14177 Private Joseph EAGLE (died 15 September 1916)

died 15 September 1916

Ian Valentine and research by Mary Norris

Bulls Road Cemetery, Somme, France
Photo from Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[Best match from one of two “Eagle. J”. in CWGC records].  14177 Private Joseph Eagle was born Elmstead Market Apr-Jun 1889, youngest son of William (Ag. Lab.) & Sarah Eagle.  1901 family living Brook Street.  1911 living in Park Road.  Joseph a ‘Labourer Galvanising in a Shipyard’.  Served in 12th Bn. East Surrey Regiment. Died 15 September 1916.  Buried Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers .  Named on Wivenhoe War Memorial.

This page was added on 11/12/2015.

Comments about this page

  • I can confirm that Joseph Eagle in Southwark is my great grandad. He did indeed have a daughter called Ellen who was my Gran. A couple of things we didn’t know so thanks for that. The service number 14177 belongs to my grandad not the one in Wivenhoe.

    By Gavin green (06/09/2018)
  • The CWGC record for “Eagle, J” cited is certainly the more likely of the two possibilities (the other relates to a John Eagle of the Kings Irish Rifles, born in Belfast) unfortunately neither record relates to the Joseph Eagle commemorated on the Wivenhoe War Memorial.

    The Joseph Eagle buried at Bulls Road Cemetery originally enlisted in the Army at Aldershot on 24th Sep 1914. Joseph’s Short Service Attestation Paper reveals that he was 25 years and 40 days old at the time and born in Bermondsey, his occupation is given as Engineers Labourer and address as 21 Camelot Street, Southwark. Joseph married Helena Hemmings in 1912 and they had one daughter, Ellen, born in 1913. Joseph became a driver with the Army Service Corps but was discharged from the Army in January 1915.

    Joseph re-enlisted on the 11 Oct 1915 when his age is given as 27 years and 2 months and occupation as Warehouseman, his address is the same, 21 Camelot Street, by this time Joseph and Helena had a second daughter, Mary (b.18 Jul 1915). Clearly the two ages given on the attestation papers are inconsistent with each other but both point to a birthday in early August in either 1888 or ’89, the earlier date is consistent with the birth of Joseph Eagle registered in the Sep Quarter of 1888 at St. Olave (Southwark) and also a christening on 9 Sep 1888 at Bermondsey son of Thomas and Emma Eagle. There is also record of a school admission in 1892 that gives the same date (9 Sep 1888) as the date of birth, it may be that the date of baptism has been entered in error. Joseph can also be found on the 1911 Census, living in Bermondsey, at the same time as his namesake was living in Wivenhoe, they are clearly not the same person.

    The Joseph Eagle who lived in Wivenhoe was born in 1889 at Elmstead, the youngest of William and Leah’s twelve children; his parents had married in 1867 with his father being some 20 years older than his mother and already in his sixties when Joseph was born. The family were originally from Suffolk but moved to Essex in the late 1870’s and are listed on the 1881 Census at Elmstead, by 1891 they were living on the Wivenhoe Road near Keelers Farm (a mis-transcription on the 1891 Census renders Leah as Sarah). Joseph is listed on the 1901 Census living with his mother and two elder brothers on Brook Street. Leah is listed as the head of the household as William had been admitted to the Tendring Union Workhouse where he died later that same year. By 1911 Joseph is the only child still living at home with his widowed mother on Park Road, Leah is listed as a Reading Club Caretaker, Joseph had followed in his brothers’ footsteps, working as a Shipyard Labourer.

    It is then very difficult to find any trace of Joseph’s death, or service history, during the First World War, most of the usual sources draw a blank. The only record relating to Joseph Eagle that I can find is in the Merchant Seaman’s Campaign Medals on the National Archives website, crucially this gives both Joseph’s date and place of birth: 6 May 1889, Elmstead. Just one problem, the medal card relates to service in the Second, rather than First, World War.

    So rather than being one of the fallen of the First World War it seems that Joseph Eagle served in and survived the Second, he died on 20th Nov 1949 at Harwich, leaving a widow and three children, his widow died in 1977.

    Quite why Joseph’s name ended up on the Wivenhoe War Memorial remains a mystery, I suspect that Joseph had moved to Brightlingsea by the time of its unveiling. Although there appears to be no connection between the two it’s just possible that the inclusion of Joseph’s name is linked to the same error that resulted in the omission of Harold Harlow’s name.

    Michael Smither.

    By Michael Smither (27/01/2018)
  • Thank you Michael for this piece of research which I have now made visible to all.
    Peter Hill, Chairman, Wivenhoe History Group

    By Peter Hill (23/02/2018)

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