Private 17581 Joseph Edward Sherwood

Sherwood Joseph 96 414x600

Killed in Action on Friday, 21st April 1916, age 21.
Buried in Grave I. B. 4. at Faubourg D'Amiens Cemetery, Arras, Pas De Calais, France.

1st Bn., Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 95th Brigade of 5th Division.
Formerly 12746 South Staffs Regiment and 9097 Royal Warwicks Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Harriet Sherwood, of 11 Henry Street, Greets Green, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: West Bromwich.

First landed France & Flanders, 3rd August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the St. Peter's, Greets Green 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/574962/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Joseph Edward Sherwood registered September quarter 1875 in West Bromwich.

Joseph Sherwood and Harriet Brookes married at St. John’s Church, Upper Church Lane, Tipton on Christmas Day, 25th December 1900.

1901 Census
31 Upper Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Sherwood (25, Boat Loader – Coal, born Tipton), his wife Harriet (22, born Tipton), also Joseph’s father Joseph Sherwood (49, Widower, Boat Loader – Coal, born Tipton), and Mary Ann Bennett (29, Visitor, born Tipton).

1911 Census
227 Dial Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Joseph Sherwood (34, Collier - Hewer, born Tipton), his wife Harriet (31, born Tipton), and their 5 surviving children of 6: Mary Elizabeth (11, born Summer Hill, Tipton), Annie (9, born Princes End), Alice (6, born Witton Lane), Emma (4, born Tipton) and William Thomas (7 months, born Shambles, Wednesbury).
Joseph and Harriett had a further 2 children: Joseph Edward born on 22nd February 1913, and Ethel born on 21st June 1916 (after her father’s death), Ethel died on 24th July 1917.

Personal Data

Joseph was determined to enlist and serve his country. Despite being rejected twice as being unfit, at the third attempt he successfully enlisted.

On 1st September 1914, he first enlisted in Wolverhampton as Private 12746 of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He stated that he was 33 years and 70 days old, in fact he was almost 40 years old. He was 5 feet 6½ inches tall, weighed 134 pounds and had a 37-inch chest. He had a dark complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair with physical development noted as good. He was employed as a collier, and was a married man (wife Harriet) with 6 children.

His initial training with the South Staffs in Jersey came to a conclusion on 29th September when Joseph was discharged “not likely to become an effective soldier”.

A second attempt was made on the 9th November 1914 when he enlisted in Birmingham as Private 9097 of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. A number of details were stated differently, possibly so his previous enlistment was less likely to be found. This time he stated that he was 34 years and 142 days old, still he was about 40 years old. Joseph was asked if he had ever been rejcted by the Military as unfit - forgetting the rejection on 29th September, he said "No". He was 5 feet 6½ inches tall, weighed 138 pounds and had a 36½ -inch chest. He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes, black hair; he had “blue scars” on his left shoulder. This time he stated his occupation as Boatman, and was a married man (wife Harriet) but with 5 children.

Again, his initial training came to an early conclusion on 21st December 1914 when Joseph was again discharged “not likely to become an effective soldier”. This time a reason was given: “Pyorrhoea (gum disease) and Rheumatism”.

A third attempt was made, this time successful. In approximately January 1915, he enlisted in Birmingham as Private 17581 of the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. This set of papers was amongst those destroyed during the blitz of WW2.

Joseph's widow, Harriet, was awarded a pension of £1/9/0d (1 pound and 9 shillings) per week from 6th November 1916. This increased to £1/11/3d (1 pound, 11 shillings and 3 pence) on the birth of Ethel in June 1916, and decreased to £1/2/9d (1 pound, 2 shillings and 9 pence) in July 1917 after Mary Elizabeth’s 16th birthday, and after Ethel’s death just a week after her first birthday.

On 17th March 1918, Harriet married Private 12489 Benjamin Smith, a soldier in the South Staffs Regiment. She was paid a Re-marriage Gratuity was £30/16/5d (30 pounds, 16 shillings and 5 pence) of which £26/3/5d was paid to Mrs Smith, and £4/13/0d invested in War Bond Certificates. The pension in respect of her children was held in abeyance while eligible for Separation Allowance, presumably in respect of new husband.

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/8/2d (1 pound, 8 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Harriett, in June 1916. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Harriett in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in approximately January 1915.

Action resulting in his death

In March 1916, 5th Division came into the front line to the North-East of Arras, between St.-Laurent-Blangy and the southern end of Vimy Ridge. 5th Divison included the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry (1/DCLI). They alternated between front line duties and times behind the line when often used as working parties. On the 16th April, the 1/DCLI Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. H.T. Cantam, was killed by a German aerial mine (minenwerfer).

The 1/DCLI relieved the 12th Gloucesters in K1 trench on 20th April. This is about 2.5 miles NNE of Arras, approximately at the current day position of the entrance road to the Arras-Roclincourt airfield.

The 1/DCLI War Diary for 21st April 1916 records:
“Very wet day. Quiet morning. Enemy had strafe on J.11 and Gridiron with mortars and rifle grenades during the afternoon. We replied with mortars, Stokes guns and artillery, also 2 West (?) guns. Very heavy rain during night.
Casualties 2 killed, 2 wounded.”

The 2 men killed were Pte. 17581 Joseph Edward Sherwood of Tipton, and Pte. 19383 Joseph Henry Beare of Helston, Cornwall. The two men are buried side-by-side in Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings