Joseph Axson/Axon, Private 17882, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died of wounds 14th June 1915 near Ypres, Belgium, aged 32
Joseph Axson was baptised on 1st August 1883 at St Peter’s Church, Congleton, the son of Emma and James Axson, a carrier and carter of 54 Mill Street, Congleton. By 1891 the family had moved to 33 Lowe Street, Sutton, Macclesfield, where seven year old Joseph lived with his parents and older brothers Herbert Dearden (13) and Alfred (12).
Joseph’s father died in 1898, which resulted in the family splitting up. Joseph’s mother Emma returned to Congleton where she worked as a servant; Herbert went to West Derby, Liverpool, where he married Catherine Smith in 1899; Alfred married Eliza Barlow in Macclesfield in 1900, later settling at 9 Dorris Street, Levenshulme, Manchester where he was employed as a Railway Signalman; and in 1899, Joseph joined the army.
Joseph attested in Warrington on 5th July 1899, joining the 3rd Liverpool Regiment with service number 4822. His Army records state that he was living at 32 Black Lane, Macclesfield and employed as a compositor by the Macclesfield Times. He was described as 5 feet 3¼ inches tall, and weighed 98lbs with a 30 inch chest; he had dark brown eyes and hair and a sallow complexion.
After serving in South Africa and India, Joseph returned to civil life and found employment with the London and North-Western Railway Company. By 1914, his work had taken him to South Wales.
Joseph was at Aberavon in Glamorganshire when he was recalled to his Regiment soon after the start of the war, and after a short training period he left Birkenhead for France on 11th January 1915.
The men of the 1st Battalion were drafted to an area of the Ypres Salient where the Germans first used gas as a weapon, Gravenstafel on 23rd/24th April 1915. In June, the 1st Battalion was at Dormy House, Zillebeke. It is not known when Joseph was injured, but he died of his wounds at the 14th Field Ambulance Hospital on 14th June 1915, aged 32 years. Joseph’s next of kin was his brother, Alfred Axson.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 9th July 1915:
PRIVATE JOSEPH AXSON
We regret to record the death of another of Macclesfield’s gallant soldier sons in the person of Private Joseph Axson, youngest son of the late Mr James Axson, of 3 Lowe Street, Macclesfield.
Private Axson enlisted in the 1st Cheshire Regiment in 1899. Previously he had been in the employ of Messrs Heath Bros., printers, St George’s Street Mill. He went through the South African war, and afterwards served five years in India. Upon returning to civil life at the expiration of his term of service he was employed by the London and North-Western Railway Company for a short period, and [was] subsequently in South Wales, where he was when the call came to rejoin the colours. With his old Regiment he left Birkenhead for France on January 11th…. Private Axson’s eldest brother George is Quartermaster and Hon. Lieutenant of the 5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and has a record of 28 years’ service. He is an old boy of the Lord Street Sunday School.
Private Joseph Axson is buried in Grave Ref E. 5. of the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery in Belgium.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Joseph Axson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Private Joseph Axson is not known to be commemorated in Macclesfield, but his photograph was published in the Macclesfield Times commemorative supplement published after the unveiling of the Park Green war memorial on 21st September 1921.