Killed in Action on Friday, 15th September 1916, age 22.
Buried in Grave VII. D. 9. at Guards' Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme, France.
2nd Bn., Grenadier Guards. 1 (Gds) Brigade of Guards Division.
Son of Joseph and Sarah Ann Bryan, of 40, Lea Brook Rd., Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Unknown.
First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Mark's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/542560/
Court 3 House 8, Leabrook Road, Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
John Bryan (49, Stoker at Chemical Works, born Tipton), his wife Sarah A. (34, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Samuel (17, Bricklayer's Labourer, born Tipton), John (15, Tap Turner-over, born Tipton), Elizabeth (13, born Tipton), Hezekiah (9, born Tipton), Joseph (7, born Tipton), and Florence (4, born Tipton).
40 Leabrook Road, Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
John Bryan (61, Boiler Stoker, born Tipton), his wife Sarah Ann (44, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Hezekiah (19, General Labourer, born Tipton), Joseph (17, Labourer at Tube Works, born Tipton), Florence Maria (14, born Tipton), and Ena (4, born Tipton).
After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/18/8d (2 pounds, 18 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Sarah A., in March 1917. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in December 1915.
15th September 1916 was a day of great progress for the Allies, with the commencement of the third phase of the Battle of the Somme known as the Battle of Flers-Courcellette. The Allies advanced on a six mile front to a depth of 2,000 to 3,000 yards, Flers, Martinpuich, Courcelette and High Wood were all captured and tanks made their first ever appearance in battle. The main delay was that the Guards Division advancing towards Lesboeufs were held up by the German position known as the Quadrilateral. John Vaughan Campbell, of the Coldstream Guards, won the Victoria Cross at Ginchy on that day (the 'Tally-Ho' VC).
The Grenadiers were to support the leading battalions of Coldstream Guards, and also attack from near Ginchy towards the village of Lesboeufs. Leaving the protection of their trenches at 7.30am, 350 yards behind the Coldstreams, they immediately came under heavy German shellfire - reportedly at the rate of one per second. They pressed on along the Ginchy-Lesboeufs road but were no longer in touch with the leading units. The Regimental History records "Almost immediately after the 2nd Battalion cleared the barrage, it came under machine gun fire from the left flank and rifle fire from the right rear. Instead of finding itself, as it expected, in rear of the Coldstreams, it was suddenly confronted by a trench full of the enemy."
They now had to deploy into line and, while they were doing so, they had many casualties and there was no artillery support. One platoon was now pushed out as a defensive flank preventing the Germans from working round behind them. This enabled troops to rush the centre of the German trench. As soon as they did so, they came under grenade attacks from Germans further down the trench system.
Supplies of their own grenades were now running low and they were being forced back. Captain Harcourt-Vernon led the men in a bayonet charge across the open ground - taking the Germans by surprise. The Grenadiers were now able to hold their positions against several counter-attacks until things quietened down in the night. They had suffered 378 casualties - dead, wounded or missing. The 2nd Grenadier Guards actually had 74 Other Ranks killed on that day, including Private Joseph Bryan. He is buried, along with many of his Guards comrades, at Guards Cemetery, Lesbouefs.
Tipton Herald 25th November 1916 and 16th December 1916 (identical except photo with latter).
OCKER HILL GUARDSMAN KILLED IN ACTION.
Private Joseph Bryan, of 40 Leabrook Road, Ocker Hill, is another Tipton soldier to fall in action. He enslisted in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards on November 15th 1915, and was sent into France on May 25th last, where he saw some very heavy fighting in the Battle of the Somme in which he fell on September 15th. He leaves an invalid father, mother, two sisters & three brothers to mourn his loss. He was a scholar at the Ocker Hill Council School.