Joe Elliott was born in Ackworth, South Yorkshire in 1890 but grew up in South Kirkby where his father John Joseph was a miner at the pit. Joe followed his father down the mine, which was the biggest employer in the area – over 3000 men worked there during its heyday.
He married in 1909 and he and wife Florence had two children, James and Emily, when he enlisted in the Army in August 1914. He joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1/5 Battalion and was posted to France with the British Expeditionary Force on the 13th April 1915. This must have been a wrench for all the family, as baby Ernest had been born only a month earlier.
Joe was promoted to Sergeant and in the summer of 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His citation in the London Gazette on the 17th September 1917 reads “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion during a raid upon enemy trenches. He led his party into the trench against great opposition, successfully dealing with the enemy and setting a splendid example to all by his determination and fine leadership.”
He only sustained one recorded injury during the war – a fractured shin bone sustained while playing in an organised football match between “A” and “C” Companies in November 1917! However on discharge from the Army in 1919 he was awarded the Silver War badge and Certificate, which was usually given to men who had been discharged early from service due to injury. Joe’s army records, like many others, were badly burned during the Second World War so we don’t know why he was awarded the Badge. In the 1939 Register Joe’s occupation is given as “Colliery Hewer, incapacitated”, but it’s not clear at what point he had stopped working.
Florence died at the age of 24 in 1917, and the three children were looked after by a neighbours while Joe was away at war.
Joe then married Rosa Ellen Mason late in 1918 in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He met Rose in Kettering when he broke his leg; he was in hospital and she was a nurse. They married in 1918 and had six children: William in 1919, Alice in 1921, Joyce in 1924, Rosamund in 1927, Lillian in 1931 and Joey in 1934. They moved to Park Estate in South Kirkby in 1939.
Joe’s son Ernest, the baby born during the war, followed his father down the mine and was living nearby at 51 King Street in 1939. It is interesting to think they might have been very close, as Joe used Ernest’s date of birth as his own by mistake when he filled in the entry on the 1939 register.
Joe and Rosa moved back to Kettering with their three youngest children, where they found work in the shoe industry. Joe died there in 1964 aged 74 and Rosa in 1980 aged 83.