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War Memorials

In Memory of
Rifleman R/9409
7th Battalion The King's Own Rifle Corps
Who died on Tuesday, 25th August 1916
Age 30

No Known Grave. Pier & Face 13A & 13B
Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", France1

Joseph Greening was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 18862, the third child, second son of Charles Albert (b. c1857, Eastington, Gloucestershire) and Ann Greening (b. c1851, North Wingfield, Derbyshire née Handbury). Charles worked for the Midland Railway for much of his life, which meant that the family moved with his job several times. After Chesterfield, they moved to Wellingborough and then to Nottingham. By 1901, the family had made their home at 17 Waterway Street, Nottingham by which time, Joseph, aged 15, was working as a van boy3.

In 1909, Joseph married Alice Elizabeth Flook (b. 1884, Nottingham), the daughter of a railway porter4. Their daughter. Elsie Elizabeth was born about a year later and, by 1911, they were living at 3 Crown Street, Old Basford, Nottingham, with Joseph working as a railway sidings porter5. Meanwhile, Joseph's parents had moved to Beeston where, in 1911, they were living at 108 Windsor Street with their two youngest daughters. Charles had, by this time, left the railway and had found work as a labourer at the Co-operative Society's hide and skin works, that had been recently established adjacent to the railway crossing in Beeston6. Ann Greening, Joseph's mother, died in October 1914.

As Joseph's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted with The King's Own Rifle Corps, but from what evidence we have, it was probably in March 1915 at Nottingham7. He become part of 7th (Service) Battalion which had been formed at Winchester in August 1914 and, after training at Aldershot, Grayshott and Bordon, had landed at Boulogne, France on the 19th May 1915 as part of 41st Brigade, 14th (Light) Division8. After training, Joseph moved to France on 30 June 1915 as part of later reinforcements, joining with his battalion, then in trenches at Hooge in the Ypres Salient.

In the summer of 1916, 14th Division, took part in the Battle of the Somme, positioned on the Arras front, before moving to Dernancourt and taking part in attacks on Delville Wood in August, with heavy casualties. On the 25th August, the battalion was positioned in trenches that were in a very bad state, with many dead lying in and about them. Intermittent hostile shelling and sniper fire was countered by a bombardment which, in turn, brought on a heavy bombardment from the enemy. Private Greening was amongst 10 other ranks and an officer killed at that time. 15 others were wounded9.

Private Greening's body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing which now stands adjacent to the Leipzig Redoubt. The memorial was unveiled on the 1st August 1932 by the then Prince of Wales and is the largest British War Memorial in the world. Standing 150 feet high, it dominates the surrounding area. The memorial stands on a concrete raft 10ft thick, built 19ft below the ground, the solution to the problems of building over the warren of tunnels that formed the German second line. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens the memorial has sixteen masonry piers, where can be found, on the panel faces, the names of some 72,000 British and 830 South African soldiers who died and have no known grave, during the period starting in July 1915, when the British Third Army took over from the French, through the Somme battles of 1916, until 20th March 1918, the eve of the last great German offensive on the Somme. The focal point of the memorial is the Stone of Remembrance, which lies under the great arch and centrally between the piers, for which Rudyard Kipling chose a quotation from Ecclesiasticus, "There name liveth forevermore".

Private Greening was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1915 Star. Under the terms of Joseph's 'Soldiers Will', his widow and sole legatee was paid his financial effects of 1 1s 8d on 8 March 1917 and his War Gratuity of 7 on 15 September 19198. By this time, Alice had married Samuel Burden. She died in Nottingham in 1968, aged 84. Charles, Joseph's father, continued to live in Beeston, later moving to Clifford Avenue to live with his daughter Florence's family. He died in 1943. age 83 and is buried with his wife and other members of his family in Beeston Cemetery, where a memorial survives11.

1The photograph of the Thiepval Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Chesterfield Registration District in Q2/1886 (Ref 7b 745)
3Nottingham, 1901 Census, Piece 3167 Folio 68
Joseph's siblings were Mary A (b. 1883), William Henry (c1885-1909), Emma Louisa (b. c1888) and Florence Beatrice (b. 1896).
4Their marriage was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1909 (Ref 7b 684)
5Old Basford, Nottingham, 1911 Census, Piece 20658 RD430 SD5 ED25 Schedule 267
6Beeston, 1911 Census, Piece 20429 RD429 SD3 ED4 Schedule 351
7This date is estimated from amount of the War Gratuity that was awarded and paid to his widow after the war. His place of enlistment is from his entry in "Soldiers Died in the Great War".
8Details of the battalion formation, training and arrival in France are from The Long, Long Trail website - www.1914-1918.net/krrc.htm . The date of Joseph's arrival in France is given on his Medal Card.
9Details the battalion's actions in July/August 1916 are from the battalion war diary.
10Details from Joseph's Medal Card and the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
11Alice's marriage to Samuel Burden was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1919 (Ref 7b 1169). Charles Green's memorial and that of other family members can be viewed from here

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