Private 47100 Joseph Tongue

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Cenotaph, St James, Ogley Hay, east face. Men who gave their lives 1914-1918.

Further exploration of the men commemorated by the cenotaph at St James, Ogley Hay, in my home town of Brownhills, in the West Midlands.  This is prompted by a request submitted to BrownhillsBob by a great granddaughter.


1901 England Census. Chester Road, Brownhills. Joseph Tongue. 33. colliery labourer & hairdresser; wife Fanny, 33; children William,11; Maria, 9; Joseph, 7; all born Brownhills. Near St James’s Place and New Street. Today that would be opposite Silver Court.

1911 England Census. Church Road (note: enumerator wrote “Road”, residents wrote “Street”), Brownhills. Joseph, 42, colliery boat and truck trader; Fanny, 42, married 22 years; 11 children, 8 surviving; William, 21, canal truck and boat trader; Marie, 19, servant domestic; Joseph, 17, colliery labourer on bank; Emma, 9, school; Gertrude, 7, school; Eliza, 6, school; Charles, 4; Catherine, 1. They were a few doors up from the Shoulder of Mutton – the sixth record from the pub, and there are six houses remaining, but, while it seems likely that they did live in the house on the corner of Short Street, the enumerator might not have proceeded in an orderly manner. Still, the house would have been similar.

Arthur Tongue, brother (?), lived a few more doors up the street, probably where the car park is now.

Young Joseph’s birth registered 1894 Jan-Mar Lichfield 6b 497. (This is the reference for ordering the entry of birth from the General Register Office: £6 for PDF version ordered online.)

An image of the baptism record on Findmypast includes:  St James, Ogley Hay with Brownhills; Baptised 1894 Jan? (sic) 26, born Dec 21 1893, Joseph, parents Joseph & Fanny Tongue, of High Street, where Joseph was a hair dresser.


Private Joseph Tongue, Regimental Number 47100, enlisted at Walsall (I have not found a date), and was serving with the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment (also known as the Green Howards), 1st Battalion, when he was reported as being taken prisoner, though I suspect this was an error in all the confusion of terrible losses for the British. Why was he in the West Yorkshire Regiment? Well, it just happened that they were based at Whittington Barracks, near Lichfield.

Lichfield Mercury 12 Apr 1918 p3 col7

Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Tongue, Church Street, Brownhills, have been officially informed that their son Private Joseph Tongue, West Yorks Regiment, who only recently rejoined his regiment after being home on furlough, has been taken prisoner.

I have not found a news report of death; maybe because he was not found, though it does not mean there was none.

Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry ) 14 May 1918 (Page 33 of 66 (col 1))

Under Daily List of May 9th (Contd.)

Part VII  W.O.’s, N.C.O.’s, AND MEN (Contd.)



… Tongue 47100 J. (Brownhills) …

Killed in action

The index of Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1918 lists Joseph Tongue, Brownhills, Staffs as killed in action on 21 March 1918, in France and Flanders.

The WWI Medal Roll says that he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals (BW & V), and presumed dead.

The UK Army Register of Soldiers Effects tells that £9 9s 6d, including a War Gratuity of £7, was paid to Joseph’s widow Elizabeth in two parts on 4 October 1919 and 17 November 1919.

The marriage of Joseph Tongue to Elizabeth Harrison is registered as 1916 Oct-Dec Lichfield 6b 802.  I have not been able to find Elizabeth in the 1911 Census (she may have been in service and not so easy to find), but in 1901, she and her family lived in Church Street, Ogley Hay.  Childhood sweethearts?  According to a tree on Ancestry there was a son, William Joseph Edward “Ted” Tongue, born 11 April 1917.  That and another tree say Joseph died at Cambrai.

Spring Offensive

On 21 March 1918 the German Army launched a major attack along the Western Front, reinforced from the closed Eastern Front.  Over 7,500 British soldiers died that day, the second worst of the war, and it appears Private Joseph Tongue was among them.  According the history of the Yorkshire Regiment, the 1st Battalion was engaged in the 1918 Battle of Cambrai, so that may have been Journey’s End for Joseph.

Private Tongue is commemorated on the war memorial at Arras, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France (Bay 4).  Find A Grave gives the Memorial ID 124950032.

Wilfrid Owen wrote a poem: Spring Offensive.

poppies 2 110713
In Flanders fields the poppies blow …

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