Born in 1894 in Norwich, Joseph was the son of Joseph and Minnie Cheney. The family moved from Norwich to London where Joseph served his time as an apprentice plate riveter in the yards along the Thames. By 1914 Joseph had moved north and was living at 80 Sherburn Street, Hull where he worked at Earle’s Shipyard. He was engaged to be married, but more pressing matters got in the way.
When Britain declared war on Germany thousands of young men flocked to enlist. Joseph was no different. He took the King’s Shilling on 22nd March 1915 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.
After serving in Egypt over winter 1915-16, the battalion arrived in France early in March taking up positions first at Englebelmer and later opposite the ruins of Serre. It was here Joseph met his end, killed in action on the 28th June 1916 when he was struck by the base of a shell during a retaliatory bombardment. That week saw millions of shells pound the German lines as British guns fired round after round ahead of what the Pals knew as ‘The Big Push’ and what we now refer to as The Battle of the Somme.
Joseph never witnessed the hell of that infamous first day. He had already been buried in what became Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 22 years old.
His fiancee died on 17th June 1918.