Driver Joseph BLACKWELL

Royal Field Artillery
(Formerly: Army Veterinary Corps)
189th Brigade, 'B' Battery
Service Number:
(Formerly: Se/12024, Army Veterinary Corps)
Date of Death:
22 November 1920 - Died at home
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
North-west part of Churchyard.

Personal History:

According to the Birth Index Joseph was born in the December quarter 1881 in Buxton, the son of William (Cab Proprietor) and Fanny [Frances] (née Hough) Blackwell. He had five older brothers and sisters, John (see Footnote below), Annie, Frank, William and Fanny, and  a younger brother, James, and a younger sister, Sivleler (Cissy). In 1891 (Census RG 12/2779) the family was living at 34 Fairfield Road, Buxton.

In the September quarter 1893 father, William, died and his wife continued the business. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3270) Joseph was living with his widowed mother and brother, James, 'Off Spring Gardens'. Buxton. Joseph was employed in the stables.
In the December quarter 1902 Joseph's mother died and on the 16th April 1906 he married Eliza Ann Thompson. She was originally from Melbourne, near Derby, but the wedding took place at St James' Church, Buxton. Five years later, the 1911 Census (RG14/21242) shows them living at 16 Dale Road, Buxton, with their son, Norman Edward, aged 3. Joseph was employed as a "Cellar Man" for a local 'Wine Merchant', Messrs. Denmans of Spring Gardens.

Before his death on the 22nd November 1920, Joseph was a keen member of the "Comrades of the Great War".
[N.B. The Comrades of The Great War were formed in 1917 as a non-political association to represent the rights
of ex-service men and women who had served or had been discharged from service during The Great War.
Comrades of The Great War was one of the original four ex-service associations that amalgamated on Sunday,
the 15th May 1921 to form The British Legion.]

Military History:
Joseph's Service papers have not survived, and his CWGC Records show that he served with the 189th Brigade, 'B' Battery, of Royal Field Artillery [RFA]. However, his Medal Index Card [MIC] indicates that he subsequently had been posted to the Army Veterinary Corps [AVC], serving as Se/12024. Although listed as 'Private' his trade was almost certainly 'horsekeeper' (a coachman in civilian life), as virtually all the men with the SE/ prefix followed that trade.

This is supported by an advert, dated 6th October 1915, for which Joseph would have been eminently suited:
'Recruiting has been re-opened for the Army Veterinary Corps. Candidates for enlistment must be men of steady character, who have been accustomed to horses, and who are able to ride. The age limits will be from 40 to 47 years, but suitable men under 40 years of age may also be accepted, provided that they are ineligible for combatant units. Pay will be at ordinary Army Veterinary Corps rates.'

As his MIC has no date for his entry into the War overseas, Joseph did not serve abroad until after the end of 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star Medal. Another man with a similar Service Number, i.e. SE/13260, enlisted on the 12th November 1915. AVC Service Numbers had reached just over 1000 by August 1915.  However the SE/ numbers had reached 12000+ in October 1915.

A number of AVC soldiers in the SE/11XXX and SE/12XXX range are buried in the eastern Mediterranean Theatre, but an equal number in the same numerical range are buried in France and Belgium. The most likely scenario, therefore, is that Joseph enlisted in the AVC in October 1915 and at some future date transferred to the Royal Field Artillery.

189th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery [RFA], arrived in France on the 4th May 1916 and was made of 4 batteries A, B, C and D. It was identified by its Roman numeral equivalent - 'CLXXXIX' - and was part of the 41st Division. Units of 41st Division moved to France between the 1st - 6th May 1916 and by the 8th May had concentrated between Hazebrouck and Bailleul. The 189th Brigade RFA left the Division in January 1917, but not before taking part in The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September 1916, and The Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1st -18th October 1916, phases of the Battles of the Somme.

After returning to Buxton after being demobilised, as stated above, Joseph was a keen member of the "Comrades of the Great War". He was taken ill in October 1920 and died on the 22nd November from heart failure after contracting pneumonia. He was buried in his local Churchyard, near to the family home in Fairfield.

· Joseph's brother, John Blackwell, also a Cab Driver, sent three sons to War: Pt. George William BLACKWELL, Northamptonshire Regiment,
   was killed in action on 16th July 1916, George's younger brother, Private John BLACKWELL, 16th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and
   Derby Regiment), was killed in action in late July 1917. Their younger brother, Pt. 79279 Alfred BLACKWELL, enlisted on the 5th September
   1916 and served with the Somerset Light Infantry.

· "Buxton, Burbage, Chelmorton, Harpur Hill, Peak Dale, King Sterndale and Wormhill REMEMBERED" - Keith Taylor [2014]
   ISBN 978-1-906789-99-2, p. 362

Commemorated on:
Because of the date of his death Joseph's name is not included in any of the Town and local Memorials.
Link to CWGC Record
Henry Cresswell's grave