Joseph Thurman was born on 22 February 1899.  He was the third eldest child of William James Thurman (originally from Woodside Worcester) and his wife Mary (originally from Newmarket in Cambridge).

Joseph was baptised at St Helens Church Stapleford on 19th March 1899.  At the time the family were living at Moorbridge Lane Nottinghamshire.  This is in the Stapleford district very close to Sandiacre where the family moved to prior to the 1901 census.

The family are living at 46 Starch Lane Sandiacre in 1901 and William and Mary now have four children.  William’s occupation is given as Iron Pipe Moulder.

1901 census

I have been unable to find any school records for Joseph, but as his elder brother William James attended Victoria Road (later called Ladycross) Infant School at Sandiacre there is a good possibility this is the school which Joseph attended.

By 1911 the family had moved again and were now living at 25 Buller Street Ilkeston.

1911 census

There were now 9 children living at home, but as the census shows William and Mary actually had 11 children in total but 2 had died by 1911.

Joseph is by now 12 years of age and although it has not been entered on the census he is probably still at school.

Sometime prior to February 1916 the family moved to 49 Johnson Street at Sheepbridge.

1919 The Brushes showing that School


The next information I have for Joseph is his military record.

Josephs medal card shows two Service numbers which indicates he joined one regiment and was later transferred to another.  This could have been as a result of a shortage of men in a regiment due to an increase in casualties.

medal card


As shown above first he joined the Leicesters Service No 48024 and later he was transferred to the Norfolk regiment Service No 41448.  Unfortunately, as Josephs Service record no longer exist I cannot give an exact date when he enlisted, his medal record doesn’t show what date he arrived in France.

In WW1 the rules for joining up were that men aged 18 could enlist but could not be sent overseas until they were 19.  There are numerous accounts of under age men being allowed to join up younger than 18.

This excerpt taken from

It didn’t help that recruitment officers were paid two shillings and sixpence (about £6 in today’s money) for each new recruit, and would often turn a blind eye to any concern they had about age. At the same time, though, some officers thought the fresh air and good food of the army would do some of the more under-nourished boys a bit of good.

Joseph would only have been 19 in the February of 1918, possibly that was when he was sent to fight in France, but sadly I have no way of confirming this. Another clue from the medal card could be that he hasn’t been awarded the 14/15 Star.  This was awarded to men who had served in any theatre of the First World War against the Central European Powers during 1914 and 1915.

The 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment was part of 15th Brigade, 5th Division. Towards the end of 1917 A major change occurred with 5th Division, being one of five British formations selected to be moved to Italy. This was a strategic and political move agreed by the British Government at the request of the Allied Supreme War Council, as an effort to stiffen Italian resistance to enemy attack after a recent disaster at Caporetto. Many diaries at this time, by men who had witnessed slaughter in the floods of Passchendaele, talk of the move and Italy as being “like another world”. Much work was done preparing to move into the mountainous area of the Brenta, but eventually the Division was instead moved to the line along the River Piave, taking up positions in late January 1918. Unfortunately this pleasant period was not to last, for the Division was recalled hurriedly to France, once the enemy had made an attack in overwhelming strength on 21 March. (Excerpt taken from

Whether Joseph made the move to Italy with 5th Division sadly we will never know. What is confirmed is that Joseph Thurman Died on 28th June 1918 aged 19.

He is buried at Tannay British Cemetery at Thiennes and the Grave report states that Joseph was Killed in Action.

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This picture of Joseph’s grave was taken by Keith Thurman when he visited in 2018. It would appear to show Joseph’s medals and the ‘Death Penny’ sent to next of kin.

grave picture

joseph thurman (3)Photo kindly provided by Keith Thurman

Details of Tannay cemetery  can be found here

Joseph was awarded the Victory and British War Medal and he is remembered on Old Whittington and The Brushes War Memorials.


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