Today we remember Bourne man Harold Leonard Joyce who was killed on this day (17th April) 1918, whilst serving as a Private with the 2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
Harold was born in the autumn of 1896 in the Bourne district and was the son of Frederick George Joyce, born in Boston in 1855 and his wife Selina Bemrose, born in Sloothby (near Alford) in 1879.
The couple were married on the 3rd July 1879 in Willoughby, near Alford, Lincolnshire, where they lived for a further year and where their first child was born.
Following this they moved to Boston, living there for about 7 years before moving to Bourne.
* Annie May Joyce, 1880, Alford
* William Henry Joyce, 1881, Boston
* Louisa Emily Joyce, 1884, Boston
* Frederick Arthur Joyce, 1887, Boston (Died 1887)
* Alfred George Joyce, 1888, Bourne
* John Bertie Joyce, 1889, Bourne
* Flora Belle Joyce
* Harold Leonard Joyce, 1896, Bourne
* Arthur Charles Storey Joyce, 1898, Bourne
* Selina Florence (Lilly Joyce) 1901, Bourne
* The 1911 census gives 10 children, 1 having died. A search through birth registers of Bourne does not give any clues.
A five year old Harold can be found living with his parents in Bedehouse Bank in Bourne on the 1901 census, but ten years later at the age of 15 he is living with the Myers family in Tongue End and working as a labourer.
As with 60% of the official military records from the war it os most likely that Harold’s records were destroyed in a warehouse fire in the blitz. We can piece together some of his movements from other official documents such as pension records and medial rolls but these do not give exact dates.
Harold enlisted in Bourne and possibly after basic training was originally posted to the 2/4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
He ended up serving with the 2/5th battalion although it is not known if hew was transferred immediately when laded in France as in some cases or as is sometimes that case this can be because he was wounded and after convalescence was then posted to a Battalion that was more in need of replacements.
The only thing we do know for certain is that Harold was with the 2/5th Battalion for his final days. We can take up the story from the Battalion Diary of the battle they were involved in to stem the flow of the enemy spring offensive during April 1918.
The 2/5th Battalion had spent March in the area south east of Arras, at Bullecourt, before being moved to Watou west of Poperinge, Belgium, an area used for Battalions moving up to the Ypres salient.
After 4 day of refit the Battalion preceded on the 4th April into the line on the Zonnebeke sector of the salient.
After 5 days in the line near Zonnebeke the Battalion was moved into reserve at St Jean for 2 further days before being entrained for Mont des Cats and then Marched to Locre on the 14th April.
14th April 1918 – Mont des Cats
2am -Mont Des Cats
Battalion marched to Locre (M.23C sheet 28) where it was temporarily accommodated in huts at 4:50 am.
11am – Locre
Battalion moved out along the Locre – Dranoutre road to about M.29 see where it cleared the road and awaited orders. The CEO and company commanders went forward to reconnoitre the reserve line south of Dranoutre.
Orders were received to relieve the 88th infantry Brigade in the line on Ravelsburg Ridge in S.16 and 17, 22 and 23 Company commanders went off at once to recognise the line and battalion moved off about 10:30 pm. The 88th infantry Brigade had only occupied their positions for 14 hours and as this Battalion was relieving three regiments relief was not completed until 5:30 am.
15th April 1918 – Bailleul
5.30am – Bailleul
Battalion took over as follows having all their companies holding line, 4 advance posts – 1 from each company. These posts were dug in on the forward slopes along the line S.2 1D.I want to S.23B.0.0 distributed at intervals of about 400 feet. They were age garrisoned by one platoon.
Each company held a part of the support line with three platoons this line was dug on the reverse flow of the Ravelsburg ridge along the line S.21.D.0.5 to S.23.A.7.5.
Battalion HQ in a trench at S.16.C.0.7
6.0 am – Bailleul
To hostile patrols about 20 strong advanced against our posts in S.22.D they were driven off leaving three prisoners in our hands and 17 dead and wounded in front of our post.
A hostile patrol advanced against the machine-gun post in S.20 to say they were counter-attacked and driven off leaving 12 prisoners in our hands. During the morning I deserters came over to our lines.
For an account of the operation during the remainder of the day see special appendix attached.
Appendix – An account of the part taken by the 2/5th Bn Lincolnshire Rgt in operations East of Bailleul on 15th April 1918.
15th April 1918
At this hour the battalion was disposed as previously described in the war diary to which this account form is in appendix. This position has been taken up during the night 14th and 15th of April 1918.
A heavy bombardment of our position commenced at 12 noon and continued until 2:30 pm when it changed to a barrage falling along the line of that of the units on our right and left.
The enemy delivered an attack against the fourth Lincoln regiment on our left but their line remained remained intact.
Enemy attack developed against our right company in S.21.D this attack was repulsed by our lewis gun and rifle fire.
Left the company commander reported the enemy on the ridge on his immediate left and that the forthcoming concert fallen back from the ridge. They formed a defences flank facing east still keeping in touch with our left company (D company).
At 5:25 pm the line of the 4th Lincoln Regiment in S.16.B and 17.A withdrew to the railway cutting in S.17.A, 11c, 16b and 16a.
