Private 8452 Joseph Roberts

Roberts Joseph 96 392x600

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 13th October 1915, age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 73 to 76 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

'C' Company of 1st/5th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.

Son of Daniel and Eliza Mary Roberts, of 15, Short St., Wednesbury, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 5th 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/1767763/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
110 Church Hill, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Daniel Roberts (35, Corporation Road Labourer, born Pensnett), his wife Eliza M. (30, born Wednesbury), and their 6 children: George H. (11, born Tipton), Emma J. (9, born Tipton), Joseph (7, born Tipton), John W. (5, born Wednesbury), Caroline (3, born Wednesbury), and Daniel J. (1, born Wednesbury).

1911 Census
15 Short Street, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Daniel Roberts (46, Corporation Labourer, born Wednesbury), his wife Eliza Mary (41, born Wednesbury), and 8 of their 9 surviving children of 10: George Henry (22, Driller, born Wednesbury), Joseph (18, Heater Mill, born Wednesbury), John William (16, Crane Driver, born Wednesbury), Caroline (14, Nut Screwer, born Wednesbury), Daniel James (12, born Wednesbury), Charles Edward (10, born Wednesbury), Minnie Elizabeth (7, born Wednesbury), and Albert Ernest (5, born Wednesbury).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The 1/6th South Staffs arrived in France between the 3rd and 5th March 1915. They moved to Armentieres on 20th March and then to Fletre for further training. In April the battalion marched to Wulveringhem in Belgium alternating between trench duties and further training. In June 1915 they moved nearer to Ypres, and for the next 2 months spent time at the feared Hill 60.

On 2nd October the 1/6th moved back into France to take part in the second stage of the Loos Offensive. Further training preceded the march to the assembly trenches near Vermelles on 12th October.

At noon on 13th October, a fine sunny day, the attack commenced. The 1/5th and 1/6th South Staffs were to attack the West Face of the heavily defended Hohenzollern Redoubt, from the trench known as Big Willie which was already partly held by the 1/5th South Staffs. The South Staffs battalions were to attack in 4 waves; 'B' and 'C' companies of the 1/5th, followed by 'A' and 'D' companies of the 1/5th, followed by 'A' and 'C' companies of the 1/6th, and finally 'B' and 'D' companies of the 1/6th.

The first wave hardly got out of their trench due to devastating machine gun fire decimating their number. The second wave made their advance unaware of the disaster in front of them and suffered similarly high casualties. The third wave followed on as ordered, as they too were unaware of the situation in front due to lack of communication and the smoke intended to mask the South Staffs advance. The fourth wave also took losses, but at this point the attack was called off.

The 1/5th South Staffs, who provided the first and second waves, had over 100 men killed on the day or died from wounds in the next week. The 1/6th South Staffs, who provided the third and fourth waves, lost over 125 men. The attack was a costly failure and this in effect was the culmination of the Battle of Loos. This was the single most expensive day for the 46th (North Midlands) Division, even though it was involved in July 1st 1916 at Gommecourt. The Division had casualties of 180 Officers and 3583 Other Ranks. As Edmonds wrote in the Official History ".. it was a long time before the Division recovered from the effects of 13th October."

Joseph Roberts, like the majority of the men killed here, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner, in sight of the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

War Diary 1/5th 13th October 1915
"From 12 noon, Headquarters, 'A' and 'D' Companies were in the old front line trench between Hulloch Alley and Border Alley; 'B' and 'C' Companies were in the first line of attack. At 2.10pm the attack went in and 'B' Company was enfiladed and shelled. 'A' and 'D' Companies experienced machine gun and rifle fire from the left. All officers and most men were killed. At 2.20pm the Germans counter-attacked Big Willie Trench but were driven back. A second counter attack was also repulsed. Heavy losses among trained bombers led to a slight withdrawal. They were reinforced by a platoon of 1/6th South Staffordshire who, during the night, helped to bring in wounded men from No Man's Land."

Newspaper Cuttings

Midlands Chronicle 22nd December 1916
A Wednesbury Soldier killed.
Private J. Roberts lived at 15, Short Street, Wednesbury, belonging to the 1st/5th South Staffords, and was called up at the outbreak of war, on August 4th, 1914. He was killed in action on the 13th of October, 1915, in France. He was 23 years of age.