"To Keep in Memory"

George Albert Joynes

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CORPORAL GEORGE ALBERT JOYNES MM

11113, 19th Labour Company, Labour Corps. 

Killed in Action, 27th October 1917.
Aged 23 years.

Buried in Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Zillebeke, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Plot I, Row G, Grave 17.

George Albert Joynes was the eldest of six surviving sons born to the marriage of George Henry Joynes and his wife Annie Elizabeth Joynes (nee Mosby) who married in Doncaster in 1893. George Henry Joynes was a colliery hewer originally from Moorhouse in Nottinghamshire and it appears that he moved on numerous occasions to follow his work. George Albert Joynes was born in Mexborough in 1894, however, by the time his brother William Ernest Joynes was born two years later, the family was back in Nottinghamshire at Old Ratford. A further move took place before the next son, Thomas Frederick Joynes, was born and this saw the family come to Barwick, sometime between 1896 when William was born and 1900 when Thomas Frederick Joynes was born. It seems the family settled in Barwick as a further three sons were born there after Thomas. They were John Robert (b. 1903), Harold Ormond (b. 1905), and James Arthur (b. 1907).

The badge of the West Yorkshire Regiment
The badge of the West Yorkshire Regiment

George Henry Joynes and his son William were employed by the Garforth Colliery Company, George as a hewer and William as a pony driver. George Albert was labourer on a farm. The family lived on Aberford Lane in Barwick.
At the time of his death, George Albert Joynes, known in the family as Albert, was serving in the 19th Labour Company of the Labour Corps. This unit was one of two established when the 22nd (Labour) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment was broken up on 14th May 1917. Two of the companies formed the 18th Labour Company and the other two companies became 19th Labour Company. When he was with the West Yorkshire Regiment, Albert Joynes’ service number was 30399. He had joined the Army in March 1916 and was in France only two months later.

Hellfire Corner on the Menin Road.
Hellfire Corner on the Menin Road.

Albert Joynes was awarded a Military Medal for bravery, the award being notified in the London Gazette on 28th January 1918. As a rule Military Medal awards for the Great War do not carry citations of the act of gallantry for which they are awarded and researching them is notoriously difficult. In Albert Joynes’ case we are fortunate in that the circumstances for his award were described in a newspaper article which appeared in the Rothwell Courier and Times on 29th June 1918 on the occasion of the Military Medal being presented to his parents at a ceremony at Chapeltown Barracks in Leeds. The article states that on 27th October 1917, heavy German shelling in the area of Hellfire Corner, on the Menin Road just outside Ypres had damaged the road and a call for volunteers to repair the damage went out. Corporal Joynes was one of a number who volunteered for the dangerous task and it was while he was engaged in this work that he was killed by a shell. The cemetery where Albert Joynes is buried is roughly 900m away from Hellfire Corner along the Menin Road.

The grave of Cpl Albert Joynes MM, Birr Crossroads Cemetery.
The grave of Cpl Albert Joynes MM, Birr Crossroads Cemetery.

It is important to note that Albert Joynes served with the West Yorkshire Regiment prior to his transfer to the Labour Corps. It will be seen, however, that his headstone bears the badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment. The Labour Corps did not get its own cap badge until October 1918 and the soldiers and officers who served with it would have worn their parent unit badges. Therefore, Albert Joynes would have worn the badge of the West Yorkshire Regiment throughout his service, and the badge borne on his headstone should be that of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Remembering the Fallen of Two Villages on the Eastern Fringes of Leeds.

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