yorkshire Regiment 9th Battalion
(d.7th Jun 1917)
Joseph Child from Liversedge in Yorkshire, was an employee of the Leeds office of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, like many of his colleagues he answered Lord Kitchener’s call to arms and attested as a Private with the 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment on the 7th of August 1914. He is described as being 20 years old, five foot five and three quarters, weighing 114lbs with a 34 inch chest, fresh of complexion with blue eyes and blond hair.
Joseph, must have taken his duty seriously and diligently as he rose rapidly through the ranks, being promoted to Lance Corporal in October 1914, Corporal in early November and to Sergeant before the month was out. On Christmas Eve 1914, having already been promoted to Colour Sergeant, he was granted a Temporary Commission as 2nd Lieutenant and posted to the 9th Battalion. His Commission on the 2nd Jan 1917 was published in the list in the London Gazette on the 2nd Feb.
Joseph arrived in France on the 13th June 1915 with his battalion as part of the 23rd Division and went into the front line near Armentieres, a sector which was considered to be quiet, where they received training from the 27th Division. In early 1916 they were on Vimy Ridge and in the spring moved to Bomy to begin intensive training for the Battle of The Somme.
Although very little of Joseph’s service record survives, we can assume that he was with his battalion on the 1st of July when they captured Contalmaison and remained with them through the various phases of the famous battle.
Spring of 1917 saw Joseph’s battalion training for the next great offensive of the war, the Battle of Messines at this time he was attached to 69th Trench Mortar Battery, in the same brigade as the 9th Battalion and destined to fight alongside them. During the night of the 6th of June 1917 they moved into position near Battle Wood close to the Ypres-Warneton railway line. At 3.10am the following morning, the first attack of the Battle of Messines was launched with the detonation of 19 huge mines, which shattered the enemy defences. The 9th Battalion were in the second wave of the attack and moved forward at 6.50am into the area around Caterpillar Crater, though Joseph and his Trench Mortar men may well have joined the attack from the outset.
Joseph was killed that day and now lies at Bedford House Cemetery. This large cemetery contains over 5000 graves and is situated just south of Ypres. The enclosure in which Joseph lies, contains graves of those men brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields of the Ypres Salient in the 1920’s. From the list of cemeteries, which were concentrated into Bedford House, it is possible that Joseph may have been buried at the Asylum British Cemetery, in the grounds of the old Hospice du Sacre Coer (Sacred Heart Mental Hospital) which was just to the west of the railway station at Ypres. This may indicate that Joseph was injured in the action and evacuated to the Field Ambulance at Ypres where he passed away. Sadly, like so many others, his service records were badly damaged during the London Blitz in 1940, only three pages partially survive, but from this we can deduce that he was an intelligent man, keen to serve his country and that he performed his duty well.
Joseph Child is listed on the Roll of Honour in Christ Church, Liversedge where he was baptised, on the War Memorial at Cleckheaton where he lived and on the Roll of Honour of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company for whom he worked, the company is now part of Aviva and Joseph’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on their website.
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