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War Memorials

In Memory of
Pioneer 26693
16th Battn/Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who was Killed in Action on Sunday 29th July 1917
Age 39

Buried Plot VII Row A Grave 11
Vlamertingne New Military Cemetery, Belgium

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

Vlamertingne New Military Cemetery

Joseph William West was born in Lenton, Nottinghamshire in 18782, the son of Arthur, a stationery engine driver, and Sarah Elizabeth (née Holehouse) West3. On Christmas Day in 1896, Joseph married Jane Dessaur4 and the couple set up home in Hyson Green, Nottingham, with Joseph working as a carter5. By 1911, Joseph and his wife and family had moved to Beeston and were living at 73 Windsor Street6. Joseph had found work as a plate layer with the Midland Railway. By this time. they had four children living - Amelia Mabel (b. 1897). Harold (b. c1899), John Henry (b. 1900) and Joseph William (b. c1907) - and three more had died as infants. A further daughter, Clarissa, was born towards the end of 1911.

Although his Service Record has not survived, it appears that Joseph enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment in May 19157 and joined the 16th (Service) Battalion, known as the Chatsworth Rifles. This battalion had been formed at Derby on 16 April 1915, by the Duke of Devonshire and the Derbyshire Territorial Force Association8.

Training began immediately, at first in Buxton, Derbyshire, before moving to Redmires, near Sheffield in early June. This area is known to have been used to teach trainees the techniques of digging trenches9. In September, they came under the orders of 117th Brigade in 39th Division, moving to Hursley Park, near Winchester. They moved to Witley Camp, near Godalming in Surrey in late 1915.

On 7th March 1916, the battalion left Southampton and landed at Le Havre, France in heavy snow. After a brief period of trench familiarisation they soon saw action and began to incur the inevitable casualties. In June 1916, and continuing into July, they were part of battles at Ferme du Bois, near Richeboug which had been ordered as a diversionary attack to attempt to draw the enemy away from the Battle of the Somme which was launched on 1 July. In total, the battalion was in the front line trenches here for a total of 35 days, engaged continuously with the enemy. Two officers and 12 other ranks had been killed and four officers and 85 other ranks had been wounded. In September, they incurred heavy casualties while in action at Beaumont Hamel. In October they were in action in the Thiepval sector and again incurred heavy casualties against enemy positions. There was more action in November when the battalion attacked and captured St Pierre Divion as part of the Battle of the Ancre. Action by the battalion continued in 1917, particularly around Brandhoek in the Ypres Salient in Belgium. During his service of just over two years, during which he had seen much action, Private West had been promoted several times and had attained the rank of Sergeant when, on July 29 1917, he was killed during the battalion's preparations for an attack on Hill Top Sector near Brandhoek. He was buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery10.

Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery is located 5 Kms west of Ypres and to the south of the village with the modern spelling of Vlamertinge.†For much of the First World War, Vlamertinghe was just outside the normal range of German shell fire and the village was used both by artillery units and field ambulances. Burials were made in the original Military Cemetery until June 1917, when the New Military Cemetery was begun in anticipation of the Allied offensive launched on this part of the front in July. Although the cemetery continued in use until October 1918, most of the burials are from July to December 1917.†The cemetery now contains 1,812 Commonwealth burials of the First World War11.

Sergeant West was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal and the British Medal12. His War Gratuity of £12 10s was paid to his widow, as sole legatee after a small balance he owed was repaid13. In 1920, his widow married James Michael Cash, a widower with no children of his own, and moved to live in Burton on Trent where James worked as a brewery labourer14. She died in 1941, aged 63.15.

1The photograph of Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Radford Registration District (which included Lenton) in Q4 1878 (Ref 7b 228)
31891 Census, Piece 2686 Folio 53 - 19 Garden Street, Radford, Notts. Joseph, then aged 12, is living with his parents. His siblings were Mabel (b. c1881), Minnie (b. c1884) & Maud (b. c1890). Harriet Louisa (1873-1909), Joseph Henry (b. 1875) & Frederick William (1878-1943) were then living elsewhere.
4They married at St Pauls, Hyson Green, Nottingham. Jane Dessaur was born in Spitalfields, London in Q3/1878 (Whitechapel Registration District 1c 314), the daughter of Davis & Amelia Dessaur.
5In 1901, there were living at 18/20 Montford Street, New Radford, Nottingham with Jane's father David, who appears to have adopted the name of 'King', his wife Mary and family (1901 Census Piece 3181 Folio 34). David had married, Nottingham born Mary Colton in Q2/1894 (Basford Registration District 7b 307)
61911 Census, Piece 20430 RD429 SD3 ED5 Sched 4.
7His enlistment date is calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity.
8Details of 16th Battalion's formation and early deployment is from the Notts & Derby site (www.nottsandderby.co.uk/Notts___Derby/notts___derby.html) and The Long Long Trail site (www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-derbyshire-regiment/).
9The site at Redmires was the subject of archaeological surveys between 1999 and 2006, by students from The Institute of Lifetime Learning, University of Sheffield. Their comprehensive report can be found at www.pals.org.uk/sheffield/redmires.pdf
10This account of 16th Battalion's action in France and Belgium during 1916 and 1917 is a summary of its war diary (available on ancestry.com).
11This description of Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery is based on that included in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
12Sergeant West's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com. It appears that, unusually, there was a small amount (possibly 19s 7d) owing by Joseph, which the widow was required to repay.
14Their marriage was at Beeston Parish Church on 28 August 1920. They then went on to live at 66 Horninglow Road North, Burton on Trent Staffordshire.
15Her death was recorded in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1941 (Ref 7b 526). It appears that she had moved back to Beeston at some point, after her husband's death in Burton on Trent in Q3/1941

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