RFA West Lancs Bdes
1115 GNR. J. MATTHEWS. R.F.A.
Joseph Matthews was born in the second quarter of 1898 in Everton, and baptised on 8 May at Everton St Peter. His father was James Matthews (b. 1873 in Liverpool), a dockyard porter. His mother was Frances Binnion (b. 1876 in Liverpool), a laundress. James and Frances were married in 1895 and they had two children: John James (b. 1895) and Joseph. Life was hard for the family. James had spent most of his life in the workhouse or other charitable institutions, and in 1911 he was back in the Toxteth Park workhouse. Joe was living with his mother at 72 China Street, Everton. China Street no longer exists but it ran parallel to and north of Prince Edwin Street. Joe was only 12 in 1911 and had not yet started work at the time of the Census. His attestation papers tell us he later got a job as a bottler for Beaufoy & C0. Beaufoy were distillers and bottlers of vinegar.
Joe enlisted in the Territorials on 13 January 1915. He was only 17, still 4 months short of his 18th birthday, although he claimed to be 19. He was assigned service number 1115. It seems he was first posted to A/276 but soon after transferred to D/276. He landed with 55th (West Lancashire) Division in France on 29 September 1915. 55th Division participated in the bombardment prior to the opening attack of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, but they moved south between 25-30 July to take their place in the line opposite Guillemont. In 1916, 55th Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) and in September 1916 they suffered severe losses especially at Guillemont. Guillemont was part of a string of fortified villages and farms, including Delville Wood and High Wood, where the Germans mounted their sternest defences against the British and French attacks. Joe was wounded, with a gun-shot wound to the abdomen, on 17 September 1916. He made it back to No. 2 General Hospital at Le Havre but he died there on 4 October 1916. He was still only 18 years old.
Service No: 1115
Date of Death: 04/10/1916
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "D" Bty. 276th Bde.
Grave Reference: Div. 3. J. 3.
Cemetery: STE. MARIE CEMETERY, LE HAVRE
Additional Information: Son of Mrs. F. Matthews, of 114 Prince Edwin Street, Liverpool.