Private 7211 Joseph BEARD – ‘D’ Company
Burial: Cologne Southern Cemetery Grave: VI. E. 24. 41. Died: 16 April 1918 Age: 34
Personal: Joseph was born in St Thomas’ Parish, Stockport, Cheshire, on 21st July 1886, the son of Robert and Margaret (née Burns) Beard.
Robert died in the June quarter 1886. In 1891 (Census RG 12/2797) Joseph, his older sister, Rose Ann, and younger brother, Robert Henry, were living in the home of their uncle and aunt, James (Robert’s brother) and Elizabeth Anne (née Lawton) Beard, at 16 Crowther Street, Stockport.
On 30th March 1892 Joseph’s mother, Margaret, re-married Thomas Normansell, a widower, at All Saints’ Church, Heaton Norris, Cheshire. The Census of 1901 (RG 13/3279) shows them living at 34 Canal Street, Stockport, with Thomas’ children and grandchildren. The whereabouts of Margaret’s children with Robert has not been found.
The 1911 Census (RG 14/34980) has him stationed with the 2nd Battalion at The Ridge, Jubbalpore, India.
[N.B. Another soldier of the same name, Pte. 45701, was born about the same time and served at the same time. He was killed in action, in France, on 31st July 1917 – see Footnotes below.
Joseph was a professional soldier who had served 16 years with the Regiment. Following his death his official next of kin was his married sister, Mrs Kinsey, 38 Canal Street, Waterloo, Stockport. His mother, Margaret, was admitted to Parkside “County Lunacy Asylum” on 27th May 1909 and died on 7th September 1909.
At the end of the War, in February 1919, his next of kin, half brother, Fred Normansell, and sister, Rose Ann Kinsey, received the balance of his effects, divided equally between them. The total sum was £86 2s 1d (£86.10, equivalent to about £5700 today – 2023). In December 1919 they also shared his War Gratuity of £21 10s (£21.50 – about (£1400 today).
Military Service: Joseph enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Stockport. Currently his Army records are unavailable. However, his Service Number suggests he enlisted in August 1903, probably aged 18, on a 3 + 9 term of service (i.e. 3 years active service plus 9 years reserve), although the 1911 Census (see above) would dispute that.
His Medal Index Card shows that as a Regular Soldier Joseph embarked with the Battalion at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16 August 1914.
His official next of kin was his married sister, Mrs Kinsey, 38 Canal Street, Waterloo, Stockport, and, in July 1918, she received notification from the War Office of the circumstances of Joseph’s death as furnished by the German Government states: “The British prisoner of war, Joseph Beard, born on 21 July 1886, at Stockport, succumbed on 16 April to injuries received while making an attack on a sentry. Beard was engaged on the 15th at a work camp in unloading railway trucks. For some unexplained reason and notwithstanding repeated orders from the sentry, he refused to continue his work.
On the sentry proceeding to enforce his order with his rifle, the prisoner threatened him with his shovel. Being attacked for the third time, the sentry warded off the shovel at the same time striking Beard with the butt end of his rifle on the head, causing such wounds as resulted in the death of the deceased on the following day.”
The Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 26th July 1918, comments “The above is, of course, the German official version of the unfortunate affair and cannot well be questioned. It seems strange, however, that Private Beard, who was always a quiet and gentlemanly soldier should meet such a fate after serving so long a term in the enemy’s hands.”
After the War, an official Committee on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War undertook a series of interviews and reports concerning over 7000 prisoners, but Joseph’s case was not one of them and the facts of the incident are now lost to history.
Joseph’s ‘Register of Soldiers Effects‘ entry states that he died in “Hos.: Bochum“, (probably St. Joseph’s Hospital, Bochum) so it is logical to assume that he was kept as a prisoner of war in Bochum jail (right), where he received the injuries described above.
There were three other soldiers with the surname “Beard” (all brothers) of the Cheshire Regiment who joined the 1st Battalion. Though no family link has been found, it is hard to think they are not related to Joseph.
They also came from the Stockport area and all gave their lives. They were three of four sons of John (Labourer in Gas Works) and Mary (née Hough) Beard. Their only son to survive the War was the youngest, Frank, born in the June quarter 1893. [Two other sons, Harry and Thomas, died in infancy in 1890.]
