JOE WRIGHT

Private 4547, 1st/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Killed in Action 4th July 1916 aged 21

No Known Grave Commemorated  Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Son of Albert and Florence Wright

Lived Robin Lane, Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike


Albert Wright, aged 21 and Florence Heighley, aged 20 married in 1894.  Albert had lived in Bower Lane, Florence was nearby in Heights, in the Kilpin Hill area of Heckmondwike.  Their son Joe was born in 1895.  By 1901 there were three other children: Tom, born 1898; Harry, 1899 and Annie, 1901.  The family lived in Robin Lane, Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike.  Joe and Tom were both Apprentice Machine Makers by 1911, but by that time Annie had died and there were two more children: Hilda, born 1905 and Cyril, 1909.

On 11 October 1915 Joe joined a Territorial Battalion, the 3rd/4th West Riding Regiment.  On enlistment in Bradford he was 20 years old, 5ft 3ins tall and described himself as a Cloth Finisher.  Because the Territorial status of the Battalion meant that its soldiers were not liable for service overseas, Joe signed a form in which he agreed to waive that restriction.  He was transferred to the 1st/4th Battalion on 20 April 1916 and left Southampton for Le Havre the following day.  After a short time at a base camp he joined his new battalion, which was in the area of the Somme near the River Ancre, on 15 May 1916.

The Battalion War Diary records on 3 July 1916 that: ‘Battalion relieves the 5th Batt West Yorkshire Regiment at Johnson’s Post, Thiepval Wood under heavy shell fire – the majority of the Batt being in the open.  Casualties 5 NCOs, 15 men’.  On 4 July 1916 the Diary continues: ‘very heavy shelling during the day – at 6.30am the 2nd South Lancs attacked Thiepval without success- the Battn provided carrying parties for ammunition and for stretcher bearing’. The Battalion suffered 42 casualties.  Joe was killed that day and his body was never found.  His platoon commander, Second Lieutenant Frank H Kelsall, wrote to Joe’s parents to say that: - ‘It is my unenviable task to inform you that he was killed this morning (July 4th) in action.  I am extremely grieved at this, for although he had not been with me very long, yet he was a lad of good promise.  His death was absolutely instantaneous, he being crushed in a dug-out, which was struck by a shell’.  Frank Kelsall later became a Captain and survived the war.  In 1919 Joe’s mother Florence completed the required form so that she could receive the War Gratuity of £3 and later, in 1921 his British War Medal and Victory Medal.
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Two of Joe’s brothers, Harry and Tom, both served in the forces and both survived, Harry, Private 3296, was in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (the Sherwood Foresters).

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