Private 9303 Joseph William Homer

Killed in Action on Friday, 14th July 1916, age 20.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 9 A 9 B and 10 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 22nd Brigade of 7th Division.

Son of Joseph and May Ann Homer, of 15, Police Station Yard, Horseley Heath, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 2nd May 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2000543/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Joseph William Homer registered December quarter 1896 in Dudley.

1901 Census
Court 1 House 2, Leech Street, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Homer (25, Coal Miner - Cager, born Ocker Hill), his wife Mary A. (29, born Great Bridge), and their 3 children: Maud (5, born Great Bridge), Joseph (4, born Great Bridge), and Samuel (5 months, born Great Bridge).

1911 Census
Court 8 House 7, New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Homer (36, Horse Driver, born Tipton), his wife Mary Ann (39, born Tipton), and their 4 surviving children of 7: Maud (15, born Tipton), Joe (14, Screwer at Wellington Tube Works, born Tipton), Carrie (6, born Tipton) and William Henry (7 months, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/10/3d (1 pound, 10 shillings and 3 pence), this was paid to his father, Joseph, in April 1917. His War Gratuity was £7/0/0d (7 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in approximately December 1914.

Joseph's mother, Mrs Mary Ann Homer, was awarded a Dependant's Pension of 6/0d (6 shillings) per week from 7th August 1917. Sadly, by that time Mary Ann had died (June quarter 1917 aged 47), so the pension transferred to Joseph's father, Joseph. His address at that time was 8 Council House, Lewis Street, Tipton.

Action resulting in his death

On 14th July 1916, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge commenced, and continued until the 17th July. The objective was a major breakthrough of the German second line defences in the south sector of the Somme battlefield, this ran along the Bazentin Ridge with the villages of Bazentin le Petit, Bazentin le Grand and Longueval.

The attack began at 3.20 am with 7th Division, including the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwicks, being given the objectives of capturing Bazentin le Grand Wood and the eastern side of Bazentin le Petit village. The 2nd Warwicks were initially in reserve on the eastern corner of Mametz Wood, but at 4.30am they moved forward over the newly-captured German front line trench towards the south of Bazentin le Grand Wood. They moved through the defensive line established by the first wave of 7th Division, facing heavy machine gun fire, to take Circus Trench. Here they consolidated as the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles went on to attack Bazentin le Petit village, with some support from the 2nd Warwicks. The village was taken by 7.30am although the Royal Irish Rifles and Warwicks were still suffering casualties from German machine guns, and artillery fire from both German and British guns.

Counter attacks from the Germans began around 11.00 am, taking the eastern and northern edges of Bazentin le Petit. In the early afternoon in the northern part of the village, the 2nd Warwicks moved slowly forward, forcing the Germans to retreat. Severe hand-to-hand fighting lead to many losses, but the ruins of the village were again reclaimed and was to remain in British hands.

On the evening of 14th July, the 2nd Warwicks took up reserve positions covering the north-east of the village of Bazentin-le-Petit. They faced constant shelling but were able to dig in and consolidate. They maintained their position until at 2.00 am on 16th July when they were relieved and moved back to the north-east of captured Mametz.

CWGC records Private Homer being killed on the 17th July, but SDGW records him as being killed in action on 14th July. Given that the major action was on the 14th and 15th July with 23 and 10 Other Ranks being killed respectively as opposed to 3 Other Ranks dying of wounds on the 17th when out of the line, I think it likely that the CWGC is wrong and that his date of death was the 14th July. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 6th March 1917
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
Previously reported missing, now reported killed.