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Joseph Wiseman was born on 28 July 1895 in Tardy Gate. His father Robert (b. 1867 in Preston) was a railway engine driver; his mother Alice Agnes (née Hunt, b. 1861 in Preston) was previously a cotton weaver. Joseph was the youngest of three children: older brother William (b. 1892) was a railway engine cleaner, and sister Mary Jane (b. 1893) was a cotton winder. In 1911 the family lived at Victoria Terrace, Lostock Hall.

Joseph served in 1/5Bn. The 5th (later 1/5) Territorial Battalion was raised in August 1914 and left for France as part of 51st Division in February 1915. Joseph was not among this contingent though, as from his medal record we know that he was not awarded the 1915 Star. Following some considerable reorganisation at the end of 1915, the 1/5th was transferred to 55th (West Lancashire) Division and in January 1916 a new draught of 3 officers and 209 other ranks joined the Battalion at Vergies-sur-Somme, so it is likely that Joseph was among this contingent. The Battalion was engaged in some action in the trenches over the subsequent 6 months but the army’s main concern was the preparation for the Battle of the Somme. The Division was not engaged in the opening assaults, except to provide artillery support, but was called into action at the end of July at Guillemont. The 1/5Bn’s part in the attack on Guillemont on 8-9th August 1916 is described as follows in the regimental history:

“On the left, the 1/5th Loyal North Lancs., owing to the lateness of the hour at which orders were received; to the narrowness and crowded condition of the trenches, due to reliefs; and to the heavy casualties to officers, were unable to get into position until after 5am.  In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that the artillery barrage had lifted at 4.23am as arranged**, they made the most gallant assault.   They were, however, unable to reach the German trenches, and were compelled to fall back to their staring point. …  The attack was gallantly pressed, but it failed, and the days following were spent in improving the trenches and consolidating the ground won.” 

** the point being made here is that the Germans had at least ¾ hour between the end of the barrage and the start of the infantry attack in which to prepare their defences.

The Division also supported a French attack along the same front on 12 August but this also failed. On 15 August the Division was relieved and withdrew for rest and re-fit west of Abbeville. It did not return to action until the night of 4/5th September.

It is not clear what happened to Joseph. His record says he was killed in action but his battalion was not in action at the time of his death. He has no grave so his body was never found so one possible explanation is that he was killed during the action of August 8-15 but his death was not confirmed until the 26th. We’ll probably never know.


Joseph’s name on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11A)

Rank: Private
Service No: 7930
Date of Death: 26/08/1916
Regiment: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1/5th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 11 A.

Bill Brierley
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