The strange case of Joseph Woodess
buried at St Agnes Cemetery
Woodess, Joseph, Private 53936. Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 21/7/1920. Husband of Sarah Ellen Woodess of 22, Union Street, Sandbach, Cheshire.
Joseph Woodess was born circa 1889. Little is known of his early life but a Joseph Woodess born in Manchester at around the same time was recorded in the 1901 Census as being an ‘inmate’ at St Josephs Certified Industrial School for Boys.
Joseph’s attestation papers reveal that he enlisted into the Welsh Regiment at Porthcawl in February 1915 and that his home address was 27, Lyon Street, St Helens, Lancashire. His occupation was listed as coal miner and his next of kin as his mother, Elizabeth.
In February 1916, Joseph married Sarah Ellen Jones of Conwy at Carmel Chapel on Chapel Street. By this time Joseph had been transferred into the South Wales Borderers. His disciplinary record was poor and was reprimanded and punished a number of times for misdemeanours ranging from missing church parade to returning late from leave. Joseph survived the First World War and transferred into the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers in August 1919.
Private Joseph Woodess died on 21 June 1920. It was reported in the local newspaper that he was returning to Conwy, with his horse and cart, along Bryn Seiri Road when an “unaccountable accident” occurred. Woodess’ lifeless body was found trapped under the overturned cart and his horse and that he was killed instantly.
One has to wonder why Joseph Woodess has an entry in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. He is listed as a Private with the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers at the time of his death whereas the account of his death in the North Wales Weekly News suggests that he was employed as a carter for Rhos Nursery, Cymryd Isaf, Gyffin and so was not on active service. When asked, the CWGC were unable to account for the discrepancy or substantiate on Joseph’s inclusion on the register. Interestingly the 2nd Garrison Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was disbanded in January 1920, six months prior to Joseph Woodess’ demise.
Thanks to the Home Front Museum Llandudno for the information