How Joe survived First World War

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With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War coming up later this year, the Courier/Weekly News is looking for stories from the war years 1914-18.

Familes of those who served or who kept the home fires burning may have diaries, photographs etc which would be interesting for our readers.

One such story has come from Mike Hoyland of Kenilworth whose father Joe went over the top at the Somme and survived.

Mike says that Joe first joined the Kings Liverpools in 1914 aged just 16. Afte serving for seven months in France, he was discharged as he was under age.

After returning to England, he signed on in the merchant navy until he rejoined the army in 1916 when he was transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers .

He went over the top at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He also saw action at Ypres and the Battle of Messines.

He was gassed at the triangular bluff at Hill 60 in November 1917. He was blind for ten days and after spending some time in hospital, was discharged as medically unfit.

He rejoined the merchant navy before the end of the war. And in September 1918 he was aboard a ship which was torpedoed and sunk in just seven minutes off the coast of Ireland. After surviving several hours in the sea without a lifebelt he was picked up by an American destroyer and landed at Milford Haven.

During the Second World War Joe was in the ATC and taught pilots signalling.

After their house in Wallasey, Merseyside, was bombed in 1940 all Joe’s medals were lost. Joe and his family moved to Coventry in 1946. He worked in the Kenilworth office of J Bibby & Sons from 1946 to 1962. Joe died in 1972, aged 75. His wife Jean died in 2012 aged 94.

Mike Hoyland was born in Coventry but moved to Kenilworth 25 years ago.

If you have any stories about the First World War, please contact Peter Gawthorpe at Leamington Courier, 32 Hamilton Terrace, Leamington CV32 4LY, tel 01926 457732 or email