Private 66705 Joseph Lemm

Lemm Joseph 96 377x600 Lemm Joseph 96 416x600

Killed in Action on Sunday, 20th May 1917, age 31.
Buried in Grave VII. C. 15. at Wancourt British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 53rd Battalion. 18th Division.
Formerly Army Service Corps R4/068895 (Remounts).

Resided with mother in Hurst Lane, Tipton (per Tipton Herald).
Born: Preston Brook, Salop, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 29th August 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, and St. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/32707/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Joseph Lem (sic) registered March Quarter 1884 in Runcorn.

There is no sign of Joseph Lemm on the 1901 or 1911 Census returns, presumably absent due to his occupation as Boatman.

1901 Census
6 Malthouse Row, Tipton, Staffs.
Hannah Lemm (42, born Tipton) and her 6 children: William (20, Boatman, born West Bromwich), Thomas (19, Boatman, born Liverpool), Selina (12, born Tipton), Annie (10, born Tipton), Olive (5, born Tipton), and Gertrude (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
19 Hurst Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
William Lowke (40, Canal Boatman – Captain, born Minworth), his wife Harriett (38, born London), and their 6 surviving children of 7: John (17, Canal Boatman – Mate, born Tipton), William (15, Canal Boatman – Mate, born Tipton), Thomas (12, School, born Tipton), Hannah (10, School, born Tipton), Lydia (9, School, born Tipton), and Joseph (4, born Tipton).
Also John Lemm (56, father-in-law, Boatman – Captain, born Tipton), and his wife Hannah Lemm (53, born Tipton). None of their children were living with them, but it was recorded that they had 7 surviving children of 11.

Personal Data

Joseph Lemm was born at Preston Brook, Cheshire, at the northern end of the Trent & Mersey canal, This was because his parents worked the canal network as did many of the Lemm family. This travelling life style caused Joseph's absence from the 1901 and 1911 census returns.

Before enlisting, Joseph was employed at Mr Alfred Hughes, Dudley Road, Tipton, and resided with his mother in Hurst Lane. Alfred Hughes's son, also Alfred, was also killed in the Great War.

Joseph enlisted with the Army Service Corps in approximately May 1915. His number prefix of 'R4' suggests that he was in the Army Remount Service which was responsible for the acquisition and training of horses. It is possible that Joseph was responding to advertisments specifically requesting men with experience of working with horses, Joseph would have worked for many years with horses on the canal network.

Joseph landed in France in August 1915 when he would have been in the Army Service Corps. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps at some unknown date, but the Machine Gun Corps was not created until October 1915. He served with the 53rd Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, which belonged to the 18th (Eastern) Division.

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £60/19/6d (60 pounds, 19 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his father, John, in October 1917. His War Gratuity was £8/10/0d (8 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in May 1915.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Arras began on April 9th 1917 as the British prelude to a larger French attack a week later, further south in the Chemin des Dames and Champagne regions. The opening day went well with the famous capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadians, and an advance of up to 3 miles to the east of Arras. Further south, around the River Scarpe and at Bullecourt, the advance was not successful and the casualties heavy. These opening actions were known as the First Battle of the Scarpe.

The French actions a week later were disastrous, massive losses and the French troops refused to follow further orders to attack – in effect mutinying. The British were forced into further action, and launched the Second Battle of the Scarpe on 23rd and 24th April, attacking on both north and south sides of the River Scarpe. Gains were made, with Gavrelle, Monchy-le-Preux and Guémappe now being in British hands.

The Third Battle of the Scarpe took place on 3rd and 4th May with a two-pronged attack: the British attacking east out of Monchy-le-Preux, and the Australians once again trying to take Bullecourt. Neither were successful, and the attacks called off on the second day with, once again, heavy casualties. Joseph’s Division, the 18th (Eastern) Division, took part in this action.

The successes of the opening days seemed far away, and the offensive was becoming an attritional slog with ever diminishing returns. Officially the Arras Offensive ended on 16th May, but certain actions continued, known as ‘Flanking Actions on the Hindenburg Line’.

On the 20th May, the machine guns of 56th Brigade Machine Gun Corps were firing a machine gun barrage in support of one such attack by the 33rd Division, an attack which was not too successful. This barrage continued sporadically throughout the day. Their War Diary records “3.00am: Two men killed in Brown Trench, No. 2 Section”. We cannot be sure of the cause, but was likely to have been from enemy artillery.

The two men were Private Joseph Lemm and Private John Davies. Initially the men were buried close to the location where they were killed (Trench Map Reference 51b.N.36.b.0.0), but in August 1920 they were exhumed and re-buried side by side in Wancourt British Cemetery, just over a mile north of their original burial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald October 20th 1917
Private Joseph Lemm
The friends of Private Joseph Lemm, of the 53rd Company, Machine Gun Corps, heard with great regret that he was killed on May 21st of this year. He was a single man, 31 years of age, and joined the Army on May 5th 1915. At the time of enlisting, he was employed at Mr Alfred Hughes, Dudley Road, Tipton, and resided with his mother in Hurst Lane.