JOE HARTLEY STEAD

Private 35130, 25th Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)

Died of Wounds 27th April 1917 aged 38

Buried Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France

Husband of Alice Stead

Lived 111, Brighton Street, Heckmondwike


Joe was born on 16th October 1877, the only son of Walter Stead, a Spinner, of Cleckheaton and Sarah Hartley, who had married at Birstall Parish Church. Joe was baptised on 28th November 1880 at Cleckheaton’s Providence Place Congregational Chapel. The family had been living at Scratt Lane, Gomersal in 1881 but then moved to Springfield Cottage, Heaton Street, Cleckheaton where Walter continued to be employed as a Worsted Overlooker in a mill. When Joe was thirteen, he started work as a Millhand, but later moved into the grocery trade, being employed in his grandfather, David Hartley’s, shop on the corner of Westgate and Old Robin in Cleckheaton.

In the summer of 1907 Joe married Alice Haley and they had moved to Heckmondwike by the 6th December 1909. Joe Hartley Stead was granted an ale licence as the tenant of a grocers and off-licence shop at 111, Brighton Street, Heckmondwike. They continued to live and work at the shop until the outbreak of war, they had no children. Joe joined the Heckmondwike Volunteer Training Corps, a voluntary home defence militia formed during WW1 for those over military age or in business which made it difficult for them to volunteer for the armed services. He won a shooting prize at Oakenshaw.

Eventually Joe was called up for military service and on December 20th 1916 he enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers at Heckmondwike, spending time training at Blyth, Northumberland, with the reserve battalion before going out to France early in March 1917. The ale licence was transferred into Alice’s name on 5th February 1917.

The 25th (2nd Tyneside Irish) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was a Pals Battalion, raised at Newcastle on the 9th of November 1914, by the Lord Mayor and City. In June 1915 the Battalion joined the 103rd Brigade, 34th Division at Ripon and after further training they moved to Salisbury Plain in late August for final training. They proceeded to France in January 1916 where the 34th Division concentrated at La Crosse, East of St Omer. They were in action during the Battles of the Somme, including the capture of Scots and Sausage Redoubts, the Battles of Bazentin Ridge and Pozieres Ridge. The 103rd Brigade and the Divisional Pioneers also saw action in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. In 1917 they fought in the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe and the the Battle of Arleux during the Arras Offensive.  Joe Hartley Stead would probably have joined the company at the time of the second battle of the Scarpe, fought near Arras, but the precise records are lost.

Joe had only been in France for six weeks, three weeks of which he had spent at the base, and had been in the trenches on two occasions, when he was wounded on the 26th April 1917 and admitted to hospital. Alice received a field postcard from the Chaplin W.S. Butler stating that he was in hospital, sick, but doing well.  However the post which arrived on Saturday 5th May brought two letters for Alice, a letter from the Chaplin to inform her that it had been necessary to amputate his right arm and right leg but the doctor expected him to make a full recovery, and a second, with official news from the Infantry Record Office in York, stating that her husband had died from his wounds in hospital on 27th April. The local newspaper, the Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spenborough Times, on Thursday May 10th 1917 carried Joe’s picture and the news of his death.

He is buried at  Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France, his grave reference is II. G. 36.

Joe had been a member of the Heckmondwike VTC, Back Lane WMC, Brighton Street WMC, an active member of the Tradesman's Cricket Club and also the Cleckheaton Liberal Club where flags were flown at half mast.  Joe’s widow, Alice, eventually remarried and remained at Brighton Street.
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Medals: Victory and British
Commemorated: Heckmondwike Green Park and Vellum Roll; Providence Place Chapel photographic memorial; Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918.


Info from: www.wartimememoriesproject.com/

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