Today we also commemorate the death of Bourne man, Joseph Morton of the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire regiment.

Joseph was born in early 1893 in Greetham Rutland, the son of Thomas Morton a farm labourer born in Pointon fen, and his wife Elizabeth Holmes born in Witham on the Hill.

Thomas and Elizabeth had a big family
Louisa Morton, 1885, Walcott
Robert Morton, 1886, Walcott
John William Morton, 1888, Walcott
Thomas Morton, 1889, Colsterworth
Sarah Ann Morton, 1891, Colsterworth
Joseph Morton, 1893, Greetham
Mary Elizabeth Morton, 1894, Greetham
Rachel Morton, 1896, Greetham
George Morton, 1898, Greetham
Plus 1 more who had died, whose name is unknown taken from the 1911 census

1901 Joseph was living with his parents in Shepherds Cottage, Greetham Rutland. By 1911 he was working as a Waggoner on a farm and living in Allington, Grantham, with the Burton family.

Joseph enlisted in Grantham but the date is unknown. As he was not eligible for the 1915 star it is possible that he enlisted in late 1915 or 1916.

The 8th Battalion Lincolnshire regiment has the following history, although the exact date of Joseph being posted to them is not known, we can look at where Joseph may have fought and certainly can see his last movements with the Battalion in 1917.

The Battalion trained at Grimsby during August 1914, and then at Halton Park in November. The Battalion moved into billets at Leighton Buzzard for the winter of 1914

In the spring of 1915 the Battalion moved to Halton Park Camp, Wendover and miniature rifle practice commenced. After completing the musketry course and a Review by Lord Kitchener, the Battalion moved to Witley Camp North, marching past His Majesty the King and Lord Kitchener, 12 August 1915.

All the Battalion commanders had been in retirement at the outbreak of war. Of the 21st Division in which the 8th Lincolnshire were attached only 14 officers had any previous experience in the Regular army.

The Battalion entrained for overseas service at Milford Station on 9 September 1915 leaving England the next day, sailing via Folkestone to Boulogne. For a week the Battalion stayed in the Watten area before receiving orders to move to the front.

A long and really arduous march took place which led the Battalion to the front and their first engagement of the war, The Battle of Loos.
During this battle an immediate gain was overturned and the highly inexperienced Battalion suffered tremendous losses.

In their first battle the 8th Battalion lost 22 of their 24 officers. 471 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing that being nearly half of all men in the Battalion.

The next major offensive for the Battalion was during the battle of the Somme in July 1916. The Battalion saw action in Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Fleurs-Courcelette, Morval, Gaudecourt, Transloy Ridge and eventually in November the Battle of The Ancre.

During the spring of 1917 the German Army retreated to the heavily fortified defensive Hindenburg Line.
When the retreat started the 21st Division were at Halloy spending a period out of the line in training exercises.

On the first of April the Battalion attended a voluntary Church Parade at Neuville Au Cornet before the following day being route marched to Denier for an attack on a trench system. Over the next days the Battalion moved to Avesnes-le-Conte, Givenchy-le-Noble, Lattre St Quentin before arriving at Duisans to withdraw equipment ready for their move onto the assembly area at Arras.

The Battalion entered the Battle of Arras at Battery Valley on the 9th April 1917 at 4pm digging in until 8pm.
The Battalion moved east and halted around midnight. At daybreak considerable enemy activity was observed round Monchy-le-Preux, also enemy troops and transport moving north east from Roeux. Artillery was asked for in both cases but there was no response.

At 9am the Battalion prepared to advance to its original objective as soon as the 111th brigade advanced on Monchy.

At 10:30 am Major Greatwood was informed that the 8th Somerset Light Infantry were in Monchy and that he must support them. They advanced to teh valley but in this advance they suffered heavy casualties as they had no artillery support.

At 4pm Major Greatwood issued orders to attack Monchy with the 8th Somerset on the right, Lincolns on the left. Again with no artillery support they had to dig in on high ground receiving orders to attack at dusk.
When they had already opened out for the attack, orders arrived from Brigade cancelling the attack and consolidate the position and patrols were posted in front.

By the end of the 10th April the Battalion had 9 officers wounded, 30 other ranks killed, 187 other ranks wounded and 8 missing.

On the 12th the Battalion were withdrawn from the line back initially to Arras and then a day later back to billets in Duisans and the on to Beaufort on the 14th April.

The Battalion did not return to Arras until called into reserve and bussed into the town on the 20th. Next going into the front line in the 23rd April.

It is reasonable to assume that Joseph Morton, official date of death 20th April, was one of the wounded or more likely missing on the 10th April. The fact that he has no know grave and is listed on the Arras Memorial would point to him being one of the missing.

In memory of Private Joseph Morton, 23649, 8th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 20 April 1917
Remembered with honour, Arras Memorial.