Joseph Walter Hill was born in 1888 at Garforth, Leeds, Yorkshire, and was sixth of eight children to William Hill and Ann (Birkin).
Mr Hill was born in Garforth, Yorkshire in 1856 and had worked as a farm labourer and domestic gardener. Mrs Hill was born in Newsam Green, Yorkshire in 1854. Joseph’s parents could not be traced after the 1891 census, where they were living at Farm House, West Garforth, Yorkshire, but Joseph’s marriage certificate of 1915 stated his father was deceased.
In the 1901 census Joseph was living with his grandparents, Andrew and Martha Hill, at Fernleigh Road, Grange, North Lonsdale, Lancashire, and in 1911 he was listed as an ‘assistant’ to Chip Potato Dealers George and Hannah Bradley of Calder Vale Road, Burnley, Lancashire.
It is not known how long he was a resident of Oakenholt but he lived for a while with his sister and brother in law, Harriet and Richard Armour, at 5, Gardeners Row, but probably left the area before his marriage.
On 13th July, 1915 he married 50-year-old widow Sarah Jane Gardner, née Thomas, at St John the Baptist Parish Church, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset. She was first married to painter George Frederick Gardner (1863–1903), and had at least two children named Frederick Charles (1887–1926) and Charles William (1889–?). Joseph’s address was given as Perham, Wiltshire, and his occupation was a waiter. They had no children.
He enlisted in Wrexham and landed at Boulogne, France on 19th July, 1915. He was killed in action in France on 25th September, 1915, and has no known grave but is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France, on Panels 50 to 52.
He is remembered on two war memorials: Flint Town and Grove Park, Weston-Super-Mare, and was awarded the 1914–15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
Private Richard Armour was serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in France and in a letter home to his wife, dated 26th September, 1915, he stated: “Thank God, I am able to write once again, but since writing last we have been through hell; but although I am safe, yet there are chums of ours who are lying asleep forever.” He also informed his wife that her brother Private Joseph Hill, of the same Battalion, was killed instantaneously in the same battle. Of the platoon he (Armour) was in, several of his chums had either been killed or were in hospital with wounds. George Johnson, Harold Johnson and Johnny Owens were all right; but he was very sorry that his brother-in-law, Private Joseph Hill, was dead. He could not enter into any of the details of the fighting; but what a blessing it would be when the awful slaughter was over, because war it was not.
It was also reported at the same time that Mrs Armour had other brothers who had fallen in battle, and who had been and were still engaged in the present War. Private Andrew Hill, of the 1st West Yorks, was killed in the battle on the Aisne on 20th September, 1914. Private Henry Hill, who was attached to the Canadians, had died of wounds received in France. Private Fred Hill (of Garforth, near Leeds), of the King’s Own Regiment, and Private Tom Hill, of the same place and regiment, were prisoners of war in Germany; and Private George Hill, of the 1st West Yorks Regiment, was reported to be missing. Another brother was Gunner William Hill, who was with the Maxim Gun Detachment from the Newcastle district.
In 1916 Sarah Jane, who was born in Cirencester, Gloucester, was living at 10, Longton Grove Road, Weston-Super-Mare. She died on 8th February, 1937, aged 72, and is buried in an unmarked grave at Weston Cemetery, Weston-Super-Mare.