Private Joseph Edwin Vernon
31753 4th Bn., Yorkshire Regiment who died on 27 May 1918
Joseph Edwin Vernon was born in 1879, the son of Thomas and Harriet (nee Findley). His father was a framework knitter and in 1881 Joseph was living, together with five sisters and two brothers, in Moat Street, Wigston. Joseph’s siblings were, Louisa (1862), Ellen (1864), John (1867), Alonzo (1868), Charlotte (1875), Annie (1877), Edith (1878)
By 1887 the family had moved to 10 North Street. Sadly, both of Joseph’s parents died in 1889 and he and his younger brother William (1882) moved to Oadby to live with their maternal aunt and uncle, Henry and Harriet Findley, at 5 Oadby Street.
Moat Street, Wigston Magna was the Vernon family home in the 1880s. Photograph courtesy of the Wigston Historical Society
By 1901, Joseph’s aunt and uncle had also died and Joseph, now 22 and his brother William lived with their cousins Susan and Alice Findley at 5 Regent Street, Oadby. They had not actually moved house but in the 10 years since the previous census, Oadby Street had been renamed Regent Street.
Regent Street, Oadby
Joseph married Frances Henman in July 1903 and in 1911 they were living at 6 Cross Street with their three children Frances May (1904), Dorothy (1905) and Jack (1908). Joseph was employed as a shoe hand in the lasting department. A fourth child, Edwin Ernest, was born in 1913.
Joseph’s service record no longer exists, but his service number of 30438 would suggest he attested in 1917 joining the Leicestershire Regiment, aged 37. He was living at 4 Beaumont Street at this time. At some point Joseph transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment.
The Oadby Soldiers and Sailors list of serving men shows Joseph as a member of No.2 Company, 16th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Labour Battalion). However by the time of his death Joseph was serving in the 4th Battalion. Some records have his place of birth as Batley, possibly the result of a transcription error with the Yorkshire town being recorded instead of Oadby.
Map showing the German advance westwards (in red) across the River Aisne between 21 May and 6 August 1918
During the German Spring Offensive of 1918 the 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment was one of a large number of troops involved in the Third Battle of the Aisne. As part of the 50th Division the 4th Yorks were moved from reserve positions at Beaurieux on the night of the 26 May to an area just north of Craonne. There they faced the massed Divisions of the German Seventh Army. When the Germans attacked at dawn on the morning of the 27 May the Battalion was heavily shelled and then outflanked. The Divisional War Diary records: ‘27 May. Intense bombardment commenced along the whole front. After heavy fighting the remnant of the Division were driven back over the Aisne…..28 May. Rear guard action continued. V. few men left. Remnant of 50 Div taken over by 8 Div.’
87 men from the 4th Yorks died on 27 May including Private Joseph Vernon.
Joseph has no known grave but is Remembered with Honour on the Soissons Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Oadby War memorial and on the Oadby Senior School Memorial
Joseph Vernon’s name on the Soissons Memorial
Oadby Council Senior School Memorial
Other Family Members
Joseph’s brother William of Glen Cottages, Oadby was discharged as medically unfit in March 1916 after a year and 177 days of service with the 4th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment.
In 1926, Joseph’s widow Frances married John W Peabody. In 1939 they were living at 4 Stoughton Road, Oadby. Also with them was Ernest Edwin, now a solicitor’s clerk and Joseph and Frances’ daughter Dorothy Wilson.
Joseph’s son Jack saw service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and died in 1942. He is also commemorated on the Oadby war memorial.