Photograph courtesy of Joseph's great-nephew David Wilkinson, and niece Yvonne Beardmore.
Killed in Action on Saturday, 7th November 1914, age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 35 and 37 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 91st Brigade of 7th Division.
Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Rudge.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: West Bromwich.
First landed France & Flanders, 4th October 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the St. Paul's, Golds Hill Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/921008/
Joseph Rudge was born 21st December 1889 at 12 Waterloo Street East, Tipton. Second child, the first son, to Thomas and Sarah Rudge; the father's occupation is given as 'Forge Labourer'.
93 Regent Street, Castleford.
Joseph Rudge (31, Coal Miner, born Tividale), his wife Elizabeth (28, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Sarah (6, born Tipton), Thomas (4, born Castleford), and Joseph Rudge (1, born Tipton).
219 Dial Lane, Golds Hill, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Thomas Rudge (40, Labourer at Ironworks, born Tividale), his wife Elizabeth (38, born Tipton), and their 7 children: Sarah (16, Worker in Saucepan Factory, born Tipton), Thomas (14, Worker in Coach Spring Works, born Tipton), Joseph (11, born Tipton), Emma (8, born Tipton), Alice (6, born Tipton), Eliza May (3, born Tipton), and John (11 months, born Tipton).
197 Dial Lane, Golds Hill, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Thomas Rudge (50, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (47, born Dudley Port), and 6 of their 8 children: Joseph (21, Labourer in Slag Works, born Tipton), Emma (18, Blacker in Holloware Factory, born Tipton), Alice (16, Mounter in Holloware Factory, born Tipton), Elsie (13, born Tipton), John (11, born Tipton), and Mary (8, born West Bromwich).
It is likely that Joseph Rudge was a Special Reservist at the outbreak of war, and so would be called up for service immediately. The evidence for this is that Soldier's Effects shows him as initially being in the 3rd Battalion, South Staffs. He would have been allocated to the 1st Battalion, South Staffs, to make up their full complement before going abroad from the 4th October 1914.
After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £15/7/11d (15 pounds, 7 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his father, Thomas, in January and February 1916. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in July 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in the previous 12 months., which is obvious as he died within approximately 3 months of war being declared.
The 1st Bn. South Staffs returned to England from South Africa on 19th September 1914, and were attached to the 22nd Brigade of 7th Division. In early October 1914 they landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium and were almost immediately in the thick of the 1st Battle of Ypres.
The 1st South Staffords War Diary stops on 26th October 1914 as officer casualties had been so heavy. The remnants of the 1st South Staffords and 2nd Royal Welsh were temporarily merged on 31 October to create a composite battalion under Capt Vallentin.
Vicious fighting continued through the early days of November. Major-General T. Capper of the 7th Division, later wrote that "On November 7th, the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, although very weak after three weeks' fighting, made a gallant counter-attack in support of the First Corps, which was hard pressed, driving the enemy from his trenches and assisting in the capture of three machine guns. This effort at the end of three weeks' continual fighting - and with hardly any officers left, speaks eloquently for the bearing of this Battalion."
It was in this attack that Captain J. F. Vallentin was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross "for conspicuous bravery". Previously he had been wounded slightly and was in hospital at Ypres when on 6 November he heard that his Regiment was going into action that night. Determined to be with his comrades Captain Vallentin obtained permission to rejoin them. During the subsequent assault on the German trenches he was twice wounded, but pressed on until he was killed by five or six machine gun shots. The capture of the trenches owed much to the confidence held in his valiant leadership by his men. This was the first V.C. won by the South Staffordshire Regiment in the war, and the first one ever awarded to the 1st Battalion.
The diary of the 2nd Queen's, also of 22nd Brigade, gives some details of the action.
6th November 1914 Ypres
Brigade moved to Dickebusch, into Corps reserve. During the evening a message arrived from Lord Cavan, commanding 4th (Guards) Brigade, in need of assistance. The Brigade marched to Zillebeke, arriving at 2200, and lay in a field around Cavan's HQ.
7th November 1914
About 0500, the Brigade left the field, and went down the path through the woods. Overnight, a gun had been positioned to enfilade the German trench. However, the assistance it gave was slight. The Brigade was deployed, screened from the Germans by a slight rise in the ground. The attack was timed for 0615. There was a heavy mist, and it was only just becoming daylight. The Brigade advanced over the rise. German machine guns opened. The second wave came up, and advanced with the first. It was completely successful, and the enemy ran away. There was much shelling, but the Brigade line held on. The Brigade withdrew that night to the level crossing, where it bivouaced.
The 1st South Staffords were withdrawn just days before the end of the 1st Battle of Ypres. When it had landed in Belgium just a few weeks before it had been a force of 1,100 officers and men, now only 78 remained. Almost every officer had either been killed or wounded, and only one N.C.O., Company Sergeant Major F. Bytheway, was left to bring the men out of action.
After the action, like many of his comrades, Joseph was "Missing, presumed dead." He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.