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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916


CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916


Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916


Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916


Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 25540 Joseph Ashton Backhouse


  • Age: 19
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
  • K.I.A Sunday 30th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.
Born Joseph Ashton Backhouse in the March quarter of 1897 at 41 Berwick Street, Liverpool to Liverpool born cabinet maker Edward Joseph Backhouse and his Liverpool born wife Mary Jane (nee Grey). They married in Keighley Yorkshire on 10th March 1877 and had 5 sons and 1 daughter Emily who sadly died aged 9 months in the March quarter of 1891. They were back in Liverpool for the birth of their first child George Edward born February 1886. Joseph known as Joe was the 4th child of their 6 children. 
 
On the 1901 Census the Family are all at 41 Berwick Street Liverpool. 
 
By the 1911 Census, aged 14 Joe, is declared an Office Boy and they are living at 143 Whitefield Road Anfield with his parents and his two younger brothers Ernest and Frank.
 
His eldest brother George Edward Backhouse, a Police Constable, left home in 1908 when he married. Next elder brother William Hartley Backhouse had left home and was making trips to Canada attempting to emigrate there.
 
In late 1914 when aged 17 Joe enlists  in Liverpool as Private 25540 into the 20th (Pals) Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment.

Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 20th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 7th November 1915. 

The 20th Battalion are in action near Guillemont on 30th July 1916 and Joe is reported missing in action. 
 
His parents place a request in the Liverpool Echo on 29 August 1916 for information about his whereabouts:

"Private Joe Backhouse of the "Pals". Any news concerning him would be gratefully recieved by his parents at 72 Berwick Street, West Derby Road, Liverpool".
 
It was not till the Echo announced his death in a report on 08 June 1917 that Joe was officially declared killed the previous year:

DEATHS

KILLED IN ACTION

BACKHOUSE - Reported missing, now officially reported killed July 30, 1916 aged 20 years. Private Joseph Ashton Backhouse (KLR). (Sadly missed by Father, Mother and brothers) 72 Berwick Street.  
 
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The events of 30th July 1916 were regarded at the time as Liverpool’s blackest day. There follows an extract from The History of the 89th Brigade written by Brigadier General Ferdinand Stanley which gives an indication of the events of the day.

Guillemont

Well the hour to advance came, and of all bad luck in the world it was a thick fog; so thick that you couldn’t see more than about ten yards. It was next to impossible to delay the attack – it was much too big an operation- so forward they had to go. It will give some idea when I say that on one flank we had to go 1,750 yards over big rolling country. Everyone knows what it is like to cross enclosed country which you know really well in a fog and how easy it is to lose your way. Therefore, imagine these rolling hills, with no landmarks and absolutely unknown to anyone. Is it surprising that people lost their way and lost touch with those next to them? As a matter of fact, it was wonderful the way in which many men found their way right to the place we wanted to get to. But as a connected attack it was impossible.

The fog was intense it was practically impossible to keep direction and parties got split up. Owing to the heavy shelling all the Bosches had left their main trenches and were lying out in the open with snipers and machine guns in shell holes, so of course our fellows were the most easy prey.

It is so awfully sad now going about and finding so many splendid fellows gone.   

His Army pay of £2:19s:1d was sent to his mother at 72 Berwick Street, Liverpool on 17/12/1917 and a War Gratuity of £6:10s was also sent to her on 14 /10/1919
She also claimed a Dependants Pension for him.
 
Graham Maddocks in his listing of the fallen in Liverpool Pals has him incorrectly listed as Blackhouse J on killed in Action on 5/08/1916.
 
Everard Wyrall in his listings of the Fallen in Vol II of The History of the King's Regt Liverpool has his Killed in Action on 5/08/1916 as does SDG, however, the CWGC site, the Liverpool Echo announcement and Soldiers Effects Preston all record his death as 30/07/1916 which is most likely.

Joe is commemorated on the Memorial at Boaler Street Council School now housed at Butler CP School, Butler Street, Everton. 

His elder brother George joined the Machine Gun Corps and William enlisted in the Canadian Army in June 1916 and is posted to France. Both survived the War with George returning to his life as a Police Constable till Retirement and William returning to his life in Canada.