Joseph Archer

Born: 1884
Died: 8 September 1918
Service number: 19584
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Husband of Eleanor Archer nee Hammond

War Service

In early November 1914, Joseph Archer attended a recruiting rally at Ledger Lane School and enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. For the next nine months Private Joseph Archer was trained and drilled to become an effective soldier and, on the 7 August 1915, he was posted to France. Joseph Archer was eventually drafted to the 2nd KOYLI, but the date of this posting is not known.

In the spring of 1916, the battalion, now part of 97th Infantry Brigade, 32nd Division, moved to the trenches by the River Ancre, in readiness for deployment on the Somme. During the first phase of the Battle of the Somme, the 2nd KOYLI was involved in the fighting around Thiepval and in two days incurred over 340 casualties. A further attack by the 97th Brigade, at dawn on the 18 November 1916, saw the 2nd KOYLI on the left of the Brigade's assault towards Munich Trench and Ten Tree Alley. On being relieved the following day, the battalion had incurred 365 casualties.

During the summer of 1917, the 2nd KOYLI had a period of deployment to rotational tours in the trenches at Nieuport, on the Belgian coast. However, by late November 1917, the Battalion was in the line at Passchendaele.

 In March 1918, the 97th Infantry Brigade was brought south to support the Third Army, which was under attack during the German offensive. The 2nd KOYLI was deployed in support of a Guards Brigade, east of Adinfer Wood, where numerous casualties were incurred, due to enemy gas attacks

During August, the 2nd KOYLI was deployed in the line near Beaufort and in attacks, north of Luce, during the Battle of Amiens. On the 22 August 1918, Private Joseph Archer, one of the 97th Brigade snipers, was wounded in the back, but was soon back in action.  

On 3 September 1918, 2nd KOYLI took over an outpost line on front of the village of Misery. At 11.00 hrs on the 5 September, the battalion was ordered to cross the River Somme by a footbridge, which had been constructed by the Royal Engineers. Though the crossing was opposed by machine-gun fire, it was successful and caused the enemy to withdraw. The battalion pushed forward beyond Ennemain and by nightfall a line was established 2.5 miles beyond the river. The following days saw the advance continue through Douvieux and Villerque, before, on the night of 7th/8th September, the 2nd KOYLI was relieved.

Vis en Artois Cemetery
 

The battalions casualties over this period was 3 killed and 35 wounded, one of whom was Private Joseph Archer, killed in action, on 8 September 1918. His body was not identified, but his name is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in the village of that name between Arras and Cambrai. This memorial was erected to remember the 9813 men who died during the advance to victory and have no known grave.

Family Life

Joseph Archer was born on 5 November 1884, the twin son of Herod Archer and his wife Agnes, formerly Poskett, of Lofthouse Gate. At this time his father, Herod Archer, was employed as a blacksmith. Both Joseph and his twin brother James were baptised on 25 December 1984, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood.

When Joseph left school he obtained employment at the colliery and was working as a colliery banksman in 1900, when his father died, aged 46 years. On the 21 July 1906, Joseph Archer married Eleanor Hammond at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. Three years later, when Joseph was working in the Rotherham district, his daughter Doris May was born. On the 1911 census, Joseph and his family are shown as visitors at the home of his brother in law, George Whitfield, at Ridgefield Street, Castleford. Later, Joseph obtained work at Lofthouse Colliery, when he and his family were living at 5 Princess Street, Outwood.

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