10504 PTE. J. A. HARDMAN. S.GDS.
Joseph Aloysius Hardman was born on 18 March 1891, to James and Catherine (née Houghton). The family then lived in Ward’s Row, Lostock Hall (at the time considered part of Farington). His father, James, was an overlooker (tackler) in the mill. James was born in Brindle and his wife in Clayton, and they had previously lived in Bamber Bridge, moving to Lostock Hall just before Joseph was born. James and Catherine had 9 children, 8 of whom survived infancy: James b. 1882, Mary E, b. 1884, Agnes Ann, b. 1885, Isabella, b. 1887, John William b. 1889, (then Joseph), Margaret Alice, b. 1893, Lucy (1895-1901) and Frederick, b 1899.
In 1911, the Hardman family were living at 9 Princess Street, Lostock Hall. Although his father and all his siblings worked in the mill, Joseph was a labourer in a foundry. By 1915 (when they received news of Joe’s death) his parents were running the Pleasant Retreat.
Joseph enlisted in the 2nd Batallion, Scots Guards. In October 1914, the Scots Guards left Southampton on the 5th, arriving at Zeebrugge on the 7th then on to Ostend where the town is crowded with wounded Belgians fleeing from Antwerp which was reported to have fallen to the Germans. In October and November the Battalion was engaged in heavy fighting to defend the town of Ypres. Conditions in the trenches were appalling. On 18 December, the Scots Guards launched an attack from their trenches against the Germans, but it was poorly coordinated and utterly chaotic. Despite individual acts of bravery and heroism it was a dismal failure, more than half the men involved in the attack were mown down by German machine guns.
January 1915 was quiet in the trenches, as was February. During this time reinforcements arrived from England and by the end of the month the Battalion strength was back up to around 800 officers and men. 10504 Private Joseph Aloysius Hardman joined the Battalion at this point, his active service beginning on 17 February 1915.
March 10, 1915 - the Scots Guards joined other British and Indian troops in the Artois region of northern France to attack the Germans around the village of Neuve Chapelle.
March 12 4.15am the Battalion move off along the Neuve Chapelle - Frauquissart road. The troops have to try to advance through communication trenches which in some places are waist deep in water. The assault is progressing on several fronts and it becomes apparent that they are not all progressing at the same rate. The Battalion’s War Diary records: “A message from the Brigade postponing the attack until 12.30pm was not received owing to the orderlies who carried it being killed and the attack was launched at 10.30 without artillery preparation... After advancing about 150 yards the Battalion was compelled to stop by very heavy machine gun and rifle fire. Three officers and about 100 men were lost during this advance. At about 11.30 the artillery opened and shelled the enemy's first positions very heavily and with great accuracy for about two hours, after which white flags began to appear and some of the enemy emerged from their trench with their hands up. An immediate advance was made and the first positions captured without difficulty.... 300 prisoners and a machine gun were captured. Next, a communication trench was attacked and some progress made but enfilade fire from the right and machine gun fire from the houses on the road was sufficiently heavy to frustrate all attempts to advance across the open so that no further advantage could be obtained.” The position was consolidated and the Battalion remained in the trenches until dark. The Battalion was withdrawn before daylight on March 13.
This is the action during which Joseph Hardman was killed, after little more than 3 weeks in France and just one week before his 24th birthday. His body was never found. He is commemorated at the Le Touret Memorial, between Béthune and Lille in northeast France.
The attack in which Joe was killed took the outnumbered Germans by surprise. The British achieved their initial objective but failed to capitalize on the narrow breach they created in the German lines. After three days of fighting, with over 11,000 casualties, the British offensive was suspended. The Germans suffered over 10,000 casualties.
Service No: 10504
Date of Death: 12/03/1915
Regiment/Service: Scots Guards, 2nd Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 3 and 4.
Memorial: LE TOURET MEMORIAL
Two brothers also served: James in 9 Loyal North Lancs, and John William in Royal Army Service Corps.