Private 11797 Joseph Perry

Perry Joseph 96 400x600 Perry Joseph bw 96 400x600
Possibly clearer in monochrome?

Killed in Action on Monday, 13th November 1916, age 19.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 7 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

'C' Company of 2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of Joseph and Lucy Perry, of 17, Wood St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 16th March 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/1547855/

Genealogical Data

Joseph Perry was born 20th February 1897.

1901 Census
47 Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Perry (30, Oddwork Joiner, born Tipton), his wife Lucy (28, born West Bromwich), and their 4 children: Algernon (8, born Tipton), Joseph (4, born Tipton), Dorcas (2, born Tipton) and Frank (10 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
47 Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph (40, Gas Engine Driver, born Tipton), wife Lucy (39, born West Bromwich), and their 9 surviving children of 12: Algernon John (18, Assistant Engine Driver, born Tipton), Joseph Henry (14, Assistant Moulder, born Tipton), Dorcas (12, School, born Tipton), Matthew (9, School, born Tipton), George Edward (7, School, born Tipton), Lucy May (5, School, born Tipton), William (4, born Tipton), Ernest (2, born Tipton) and John Herbert (3 months, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Joseph enlisted on 12th September 1914, aged just 17. He first landed in France on 16th March 1915, a month after his 18th birthday - below the legal age limit of 19.

The Records of No.2 General Hospital at Quai d'Escarts, Havre, show that Joseph was admitted on 26th September 1915 with "Gas Poisoning" and 2 days later was evacuated to England on Hospital Ship 'St. David'. This was most likley from the opening day of the Battle of Loos, 25th September 1915, when the 2nd South Staffs were to attack to the south of the La Bassée canal. The Royal Engineers thought conditions unfavourable for gas release, but the order to release the gas was confirmed. The gas put 130 men out of action before the advance started. Three Tipton men, Privates Thomas Nicholls, Albert Tromans, and Arthur Wood, were killed on that day.

Jopseh's Medal Index Card says that died of wounds on 15th November 1916, 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' says Killed in Action on 13th November. Probably more accurate is his Pension Card which says that Joseph was "presumed killed for official purposes 13-15th November", in other words he was killed between those dates, and never found.

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances represented a debit balance of £7/5/9d (7 pounds, 5 shillings and 9 pence) - that is Joseph owed the army money; there is no evidence of any attempt to recover this. His War Gratuity was £12/10/0d (12 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his mother, Lucy, in March 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in September 1914.

Joseph's mother, Mrs Lucy Perry, was awarded a Dependant's Pension of 6/0d (6 shillings) per week from 24th July 1917.

Action resulting in his death

Joseph Perry was killed in the final action by the 2nd South Staffs in 1916, the attack near Serre on the Quadrilatteral Redoubt and the Redan Ridge. Between the 13th and 15th November, 56 men of the 2nd South Staffs were killed, of these 4 were from Tipton: Joseph Fellows and Joseph Perry on the 13th, and William Day and William Tibbs on the 15th. Day and Tibbs are buried in Serre Road No. 2 Cemetery, whilst Fellows and Perry have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The actions of the day are well covered by the following quote from Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp's book "When the Whistle Blows" about the Footballer's Battalions. This is followed by an extract from the 2nd South Staffs War Diary.

