Joseph William Johnson Private 4530 - 1st/6th North Stafford Regiment Killed in action on Saturday 1st July 1916 age 27 No known grave but is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Joseph William Johnson was born in Gnosall in the 3 rd  quarter of 1889 to Thomas Johnson, a Gnosall-born labourer of nearly 50, and Sarah nee Eccles, also from Gnosall and about 41. Thomas and Sarah were married at St. Lawrence Church on 19 November 1866. Joseph was baptised at St Lawrence on 22 nd  September 1889; the parents were said to live at Broadhill. From 1891 till 1911, the family continued at Broadhill. Joseph had three older sisters and two older brothers who gradually left home. Joseph’s father Thomas was working first as a shepherd, then as a farmer and agricultural labourer on his own account, and in 1911 he was described as a small farmer. Thomas and Sarah had had ten children, of whom one died. By 1911, an older sister and older brother Thomas were still at home, and Joseph and his brother Thomas were working as farm labourers. According to a family member, Joseph was almost certainly the father of a son born to 20-year-old Mary Ann Barnard from Audmore. Joseph William Johnson Barnard was born on 4 th  January 1913 and baptised in Gnosall on 16 th  February 1913. He was brought up by the Johnson family, and survived to 1993. Joseph William Johnson enlisted at Stafford into the 1st/6th North Stafford Regiment, as Private 4530. He was killed in action on Saturday 1st July 1916 age 27, at Gommécourt, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France and was awarded the Victory and British Medals. He has no known grave but is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, Pier and Face 14 B and 14 C. The official record states: “Son of Thomas and Sarah Johnson, of Church Aston, Newport, Salop”, so they presumably had moved from Broadhill. Historical Information On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter. In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918. The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.
Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.