Mary died in the March quarter 1897 and John re-married, Grace Pritchard on 26 February 1899. She had 6 sons from her first marriage to William Jones, who died in 1898 [see Footnotes below] Grace died on 10 December 1915 at 33 Richard St, Stockport. John continued to live in Stockport until his death in the March quarter 1940.
Private 45701 Joseph Beard: was posted to the 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
He enlisted on 4th September 1914, within a month of of war beginning, and was initially posted to the 5th Battalion in Omagh, Ireland. Joseph was posted to the BEF in France on 24 April 1917, joining the 6th Battalion on 6 June 1917.
Just 7 weeks later, on 31 July 1917, Joseph was reported missing, killed in action. In all he had spent 2 years 331 days with the Colours. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Joseph was born in 1886, i.e. baptised on 7 March 1886 at St Thomas’ Church, Stockport, Cheshire. In 1911 he was employed as a “Cotton Doubler“.
On 14 August 1905 Joseph had married Margaret Gannon (left) at St Mary’s Church, Heaton Norris, Stockport. They moved to live at 67 Sheffield Street, Heaton Norris, and had 5 children, Francis, born 17 January 1908, Margaret, b. 9 January 1910, Elizabeth, b. 25 December 1911, Joseph, b. 11 April 1914, and Mary, b. 29 September 1916.
In March 1918 Margaret received Joseph’s effects totalling £5 18s 1d (£5.90) and a further £13 10s (£13.50) War Gratuity in January 1920. (This total of £19.40 has a modern day equivalent of about £1300 – 2023.)
With effect from 8 April 1918 she was awarded a Pension of £1 11s 3d (£1.56) per week for herself and the children. (Equivalent in value to about £115 today). Margaret died in Stockport in the June quarter 1972.
Private 10103 John William Beard: was in the 1st Battalion, ‘D’ Company.
He enlisted in August 1914, within days of war being declared and he entered France on 7th October 1914 and was probably one of the 248 reinforcements to the Battalion days before the action at Violaines.
John was a stretcher bearer and was killed when well behind the lines on 21st September 1916 and initially buried near to where he fell. His grave was subsequently lost and he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. (Photo – right – Ed Hanley)
John had married Annie Louisa Brooks in the September quarter 1907. He lived with his wife and two children, John William, born 10th March 1911, and Mary Elizabeth, born 27th April 1913, at 29 Richard Street, Stockport.
In March 1917 she received his effects totalling £1 5s 6d (£1.27) and a further £9 War Gratuity in 1919. (This total of £10.27 has a modern day equivalent of about £700 – 2023.)
Private 13397 Walter Beard: their younger brother, followed his two brothers into the Regiment, enlisting on 2nd September 1914.
He originally joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion before entering France in March 1915 with the 6th Battalion. His time with the colours did not seem to have been too happy as he was under charge on numerous occasions mostly for being absent without leave or overstaying his leave periods.
He died of wounds on 2nd November 1917 whilst serving with the 6th Battalion and his place of burial, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, suggests being buried next to a military hospital facility (a Casualty Clearing Station). It cannot be known exactly when he was wounded, but soldiers did not spend long at a CCS.
Walter was married to Ethel (née MacCann ) with three children, Walter, born 12 July 1912, Ethel, b. 28 December 1913 and Mary, b. 30 July 1916. Ethel received a pension of £1 6s 3d (£1.31) per week for them, with effect from 15th August 1918.
In April 1918 she received his effects totalling £7 4s 9d (£7.24) and a further £14 10s (£14.50) War Gratuity in 1919. (This total of £21.74 has a modern day equivalent of about £1500 – 2023.) In the September quarter 1921 Ethel remarried, Herbert Hammond, and they had three more children. She died in Stockport in the March quarter 1966, aged 76.
Youngest son Spr. Frank Beard, served as a driver with the Royal Engineers, attached Signal Cavalry Corps, from 24 April 1915. In the December quarter 1917 he married Eleanor Quayle.
The boys’ father, Pte. 12403 John Beard, enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment on 13 January 1915, aged 44 years 235 days. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion on 18 October 1915, but discharged as “No longer physically fir for War Service” on 9 November 1916.
One of Grace’s sons from her marriage, Pte. P.W. 994 John Richard Jones, 18th Battalion, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, died of wounds on 27 October 1916.