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Monday, 31 July 2017

Joseph Titheridge died 31 July 1917 – “He died for Freedom and Honor”

JosephTitheridges's name
insribed on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres



On 31st July 1917 Joseph Titheridge lost his life in the World War 1 battlefield in the Third Battle of Ypres known as Passchendaele.  



Let us remember him and the sacrifice he made.


This is his story.



Joseph Titheridge’s family

Joseph Titheridge was born in the Edmonton district of London to George Titheridge and Georgina Hanniball.  He was the six times great grandchild of Ann Quallat and John Titheridge.  Joseph was one of 10 children born to George and Georgina two of which had died in childhood.  The children were:

  • Ruth (1883 – 1971)
  • George David (1884 - 1885) died age 1
  • Samuel (1885 - 1957) married Maud Clifford
  • Mary (1886 - ?) married Victor Callick
  • Lily (1888 - ?) married Albert Boorman
  • Joseph (1889- 1917)
  • William Henry (1892 -1951) married Emma Masters
  • Daisy (1895 - ?)married Frederick Warren
  • Rose (1897 – 1904) died age 7
  • Ernest (1900 -1976) married Elsie Judge

Joining 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

Joseph joined up in October 1914 joining the 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, his regimental number was 4739.  The 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment were formed at Chichester in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’'s Army.  Initial volunteers were from all over Sussex.  The battalion was under strength when it arrived in Colchester in October 1914 so further men were recruited from the London area (hence Joseph ended up in the Sussex Regiment).  On 4th February 1915 it became the Pioneer Battalion of 18th Eastern Division, a role it would keep for the rest of the war.  Pioneers acted as a compromise between infantry and engineers.  Ordinary infantry training was kept up, as pioneers were liable to be used as infantry when the need arose.  The main work of the pioneers was in construction and maintaining the trenches, making and repairing roads and construction of light railways.  This work was often in the front line, usually at night and consequently under shell and sniper fire.

French Battlefields

In May 1915 the 8th Battalion moved to Salisbury Plain and then crossed to France on 24th July 1915 landing at Boulogne.  The 8th Battalion moved to the Somme front, and took over trenches in the Mametz-Montauban sector.  They remained in this quiet sector until the Battle of the Somme taking part in the attack on Montauban on 1st July 1916.  The battalion was engaged in various actions during the Battles of the Somme between July 1916 and early 1917 these included Capture of Trones Wood; The Battle of Delville Wood; The Battle of Thiepval Ridge; The Battle of the Ancre Heights; Capture of Schwaben Redoubt and Capture of Regina Trench.

The battalion stayed on the Somme until the Spring of 1917, when it moved to the Arras front.  Here it took part in the fighting on the Hindenburg Line at Héninel, and at Chérisy on 3rd May 1917.

Belgium Battlefields

The 8th battalion Royal Sussex Regiment then moved to Flanders, to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres known as Passchendaele at the end of July 1917.  They were attached to the 53rd Brigade 18th Eastern division.  General Haig's primary objective was to dislodge the Germans from their dominant positions on the high ground near the Belgium town of Ypres, Haig then envisaged an advance on Belgian coastal ports from where German U-boats threatened Allied shipping. The Third Battle of Ypres was a series of actions that were fought from 31 July to 6 November 1917, with about 275,000 allied troops and 220,000 Germans dying in the battle. The campaign won the allied forces only small gains.

On 31 July, after a fortnight's intense bombardment of German positions, nine divisions of the Fifth Army assaulted the high ground to the north-east of Ypres, and made good progress across Pilckem Ridge, but by late afternoon German counter-attacks had regained much ground and wet weather had set in.  Ceaseless unseasonal rain in the following days turned the shell-damaged ground into a quagmire, severely hampering the movement of advancing men, the relocating of artillery, and the carrying of casualties and supplies.

Killed in Action at Pilckem Ridge

The 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment fought along the Menin Road in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917 on the first day of the third battle of Ypres.  It was here that Joseph was killed in action.  Reading the war diary for the battalion it clear that they were under heavy attack from the German guns.  At the end of the day the diary lists the wounded and dead, there were 45 wounded 3 dead.  Unusually this war diary lists the name of every soldier wounded and killed whatever their rank (usually the officers are named and the men are just numbers of casualties).

Private Joseph Titheridge has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium.  His name is on panel 20. The monument list the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defence of the Ypres Salient in WW1.

To see pictures of the Menin Gate Memorial see the link below

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/91800/YPRES%20(MENIN%20GATE)%20MEMORIAL

Joseph was awarded postumeously the Victory Medal, British Medal, 1915 Star Medal.

Death Plaque

In 1916 the British Government decided to create a memorial for the next of kin of men who had died.  This bore  Britannia on it (symobolising British imperial power and unity), with Poseidon’s trident (symbolising British naval dominance) and a laurel wreath (symbolising victory).  Each bronze plaque was inidividually cast with the soldier's name in a rectangluar box, they were nicknamed “Death Plaque “.  It was inscribed with the words "He died for Freedom and Honor”.  Joseph’s parents, like all next of king, received a Death Plaque and a scroll.  A picture of this is below (although it is no longer in the family).  

Joseph Titheridge's Death Plaque and Memorial Scroll
Reproduced by kind permission of John Tidridge
Cap badge of the Royal Sussex Regiment























A poem of Remembrance   -    In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915




In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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