Sergeant 23214 Joseph James Keeling

 Keeling Joseph John 96 429x600

Died of Wounds on Friday, 25th October 1918, age 21.
Buried in Grave I. A. 20. at Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, Pas De Calais, France.

1st Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 10th Brigade of 4th Division.
Formerly 23214 2nd Bn. & 11th Bn. Royal Warwicks Regiment.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Keeling, of 4, Coton Cottages, Coton Lane, Erdington, Birmingham.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Birmingham.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial but commemorated on St. Barnabas's, Erdington Memorial.
Commemorated here because recorded on the Census as born in Tipton.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/313657/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Joseph John Keeling registered September quarter 1897 in Dudley.

1901 Census
39 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Keeling (25, Canal Boat Loader, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (24, born Tipton), and their son: Joseph (3, born Tipton).

1911 Census
120 Holly Lane, Erdington, Birmingham.
Joseph Keeling (35, Clayhole Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah (34, born Tipton), and their son: Joseph (13, School, born Tipton).

Joseph John was the only child of Joseph and Sarah, they were still alive in 1939 (aged 64 and 63) and still living in Erdington, at 36 Camberley Grove.

Personal Data

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £14/19/2d (14 pounds, 19 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his father, Joseph, in two parts in February and May 1919. His War Gratuity was £11/10/0d (11pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in approximately October 1916. Joseph's parents were awarded a pension of 6/0d (6 shillings) per week, effective from May 5th 1919.

Joseph's parents chose the following words to be inscribed on his gravestone: "Gone from our home, but not our hearts. Until we meet again". Until the government backed down under some pressure, the inscriptions were charged at 3½ pence per letter, this inscription giving a charge of 13/5d (12 shillings and 5 pence).

Action resulting in his death

After the Hindenburg Line had been breached in late September 1918, the Germans retreated to a new defensive line along the River Selle, in the area of Le Cateau. Two weeks later, the British were ready for the next phase of the offensive, the Battle of the Selle (17-25 October 1918).

There were successful attacks on the 17th and 20th October before a third attack began on 23rd October. This brought the 1st Royal Warwicks (1/RW) into action. On 23rd October, the 1/RW moved into battle position by 23.00 hours, with ‘B’ & ‘D’ Companies in the front line, ‘B’ on the right and ‘D’ on the left. ‘C’ Company was left support, and ‘A’ Company right support.

The 1/RW attack, led by ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies, began at 04.00 hours on 24th October, suffering a few casualties when our own barrage fell a little short. The village of Verchain was captured, and by 05.00 hours the first objective taken. ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies passed through ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies and moved on towards the second objective, on high ground to the north-east of Verchain. This proved impossible to take because of an enemy trench line on the crest of the hill, and several enemy machine guns.

After digging in within 200 yards from the objective, 1/RW were relieved that night, going back to billets in Saulzoir.

During the action the battalion had 1 Officer and 8 Other Ranks killed in action, and about 90 men wounded. 5 men died of wounds on the next day, 25th October, most likely from wounds received in that action, Joseph Keeling amongst them.

Joseph was brought back to the 2nd or 57th Casualty Clearing Stations at Buissy, about 20 miles west of Saulzoir. He died there, and was buried in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy which was started by in October 1918 by these Casualty Clearing Stations. Joseph is buried in the original section, Plot I, Row A.

Newspaper Cuttings