Private 16233 Joseph Whitehouse

Whitehouse Joseph 96 419x600Whitehouse Joseph 96 407x600
Photograph courtesy John and Wendy Jones.

Killed in Action on Thursday, 25th October 1917, age 38.
Buried in Grave XI. H. 5. at Hooge Crater Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

'B' Company of 1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 91st Brigade of 7th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed Balkans, 11th September 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. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/459628/

Genealogical Data

Marriage of Joseph Whitehouse and Elizabeth Attwell registered June quarter 1900 in Dudley.

1901 Census
3 Horse Shoe Row, Tipton, Staffs.
Head of household Job Langford (29, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Margaret (26, born Tipton), and his brother-in-law and family:
Joseph Whitehouse (22, General Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Lizzie (19, born Tipton), and their son: John (3 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
6 Court 6 House, Park Lane West, Tipton, Staffs. (This was known as Dog Yard)
Joseph Whitehouse (32, Underground Miner, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (29, born Tipton), and their 3 surviving children of 5: Elizabeth (7, at School, born Tipton), Maria (3, born Tipton), and Charlotte (1, born Tipton).

Joseph and Elizabeth's youngest child, Charlotte, died in 1911; they had 3 further children: Joseph born in 1912, George Henry born in 1913, and Florence born 4th August 1915. Florence's son, John, along with his wife Wendy and friends, still visit Joseph's grave at Hooge.

Personal Data

Joseph first served in Gallipoli with the 7th Battalion, South Staffs, landing on the 11th September 1915. It is likely that his transfer to the 1st Battalion would have been after he had recovered from an injury.

Joseph's widow, Elizabeth, received his outstanding army pay and allowances of £6/9/8d (6 pounds, 9 shillings and 8 pence) in November 1918. His War Gratuity of £13/10/0d (13 pounds and 10 shillings) was paid in December 1919 to his widow Elizabeth who by this time was Elizabeth Turner, having married Abraham Turner in June quarter 1919. The War Gratuity amount suggests that Joseph had enlisted in October 1914.

Joseph was initially buried near to 'Tower Hamlets' to the south of the Menin Road, this was to be the jumping-off location for the attack by the 1st South Staffs on 26th October 1917. In June 1919 Joseph's remains were exhumed and re-buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery on the Menin Road. His grave is still visited by his grandson John with his wife Wendy, and their friends of Tipton's British Legion bikers contingent; they visited on the centenary of his death, October 25th 2017.

Action resulting in his death

The Second Battle of Passchendaele commenced on the 26th October 1917, this was the muddy conclusion to the Third Ypres campaign which had commenced on 31st July 1917. Joseph was killed on 25th October 1917 whilst taking part in the preparations for the attack. 8 men of the South Staffs were killed on the 25th October.

The attack by 7th Division, which included 1st South Staffs, was intended as a diversionary attack to prevent German reserves being moved north to the attack by the Canadians. In summary, strong German pillboxes with machine-guns held up the attack which could not keep pace with the covering barrage, this caused the troops to bunch and stopped well short of their objectives. An attempt to outflank the pillboxes failed and the brigade fell back to its assembly positions. On this day 114 men of the 1st South Staffs were killed.

From the 1st South Staffs WarDiary.
25th October 1917
Preparation for activity of 26th October.

26th October 1917:
Operation orders:
X Corps are to co-operate with the main attack further north, by attacking Gheluvelt and Polderhoek Wood. The role of the 7th Division: to capture Gheluvelt, some ground along Zandvoorde spur, and so secure Tower Hamlets ridge.

Operations narrative:
Battalion formed up without incident, in spite of the moon. At zero, there was heavy enemy machine gun fire and a medium barrage on the whole ridge, especially severe on Battalion HQ. "C" Company on left progressed, with heavy casualties, until 50 yards from Berry Cotts. There they encountered very strong opposition using stick bombs. The Company were swept by machine guns from Berry Cotts and Lewis House. Mud had rendered rifles and Lewis guns useless.
"C" Company strength was down to 1 officer and about 20 other ranks, who lay out in shell holes.
"D" Company met very strong opposition from Hamp Farm and from cross-fire, they only got 50 yards from our front line.
"B" Company, protected a little by the lie of the ground, made more progress. They attacked the Mound, with heavy fighting. Both officers and all NCOs were killed or wounded. The remainder of the Company, now under a Corporal, carried their objective. The enemy retired, and positions were consolidated. Runners were sent back for reinforcements, but all became casualties. No message got to Battalion HQ. The remnants of "B" Company fell back after dusk, destroying one machine gun before doing so.
Casualties: Killed in action: 6 Officers & 38 other ranks. Wounded: 1 Officer & 136 other ranks. Missing: 1 Officer & 91 Other Ranks.

27th October 1917:
Relieved quietly by 20th Manchesters (at 2300 on 26th), marched back to camp at Vierstraat.

Newspaper Cuttings