Private 13489 Joseph Wesson

Died of Wounds on Thursday, 17th February 1916, age 21.
Buried in Grave VIII.D.54. at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

8th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 51st Brigade of 17th Division.

Son of Samuel and Lizzie Wesson, of 109, Bloomfield Rd., Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 14th July 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. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/46370/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Joseph Samuel C. Wesson registered December quarter 1894 in Dudley.

1901 Census
1 Lorne Street, Coseley, Staffs.
Samuel Wesson (60, Iron Works Labourer, born Coseley), his wife Lizzie (38, Tailoress, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Samuel J. (7, born Tipton), William S. (4, born Tipton), and Hilda (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
109 Bloomfield Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Wesson (70, Stocktaker, born Coseley), his wife Lizzie (48, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Joseph (16, Plate Driller, born Tipton), William S. (14, Fender Fitter, born Tipton), and Hilda (12, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Joseph's brother, William Wesson, was killed in 1917.

After Joseph's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/0/6d (3 pounds and 6 pence); this was paid to his father, Samuel, in May 1916. His War Gratuity was £6/0/0d (6 pounds exactly), this was paid to his mother, Lizzie, in February 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Joseph had enlisted in approximately September 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 8th Battalion South Staffs was in 51st Brigade of 17th (Northern) Division. In early February 1916, the 17th Division returned to the front near St. Eloi, along the line south of the Ypres-Comines canal and railway. It included some captured ground on the north bank of the canal called The Bluff, this was higher as the material from the excavation of the canal had been built up. The area had been relatively quiet but the Germans now became very active. This included some heavy shelling, including gas, and mining.

In the afternoon of 14th February German infantry successfully attacked the British units holding The Bluff after a very heavy bombardment with shells and trench mortars, and blowing some mines. On the afternoon of the 14th, 51st Brigade held the left front including The Bluff. Half its men were in the trenches and the other half were held in reserve. On 15th February German artillery and rifle fire continued throughout the day. On 16th February a British counter-attack at 05.40am failed, it was March before The Bluff was re-taken.

Joseph Wesson is recorded as dying from wounds on 17th February, at one of the base hospitals in Boulogne. It is possible that he could have been wounded between the 13th-16th February, all trying days for the 8th South Staffs, but it could have been earlier. Joseph is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

If you require further detail:
War Diary 8th South Staffs

14th February
Bombardment by the enemy increased all day.
06.00 pm. 2 mines exploded by enemy. All communication to Companies gone.
06.15 pm. Enemy advancing against 'B' Company. 'A' Company has very severe casualties. Lt Porter reported killed.
07.15 pm. The Commanding Officer returns wounded.
07.30 pm. A slight lull, wounded evacuated.
08-11 pm. Enemy consolidating. Reported to have taken from right half of Trench 33 to Trench 29 inclusive, including The Bluff.
11.45 pm. Intense enemy bombardment.

February 15th
00.15 am. Heavy machine gun fire and rifle fire opened on our trenches.
00.35 am. Two orderlies despatched to firing line for news.
08.25 am. Estimated casualties 6 officers and 112 other ranks. Rest of the day very quiet. That evening British bombardment and counter-attack.

February 16th
12.05 am. The Dressing Station obtained a direct hit from an 8 inch shell. About 12 men, Lt. B.B. Gough and Lt. T.Y. Birrel killed. Orderly sent for another doctor and stretcher bearers.
03.30am. Final plans made for assault on enemy's stop when moon goes down.
05.40am. Attack on enemy stop launched under 2nd Lt. Elliott with 12 bombers and 7 bayonet men.
07.00am. Capt Smith reports attack failed. Attack was within an ace of succeeding but bombers were no close enough to 2nd Lt. Elliott to support him.

Battalion relieved by 7th BORDERS Regiment. Relief completed by 10.20pm.
Casualties: 4 Officers, 40 Other Ranks.

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