ECCLES, Joseph Blackburn

265931, Lance Corporal, Joseph Blackburn ECCLES
Aged 20

1st Bucks Battalion, Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Killed in Action presumed on Wednesday, 23rd August 1916

Joseph Blackburn ECCLES was born in 1896 in Wooburn, Wycombe (Wycombe Q1-1896 3A:728), son of William and Elizabeth Caroline ECCLES (née BLACKBURN).

1901 census...Aged 5, he was at Glory Mill Lane with his father William ECCLES [38] paper works manager born in Withnell, Lancashire; his mother Elizabeth [36] born Withnell; sisters Amelia [12] born Withnell and Margaret [7] born Dover; brothers John [6] born Dover and William [1] born Wooburn; aunt Amelia Pohls [38] born Lancashire.

1911 census...Aged 15, he was at the East Anglian School, Bury St.Edmunds. His father was at Wooburn Green (recorded as married); brother Henry [24] assistant paper works manager, born Withnell; sister Amelia and Margaret Alice. Brother John was a boarder at West Lavington School, Wiltshire. His mother and brother William Percy were visiting John and Nellie DUNSTON at 2 Belmont Terrace, Terrace Road, Buxton, Derbyshire.

The photograph above is cropped from a group photo of prefects in 1912-1913 (Culford School- the first 100 years)

He enlisted in Wycombe, whilst resident in Aylesbury. The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry were known as the "Lightbobs". The war diary has :-
"23rd August The battalion was in Reserve trenches at Ovillers Post. At 9:15 am the Battn moved up into the line and took over trenches from the 1/6th GLOSTERS. The 1/4 OXFORD and BUCKS L.I. were on the right and the 3rd Bn WORCESTERS on the left.
At 3 pm "A" and "C" Coys of the 1st BUCKS BATTN attacked the enemy's front line at points 33, 31 and 79. "A" Coy attacked the trench between points 33 and 31( both inclusive) and "C" Coy from pt 31 to 79. A preliminary bombardment was carried out by our heavy guns and Stokes mortars and from 3 pm-3.5 pm our field guns placed a barrage on the objective. The attacking companies advanced in two waves but were unable to attain their objective owing to a heavy barrage of hostile field guns and machine guns. A slight advance was made however towards point 31 along a trench 19-31 and most of the trench 27-79 was occupied, a bomb stop being erected about 70 yds west of point 79.
Casualties were heavy - killed 2nd Lt EMG Bates; 2nd Lt WR Heath, and 24 O.R.-wounded 2d Lt M Bowen; 2nd Lt HM Breton (7th Manchesters attached 1st Bucks Btn) and 61 O.R. and missing 14 O.R.

CWGC figures show 40 killed, only 5 having known graves. Unfortunately the map has not been found to identify the points mentioned in the war diary. From the "First Buckinghamshire Battalion"
"Accordingly the Battalion took over the line from the 6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. A and C Companies were detailed for the attack, zero being fixed for 3.5 p.m., August 23. A bombardment was carried out by the Heavy Artillery from 1 p.m. to 2.45 p.m., which not only had no effect on the enemy trenches, but served merely to define the precise limits of the objective. At 8 p.m. an intense bombardment was put down for five minutes by the field guns, under cover of which the attack was launched. The barrage was good but a trifle short, as when it lifted the attacking troops had still some way to go, and the. enemy was manning his trench thickly, apparently very little affected by it and firing hard on our men. In addition the enemy barrage came down immediately after our own. The result was that casualties were heavy and progress almost impossible. 2/Lieut. E. G. H. Bates, who was commanding C Company, ran forward to try to rush the position, but was instantly killed. C.S.M. F. Smith endeavoured immediately afterwards to do the same thing, but was severely wounded. The only other officer in this company was also wounded.
On the left, A Company's fate was much the same, 2/Lieut. W. R. Heath being killed and Lieut. M. Bowen wounded. A few N.C.O.'s and men of C Company reached their objective on the extreme right, but all were at once either killed or wounded, Sergt. S. G. Bishop alone getting back. The remnants of the two companies had to lie out in No Man's Land until dark, during which time more became casualties through shell fire and sniping.
Very great gallantry was displayed by the officers and N.C.O.'s, but the losses in both companies were irreparable, coming on the heels of previous fighting, and in 2/Lieutenants Bates and Heath the Battalion lost two very able and gallant officers. No real gain resulted except that we captured almost the whole of a diagonal trench running from our centre to the enemy's right, and on the left advanced our bombstop some 50 yards.
Out of a total of four officers and 160 other ranks who actually went over the top, our casualties were : Officers - Killed. 2/Lieut. E. G. H. Bates. 2/Lieut. W. R. Heath. Wounded. Lieut. M. Bowen. 2/Lieut. H. M. Breton. Other ranks - Killed - 24 Wounded - Missing - 18 (all subsequently presumed killed).

Joseph Eccles is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial, pier/face 10A/10D

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details