20856 PTE. J. STOREY. L.N.LAN.R.
Joseph Storey was born in the first quarter of 1897 at St Bees, near Whitehaven in Cumberland. His father John Storey (b. 1863 in Whitehaven) was a coal hewer. In 1901, the family was living at Goose Butts in the parish of Hensingham near Whitehaven and John was working in the pit, but he died not long after as by 1911 his widow Mary, née Wade (b. 1868 in St Bees) had moved to Longton with their four children: Isabella (b. 1893, who had found work as a domestic servant with the Pye family in Longton), Thomas (b. 1895, a poultryman), Joseph (aged 14 in 1911 and working as a cotton weaver’s tenter), and Mary (b. 1901). According to the newspaper article published at the time of his death, Joseph lived at 8 Harold Terrace, Tardy Gate, and was employed at Wood-Milne’s (rubber works) in Leyland.
From the same article we learn that Joseph enlisted at Whitsuntide 1915, just after he turned 18. There is some confusion as to the Battalion he joined, but I believe it was 8thBattalion (see below for further explanation). After training he joined the Battalion in the field sometime in 1916. He was wounded and invalided home, returning to the front in June 1917.
On 7-8 June 1917, the Battalion took part in the successful assault on the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge. The ridge had previously provided the Germans with a strategic point from which to observe and frustrate Allied attempts to attack, and its capture was deemed essential in the run-up to the planned offensive at the end of the summer. Although successful, the Battalion lost 36 NCOs and men killed, 4 officers and 98 other ranks wounded, and 7 men missing.
The Battalion was then moved around various locations near Ypres as preparations were finalised for the major offensive – the Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele. From the Regimental history (this action takes place near Gheluvelt):
On the early morning of 31 July the 7th Brigade moved up to Halifax House dug-outs and remained there all the remainder of this day and the following night. In broad daylight on 1 August the Battalion relieved a unit of the 8th Division on Westhoek Ridge, the relief being carried out under some difficulties owing to the exact position of the battalion being relieved not being accurately known, while the whole operation was executed in full view of the enemy, who was still holding Glencorse Wood. Here the Battalion remained until the night of 5 August when it withdrew to Winnipeg Camp, having during this tour suffered hardship from the very inclement weather and the difficulty of getting up supplies of all kinds, and also many casualties from the enemy; these amounted to 7 officers and 147 other ranks killed, wounded and missing.
Joseph Storey was killed on 4 August during this operation, according to the newspaper article ‘by the bursting of a shell’. He was 20 years old. His body was never recovered and he has no grave. Joseph’s effects - £1 4s 9d and the War Gratuity of £9 10s – were paid to his mother who later moved back to Cumberland.
There is some confusion about which Battalion Joseph served in: CWGC records Joseph’s Battalion as the 9th, as does the Register of Soldiers Effects, however the Medal Roll shows 8th. I incline to the view that he was in 8Bn at least at the time of his death (and this is the account given above), since 9Bn was not at the front at that time: in the early days of August 1917, 9Bn had been placed at the disposal of the Royal Engineers and was deployed in construction work: building roads, connecting water supplies, digging communication trenches and consolidating the new front line. 9Bn did not rejoin the fighting until 10 August. It is of course perfectly possible that he served in both Battalions, perhaps originally in 9Bn then in 8Bn on his return to the front after recovering from injury.
Service No: 20856
Date of Death: 04/08/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 8th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 41 and 43.
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL