Joseph Havenhand was born on 8th April 1893 at Parkgate, Rotherham, the fourth son of Arthur and Elizabeth Havenhand. By 1901 the family were living in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire. Arthur a miner is a widower, his wife Elizabeth having died in 1900. Arthur remarried in 1902 to Emma Prendergast, and by 19 11 Joseph now had two sisters and two more brothers. In 1911 the family is living at Cawdor Street, Bentley and Arthur is once again a widower, Emma had died in 1910. Arthur is still a miner and Joseph is now working as a pit pony driver and according to Doncaster Gazette they both worked at Bentley Colliery. The Gazette report also tells us that before the war Joseph was ‘an ardent member of the “Church of Christ,” on Askern Road’ and that he was ‘a hard worker for the Sunday School’.
From reports in the Doncaster Gazette we learn that Joseph was one of of the earliest recruits when war broke out joining up on 28th August 1914 and leaving for France the following summer with the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. . In 1917, newspaper reports tell us that Joseph, now a Corporal, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and also a promotion to Sergeant. We learn that Joseph has been in France for two and a half years and come through most of the heavy engagements, including the Battle of the Somme ‘without receiving a scratch’. We are also told that in a letter to his parents Joseph tells them that he has ‘been awarded the D.C.M and a special certificate for conspicuous bravery in action’.
Joseph’s D.C.M citation was printed in the London Gazette on 26th January 1918 and reads:
Distinguished Conduct Medal
2305 Cpl J. Havenhand York L.I. (Doncaster)
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. At a critical moment in the attack when his company was held up by heavy machine-gun fire from a concrete post, he worked forward with a few men and succeeded in getting up to the post and bombing it. This gallant action overcame the enemy resistance, and the taking of the first objective was assured.
It is reported that later in 1917 Joseph was ‘gassed in action’ and as a result spent some time receiving treatment in hospital in Oxford and Winslow and was then ‘engaged for a time as a drill sergeant on the East Coast’, he returned to the front in August 1918 with another battalion of the K.O.Y.L.I. . Early in October 1918 Doncaster Gazette reports the sad news that on 2nd September 1918, aged 25, Joseph was killed in action. Commonwealth War grave records tell us that Joseph was serving with the 2nd/ 4th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I. at the time of his death and that he is buried at the Vaulx Hill Cemetery in France.