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Joseph Rossall was born in Preston in 1892 the son of George and Ann Rossall (nee Horn).

Joseph`s father George, was a native of Great Eccleston moving to Preston sometime in the 1870s where he met and married Ann at St. Marys RC Church on 5 November 1878.

Joseph had 6 siblings, Luke b.1878, John b.1881, Thomas b.1883, Mary Ann b.1885, George b.1890 and William b.1895 all born in Preston.

In the 1911 census, Joseph is still living at home with his parents together with youngest brother William at 34 Harrington Street, Preston and Joseph was working as a `van man` for a confectionery business.

In 1913 Joseph married May Mary Taylor in Preston and a year later they had a baby daughter (also named Mary May after her mother), baby Mary May died just 12 months later in 1915.

On the 18th June, 1915 Joseph enlisted in the Territorial Army in Preston, he attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was put into the 3/4th Battalion with the service number 4138, in 1917 he was given the service number 201554. At the time of his enlistment, his medical papers describe him as being 5`4”, weighing 133lbs and with a 35 inch chest.

On the 6th November, 1915 Joseph was appointed Lance Corporal.

In 1916 Joseph was sent to France arriving at Etaples on 26th December where he was then sent to join the 1/4th Bn.

On the 17th January, 1917 he spent five days `sick` in hospital, re-joining the battalion on 22nd January.

An entry dated 12th May, 1917 on his service record then states “reverted back to Private at own request”.

The 1/4th Battalion War Diary – 14th May to 18th May, 1917

“On the 14th we relieved the 1/4th Kings Own in the right sub-sector, POTIJZE. The sectors had been rearranged D Company had two Platoons in the front line and two in close support: A Company was in reserve and held MILL COTTS, GARDEN OF EDEN, PROWSE TRENCH and ST JAMES TRENCH. B and C Companies, in Brigade Reserve were billeted in houses on the POTIJZE ROAD.

On the 18th the enemy was very active with his artillery, the front line Company, D, calling for retaliation five times during the morning: we had one man killed and one wounded. A fighting patrol had gone out the previous night to try and capture an enemy party, and were supported by an artillery barrage, as usual, the enemy had withdrawn.

At 21:15 that evening the enemy placed a shrapnel, trench mortar and howitzer barrage on our front line first, then our support line and an SOS being sent up by the Battalion on our left was repeated by us; as soon as the barrage started our front Company stood to and fired rapid over the parapet. No one in the front line saw the enemy leave his trenches, but two snipers, who had been out in NO MANS LAND all day and were waiting for it to get dark to come in, saw the enemy place a machine gun on his parapet, the team of which then proceeded to knock it out; they also saw Huns entering the trenches of the Battalion on our left, our trenches were badly damaged in places, one man was killed, one missing, and Second Lieutenant Francis and four men wounded. B Company relieved D that evening”.

Joseph Rossall`s Casualty Form confirms he was in `D` Company and that he was killed in action. The above war diary entry refers to events from 14th – 18th May and Joseph`s date of death is recorded as 19th May, 1917.

Josephs wife May received a pension of 13s 9d with effect from 10th December, 1917.

Private Joseph Rossall is buried with honour at Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, Belgium.


Rank: Private
Service No: 201554
Date of Death: 19/05/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

May signed for her late husband’s British War and Victory Medals on 9th July, 1921.

Side note: Four of Josephs brothers also served in WW1:-

4150 Private Luke Rossall enlisted 22 June, 1915 with the Loyal North Lancs but was discharged in December, 1915 due to an old injury to one of his eyeballs.

282155 Private Thomas Rossall who was living in Birmingham enlisted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 29 July, 1915 and was later discharged on 19th September, 1918 due to Gun Shot Wounds to chest, right arm and left elbow.

57555 Rifleman George Rossall first enlisted on 10th September, 1914 at Preston and was put in the 10th Battalion. He was discharged on 24th October, 1914 as “not likely to become an efficient soldier” it was noted that he was suffering from `knock knee`. George re-enlisted again on 19th July, 1916 and ended up as a Rifleman in the West Yorkshire Regiment. At some point he was taken prisoner but sadly died from influenza on 22nd November, 1918 and was buried in Berlin South Western Cemetery, Germany.

13091 William Rossall A.M. RAF – William survived the war.

Joseph and George Rossall are also commemorated on the St. Walburges RC Church War Memorial in Preston, Lancashire.

This article was written and researched by Janet Davis, thank you once again



Janet Davis
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