Joseph Purcell

Royal Engineers

Personal Details

Born: In 1877 in Whitchurch, Shropshire and baptised, with his sister Lucy, on 8 July the same year in St. Alkmund’s Parish Church, Whitchurch.

Family: He was the youngest of nine children born to William Purcell, a gardener, and his wife Elizabeth. No marriage can be traced for Joseph.

Residence: At the time of his baptism, the family were living in Rosemary Lane, Whitchurch; by 1881 they had moved to Gig Lane, Whitchurch and by 1891 to 23 Leek Street, Wem, Shropshire. In 1911 he was boarding at 4 Station Road, Wem. In 1939 he was living at the Workhouse, Deermoss House, in Whitchurch where he died.

Employment: In 1901 he was a general labourer; in 1911 a maltster’s labourer and in 1939 a general labourer.

Died: In 1943 in Whitchurch, aged 67, and was buried on 24 December the same year in Whitchurch cemetery.


Military Details

Regiment: Royal Engineers (previously Royal Garrison Artillery and Royal Engineers) 

Rank: Pioneer

Service Number: WR26747 (previously 55530 and 274736)

Date of Enlistment: 2 March 1916

Date of Discharge: 5 May 1919

Reason for Discharge: Demobilisation

Medals and Awards

Joseph was awarded the Campaign Medals (British War Medal and Victory Medal)

Campaign Medals

Great War History Hub Whitchurch Shropshire Medals Front Image

The British War Medal (also known as 'Squeak') was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920. Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal (also known as 'Wilfred') was issued by each of the allies. It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory. Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of The 1914 Star or The 1914/1915 Star (also known as 'Pip') also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

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