Millom soldier killed in winter advance on fortified village

2 January 2017 3:27PM

MANY Millom families would be entitled to claim the bronze Memorial Plaque for a relative who died in the First World War.

The picture shows the plaque awarded the mark the death of Joseph Stables a century ago.

Pte Joseph Stables served with the 8th and later the 7th Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and was army number 20958.

He died from wounds on November 18 in 1916 and is buried at Puchevillers British Cemetery, on the Somme in France.

The village of Puchevillers is 19Km north-east of Amiens and became a base for the 3rd and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations.

Pte Stables was born in Millom and enlisted in his home town for military service.

The 7 th Battalion of the King’s Own was raised at Lancaster in September 1914 and landed at Boulogne, France, after training, on July 17 in 1915.

In September 1916 the battalion took part in the Battle of Arras and in November 1916 were in the Battle of Grandcourt.

Almost 500 men from the battalion were killed in action during fighting on the Western Front in France and Belgium.

The battalion’s best known soldier was Pte James Miller who won the Victoria Cross for carrying a vital message and returning with the reply, despite being mortally wounded on July 30 in 1916.

We can’t be sure on which day Pte Stables was wounded but his battalion was involved in a major advance and was subject to fierce artillery bombardment in the few days up to his death on November 18.

The 7th battalion supported an attack by the 56th Brigade around the fortified village of St Pierre Divion to push the Germans back from defensive positions on the Hansa Line.

Pte Stables may have been injured in taking the trench line or in defending it in the face of shell fire from November 15 onwards.

Army records show that Pte Stables was aged 22 years and six months were he signed up on September 28 in 1915.

He was working as a tailor, had a 36in chest and weighed just 126lb (9st).

His next of kin was given as his mother, Mrs P. Smetheram, of 67 Old Hope Street, Millom.

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