The enemy forced his way over the back of the hill at S.16 D breaking the line of the 4th Lincoln and getting behind the left flank of our Battalion including one for platoon of the 4th Lincolns which had continuously maintained touch with our left.
At the same time a frontal attack developed along our front. The left company was last seen in its original position fighting at very close quarters with the enemy. The Lewis gun of this company fired to the last, the enemy advancing in close formations at very short range the remaining three companies on the ridge came under very heavy machine gun fire from the left where the enemy had gained a footing on the ridge.
These companies have heavy casualties and swung round to form a flank facing east. They were gradually driven back on to a line taken up by the 176 infantry Brigade north-east of Bailleul.
Patrols were sent out from Battalion HQ to get in touch with the companies in Front but found only the enemy. To conform with the movements of the 4th Lincoln Regiment battalion headquarters withdrew to S.10.C.7.2 where two companies of the 9th Northumberland Fusiliers were found to be holding a line.
The Battalion HQ personnel were organised into five units and extended the line of the Fusiliers to the right from S.10.C.3.2 to S.10.C.7.2. The enemy attack was checked here.
During the night the enemy by means of patrols push forward on finding that out right flank was open. Several patrols were sent out to try and establish touch with our troops on the right but without success. In order to prevent the enemy penetrating this gap to platoons of the ninth Northumberland Fusiliers were brought up and the line extended some 500 feet to the north-west to S.9.D.90.75.
This was the position when orders were received from Brigade to withdraw to Locre.
The following casualties were sustained:
Killed. Lieut Colnel H B Roffey D.S.O
Wounded, 2/Lieut Dickinson
Missing, 2/Lieut W G Fenton, 2/Lieut J C Myers.
Other ranks –
Killed, Wounded and Missing, 352
Report signed by Major Commanding 2/5 Lincoln Rgt.
16th April 1918 – Bailleul
Battalion HQ withdrew from positions at S.10.C and D and moved to Locre where they were joined by details from companies who withdrew to Bailleul. Battalion was accommodated in huts at M.17.C.2.2and rested all day.
17th April 1918 – Locre
Italian was amalgamated with fourth Lincoln regiment and the composite battalion then formed was known as major homes as battalion after commander of fourth Lincolns. The 77th Brigade with details attached was known as General Jameses force.
Battalion moved up to position of readiness for counter-attack or support to front line in area M.29.a and c. According to orders companies were dug in, in and about the wood in M.29.c but heavy enemy shelling forced the evacuation of the wood. Companies then dug in in narrow slots in M.29.a. 2/Lieut J. Fisher was killed and 2/Lieut V du Plergny seriously wounded subsequently dying at the casualty clearing station. 15 other ranks were killed and wounded Battalion remained in position all day.
Harold was wounded with a gun shot wound in the left thigh, in part of the actions some time over the report in the diary, most likely on the 15th April. He then would have been moved via a casualty clearing station to hospitals away from the front. It is in an hospital close to Calais where unfortunately he died of wounds on the 17th April 1918.
* Grantham Journal Staurday 27th April 1918
* NEWS OF BOURNE BOYS – Mr and Mrs Joyce of Bedehouse Bank, have received information that their son, Pte. H. L Joyce, Lincoln Regt., died in hospital in France, from gunshot wounds in the left thigh. Mr and Mrs J. Copper of Manning road, have had all the letters of thieir son Leslie, returned marked “no address known.” They have not yet had official notice that he is missing, although one of the letters was marked to that effect. Private Martin E. Barnes, a native of Bourne, attached to the Notts. and Derby Regiment, has been missing since March 21st. The notification came to Pte Barnes’ sister, Mrs F Hinson of Willoughby Road. Pte Wm Jackson son of Mr and Mrs Wm Jackson of Eastgate, has been taken prisoner. He is unwounded. This is the second son of Mr and Mrs Jackson who is now a prisoner of war, whilst a third and younger son was killed in action some months ago. Mrs Smallman of Elm-terrace has received official notification that her husband, Pte. E. Smallson is missing. Prior to his joining the Forces, Pte. Smallson was in the employ of Messrs. W.H. Smith and Son at their Bourne bookstall.
A field account of June 1918 tells us that Harold died of wounds on the 17th April 1918 in France whilst serving with the 2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. His effects being left to his father who received an authorised amount of £10/17/5 owed to his son.
The grave report from. August 1918 lists Harold’s grave as Plot 11, Row A Grave 5, buried with Pte Woodward of the King’s Liverpool Regiment who died on the 18th April. The family had an extra inscription added to the standard grave marker “Gone from us but not forgotten. Never shall your memory fade”. This was requested by Mrs Selina Joyce, Bede House Bank, Bourne.
Wimereaux cemetery is near the coast outside of calais and is in light soil hence the grave are set laid down, two per plot.
Wimereaux is quite a well visited cemetery as it also contains the Grave of Lieut-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Physcian and the author of the poem, In Flanders Fields.
CWGC – In memory of Private Harold Leonard Joyce, 203706, 2nd/5th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 17 April 1918 Age 21. Son of Fred and Selina Joyce, of Bourne, Lincolnshire. Remembered with honour, Wimereux Communal Cemetery