In October and November 1916 an attack was to take place south of Gommecourt by Gough's Reserve Army (which became the 5th Army) to which the 2nd Division had been transferred; the 2nd Division's role was to take the Redan Ridge. In October training took place in Puchevillers, with a small-scale model of the Redan Ridge being constructed to help assimilate the ground conditions.
From the middle of October weather conditions deteriorated and mud made even basic survival a trial. The attack was postponed a number of times due to the weather.
The Germans, aware of the impending attack, bombarded the front line, destroying whole sections. Much of the remaining trench was knee-deep in mud and water. The attack was set for 5.45am on the 13th November, thick fog settled round Serre on the night preceding the attack. No man's land was also in a terrible state.
Advancing through thick fog, by 6.15am the first waves of the 2nd South Staffs had taken the German front line. A few casualties were taken, largely as the left hand company had advanced too close to the British barrage. Advancing on, the 2nd South Staffs found the wire virtually uncut in front of the German support line. Confusion over direction and mixed-up battalions, plus of course the mud, caused the 2nd South Staffs to lose the barrage. Once the barrage had passed, the Germans emerged from the safety of their dugouts. Machine Gun fire from Serre and the Quadrilateral now started to give many casualties, and the German artillery was now putting down a heavy barrage.
The fog began to lift giving the German machine gunners the visibility to do their worst, taking many men in enfilade, others were captured by German troops. Others began to fall back to the British front line, numbers were such that a composite battalion of 2nd South Staffs and 17th Middlesex was formed. The objective for the rest of 13th November was to be to repel German counter attacks - these did not arise but the German artillery was busy for the remainder of the day. Ultimately the day was a costly failure for the 2nd South Staffs. Further south, at Beaumont Hamel, Beaucourt and south of the Ancre, the objectives had been won.
The morning of the 14th November was misty, but enemy artillery was still active, this was the dominant feature of the day. On the 15th, the 2nd South Staffs was relieved and "marched" back to Mailly Maillet.

2nd South Staffs War Diary: 12th - 13th November 1916
12th. The Battalion moved into assembly trenches South of SERRE and during the night formed up for attack. There was practically no hostile shelling and no casualties occurred during the process of forming up.

13th. The Battalion successfully crossed the German front line and assaulted the second line wire, which was practically uncut. The battalions from the left divisions came across our front breaking up our formations. Reorganisation was rendered difficult by the bluey mist. Casualties among officers and other ranks were very heavy. Among others two company commanders are missing - one known to be wounded, two subalterns are missing and believed killed, several other subalterns were wounded; the four Company Sergeant Majors were wounded, C.S.M. Cox remained on duty till the battalion was relieved. The Chaplain joined Bn. H.Q. and acted as dresser. The old defensive lines in MONK and LEGEND were reoccupied.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 26th June 1915
Mr S Kelsall, Headmaster of St. Paul's (Wood Street) National Schools, Tipton, has received numerous letters from old scholars of the school who are serving in His Majesty's Forces. The following should be of special interest.
The following letter was received from Private J Perry, 2nd. Battalion South Staffordshires, after the fight at Festubert:-
"Dear Sir, I received your kind and welcome letter on June 4th, and I thank you very much for the cigarettes you sent, they were grand. I am pleased to tell you I am quite safe and in the best of health, also my friends who enlisted with me. I am sorry to hear about Walter Hughes, and surprised to hear he was fighting in Turkey.
I also heard about Dan Jeavons. I did go to find him but he was on parade and I could not see him. I shall be pleased if you would send me a copy of the "Herald" with the letter in where he mentions my name. We shall never forget the last charge. As the report says, we lost a few, but we came out victorious. Please remember me to all the teachers.
In a subsequent letter, dated 14th June, he acknowledges receipt of the "Herald", and says he is glad to see that Dan Jeavons was buried with military honours, for "he was a good soldier and was respected by all who knew him."

Tipton Herald 20th November 1915
Lance Corporal Joseph Perry of the 2nd South Staffords is a plucky young soldier who is now staying with his parents, Mr and Mrs Joseph Perry, of 47 Wood Street, Tipton on ten days furlough after being badly gassed at the front. Before the war he was employed at Phoenix Foundry, Tipton Green, where his father also works, and enlisted on September 3rd 1914 when only seventeen years of age. He proceeded to the front in February last, in which month he attained the age of eighteen, and after being for seven months in and out of the trenches, he had the bad luck to be gassed on September 25th. He has been treated in hospitals at Eastbourne and Cirencester, and is suffering from the effects of gas. Lance Corporal Perry will be nineteen in February next.
NOTE: Sept 25th was 1st day of Battle of Loos, and the gas may well have been British, which blew back over our own lines.

Tipton Herald 20th January 1917
Pte. J. Perry belonging to the South Staffords is officially reported missing.

Tipton Herald 5th May 1917
Mrs Perry of Wood Street heard this week unofficially that her younger son had been "knocked over" in battle. On the same morning the elder brother reported at Lichfield for duty. As soldiers in their letters home can be mistaken, it is hoped by all those that know Mrs Perry that the news may prove to be brighter than that at present appears.