Private Joseph Thomas Midgley Robinson

Joseph Thomas Midgley (Robinson)
Private, Wellington Infantry Battalion. Service number 10/3379.

Joseph Thomas Robinson Midgley

Early life:
Joseph was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire early in 1888, the son of Elizabeth Hannah Robinson. His mother married Joseph Midgley on December 23, 1891 and Joseph took the surname Midgley.

Slack House at top right, nowadays known as Newsholme Manor

By 1901 he was thirteen and living at Slack Farm in Oakworth with his step-father, his mother, four brothers and two sisters. He was a paper maker, possibly at the Turkey paper mill just down the hill at Goose Eye.
Note: Slack Farm is actually Slack House (see map) but nowadays it is called Newsholme Manor and appears to be a newer building, which suggests the original farm building was demolished some years ago.
By 1911 Joseph was twenty-three, working as a butcher and journeyman for the Co-operative Society and still living at Slack Lane in Oakworth with his parents, six brothers and five sisters.
On February 26, 1914 aged twenty six years, Joseph emigrated to New Zealand, sailing on the P & O ship S.S. Benalla.


Name of Ship: "Benalla"
Steamship Line: P & O Branch Service to Australia via the Cape.
Date of departure 26 Feb 1914
Names and descriptions of BRITISH passengers embarked at the Port of London
Contract Ticket Number: 908
Names of passengers: Joseph Robinson
Class (Whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd): 3rd
Port at which Passenger have contracted to land: Sydney
Profession, Occupation or Calling of Passengers: Farmer
Ages of Passengers (not accompanied by husband or wife): 26
Country of last permanent residence: 1 (in the England column)
Country of intended Future Permanent Residence: NEW SOUTH WALES AUSTRALIA.


War service:
He enlisted as part of the eighth draft on August 24, 1915 and joined B Company of the Wellington Infantry Battalion. His New Zealand Address was 24, Munro St., Napier. He went overseas from New Zealand on November 13, 1915. He was posted to unit in France on March 1, 1916 and appointed Company Cook on March 8, clearly his experience as a butcher stood him in good stead.

From the Alphabetical Roll of New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 1914:
Reg. No: 10/3379; Rank: Private; Name: Robinson, Joseph Thomas; Body or Reinforcement Draft: Eighth; Unit or Regiment: Wellington Infantry Battalion.; Single, Married, or Widower: S; Last New Zealand Address: 24, Munro St., Napier.; Military District: Wellington; Name and Address of Next-of-kin: Joseph Midgley (father), Slack Farm, Oakworth, Yorks, England.

Death:
Joseph was wounded in action on June 9, and died at 4.45 am on June 10, at number 8 Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul. His death was caused by a bomb wound to his left leg and shock and he was buried in grave 169, row B, plot II of Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord).

Keighley News report dated 24th June 1916, page 7:
OAKWORTH. Soldier's Death From Wounds.
Private Joseph T. Robinson Midgley, son of Joseph Midgley, Slack Farm, Oakworth, and Nephew of Mr Midgley, draper, Church Street, Keighley, has died from wounds. He was formerly a butcher employed by the Keighley Co-operative Society, but emigrated to New Zealand about four years ago. There he joined a colonial contingent and was seriously wounded in action.

After the war:
Joseph was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service.

He is listed in many records as Joseph Thomas Robinson, but his name on the Oakworth War Memorial is J T Midgley, along with his half brother Frank Midgley who was also killed in the war, whilst serving with the 11th Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment.

He is remembered on the Oakworth War Memorial in Holden Park, Oakworth as 'Joseph T. Midgley,' and on the Oakworth Great War Centenary roll of honour as 'Joseph Thomas Robinson Midgley.'

Oakworth war memorial name panel

The Oakworth Great War roll of honour. 475 names of those who served

He is also remembered in New Zealand on several war memorials:
Borough of Northcote Roll of Honour
Auckland Museum online memorial
(We shared our information about Joseph with them in 2015.)

He is also remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Joseph Robinson's Great War memorial scroll is held at Keighley Library, along with his half brother Frank Midgley's scroll. What's confusing is that it's Joseph Robinson and Frank Midgley but we've been able to explain their family relationship and the reason these two scrolls are together in the archives.

Sources:
England and Wales birth records
1891 Census
1901 Census
1911 Census
New Zealand Army Service Records
Commonweath War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War
P&O Outbound Passenger list
Auckland Museum
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
Map extract above by courtesy of the National Library of Scotland website.

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