Sergeant Joseph Pearson. 12th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. Service number 31029.
Previous service with the West Yorkshire Regiment, no. 1359.
Joseph was born on 13th May 1890 and his birth was registered that year at Goole, Yorkshire. His parents were Marshall and
Annie Pearson. Tragically Marshall died in 1890. Joseph was just ten months old in the 1891 census and living at 66, George Street in Goole with his widowed mother Annie and his brothers Francis, George, William and their sister Jane Ann.
By 1911 Annie had moved the family to 26, Ludford Street in Grimbsby and must have remarried as she was now Annie Andrew. Jane was 13 and Joseph was 11.
We couldn't find a 1911 census record for Joseph but he found his way to 6, Stanbury and when war broke out he attested at Keighley, on 21st May 1915 aged 25 with the West Yorkshire Regiment, service number 1359. His civilian occupation was engine driver and his 'common law wife' was Maria Benstead, with whom he'd been cohabiting for 7 years (since 1908) and his
enlistment sheet states she was dependant on him. His record states he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on 8th April
1916 and he arrived in France on 20th May when he was posted to 36 Company MGC, then to the 12th Battalion
on 9th May 1917 when he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
Joseph was home on leave on 9th August 1917 for one week. He returned to his unit on 24th August and was wounded with a gun shot wound on 24th November 1917 and admitted to 62 Field Ambulance for treatment, returning to his unit on 2nd December.
He became acting lance sergeant on 26th February 1918 and was wounded again on 5th April this time with a gun shot wound to the thorax. He was admitted to 13 Australian field Ambulance, then to no. 3 Stationary Hospital and on to no. 22 General Hospital in Carniers. After treatment he convalesced at Etaples, then Trouville and to Base depot on 28th May. Joseph was promoted to full Corporal on 14th June 1918. He joined 12th Battalion MGC on 19th July in the field and was killed in action on 13th August 1918.
12 Battalion Machine Gun Corps war diary entry for 13th August 1918:
At 4.45 am 7th Royal Sussex and 9th Royal Fusiliers (36th Inf. Bde) attacked the trench running through K.5.b.5.3. - E.29.d.3.0 - E.29.d.0.1. - E.29.c.2.5. - to join it to present line on both flanks.
This operation was supported by Artillery, and M.Gs and we expended 30,000 rounds but the operation was only partly successful.
One company of 50th M.G. Battalion (Corps reserve) came up and took over M.G. defence of Old British defences west of MORLANCOURT; the remaining three companies of 50th Battalion taking over the defence of the Right and Centre Divisional Areas West of the N and S Grid Line befween E.25 and E.26. There has been a marked increase in hostile artillery during the past 24 hours. Casualties:- Killed: O.R. 2, Wounded: O.R. 7.
Joseph was one of the two O.R. (other ranks) killed on this date. The other man was Fred Roscorla from Lower Trenant, St Neot, Liskeard, Cornwall, son of John and Ellen Roscorla.
Joseph is buried in grave 7 of row I, plot VI in Beacon Cemetery, Sailly- Laurette in France. His headstone records him as a Sergeant so presumably his acting sergeant status was returned after he went back to his unit in July.
Joseph was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service but these were returned 'undisposed of' so it's possible these are still classed as unissued. The Great War memorial plaque and scroll were sent to Annie Maria Jennings and she acknowledged receipt of them.
Joseph is remembered on the Stanbury and Oldfield War Memorial in Stanbury Cemetery.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Tax Valuation, 1910
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Keighley News archives in Keighley Library
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923