Joseph Hordern (MM), Lance Sgt 7311, 1st Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Died 10th October 1916 in Somme, France, aged 37
Of 8 Fountain Street, Macclesfield.
Lance-Sergeant Hordern was awarded the Military Medal in 1916. A report of his return to Macclesfield for a short furlough after being awarded the medal was printed in the Macclesfield Times on 2 June 1916:
WELCOME TO SERGEANT HORDERN, WINNER OF THE MILITARY MEDAL – Enthusiastic scenes were witnessed in Macclesfield late on Wednesday night in connection with the home-coming, on short furlough, of a local hero, Lance-Sergeant Joseph Hordern, 8 Fountain Street, Macclesfield, who has been awarded the Military medal – a newly-established decoration – for gallantry near Ypres during April.
Sergeant Hordern is a native of Bosley, but came to Macclesfield as a child, and received his education at St Paul’s Day School. He served for nearly five years in the Shropshire Light Infantry, and took part in the South African War, for which he possesses the Queen’s and King’s Medals with six bars. After leaving the Army he returned to Macclesfield, where he was employed as a plasterer’s labourer by his brother-in-law, Mr John Mellor. Sergeant Hordern’s period in the Reserve expired six weeks before the outbreak of the present war, and he rejoined the service on September 2nd, 1914. He has been fighting in France for 14 months, having taken part in several exciting engagements, and been in gas attacks. He was home on furlough last Christmas, when he brought with him some interesting souvenirs, which included glass ornaments from a Belgian home devastated by the Germans, a shell dropped from a French aeroplane, and a German hand-grenade.
Sergeant Hordern gained his decoration for conspicuous conduct on April 21st and 22nd, in association with which he received this notice from Major-General C Rose: “Your Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander have informed me that you distinguished yourself on 21st and 22nd April, 1916, near Ypres, by gallant conduct, twice going back across the open under heavy fire and through deep mud to bring up supports. I have read their report with much pleasure.”
Sergeant Hordern left the trenches in France on Monday, and on Wednesday wired home from London that he expected to arrive in Macclesfield at 9.45pm. News of his home-coming quickly spread and a large crowd assembled in the vicinity of Central Station. The bugle band of the Sons of the Empire was in attendance, under Captain R J McBurnie. Disappointment was in store, for the Sergeant did not arrive by the expected train. It was then announced that he would be coming by the train reaching Macclesfield at 11.15pm, and accordingly the people made their way to the Hibel Road Station.
Fully a thousand had congregated in the station approach when the train steamed in, and Sergeant Hordern was accorded a rousing reception. Hearty cheers were raised, Union jacks were waved, and patriotic airs sung, and friends and acquaintances surged forward in the endeavour to give the hero a warm handshake. Sergeant Hordern was literally carried to his home in Fountain Street, which was ablaze with colour, all the neighbours having put out a good display of bunting. A homely greeting was emblazoned over the door of his house and the enthusiasm of the crowd was maintained until an early hour.
Lance-Sergeant Hordern was killed in action on 10th October 1916, and his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 27 October:
“ONE OF THE MOST GALLANT” – OFFICER’S FINE TRIBUTE TO SERGEANT HORDERN – Macclesfield’s first Military Medallist, Lance-Sergeant Joseph Hordern, Shropshire Light Infantry, has been killed in action. The painful intelligence reached his wife, who resides with her children at 8 Fountain Street, on Saturday morning, when she received a letter, dated Oct 17th, from Captain A Fox: “Everybody here in the regiment was most awfully sorry to hear that Sergt Hordern had been killed… Sergt Hordern was one of the most gallant men in the regiment… He has been in the same company as I have since August 1915, and he has always been conspicuous in volunteering for dangerous jobs. On Good FRiday night when he won the Military medal he was with me… he volunteered to go back across the open through terrific shell and machine gun fire to take a message. he delivered the message, and then, instead of staying behind with the supports as I expected him to, as it was daylight by then, he worked his way back to me and stayed with his men in the front line all day. He was killed [by a piece of shell] on the 11th inst in the evening, while digging a new trench. Death must have been instantaneous…
L/Sgt Joseph Hordern has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 12 A and 12 D of the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for L/Sgt Joseph Hordern.