Private Joseph Bray

Private Joseph Bray lived with his parents and siblings at 26 Cross Street, Prescot. On 24 May 1915 he attested into the 11th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment in Prescot. Despite being recorded as 5’ 1” and weighing 102 pounds, he claimed that he was aged 19 years and 1 month, and was an unmarried bricklayer. Once training had been undertaken, he and his Battalion sailed to France on 4 March 1916.

After months serving on the field, it was discovered on 29 November 1916 that he was underage; his date of birth was 4 August 1898 so he had been 16 at the time of enlisting. He was sent back to England a fortnight later. When he enlisted, only those aged 19 and over could fight abroad; 18 year olds could enlist, but had to remain in Britain until they were 19. This rule was later relaxed to meet the need for troops overseas.

This set-back did not deter Joseph Bray. He transferred to the Herefordshire Regiment on 18 December 1916, then to the Monmouthshire Regiment later that month. He was posted to Rouen, France, on 20 July 1917, then in the following March he joined the South Wales Borderers.

His Battalion then moved to Belgium to be part of the last allied advance at Ypres, and on 15th October 1918, Joseph Bray was wounded in fighting to claim the village of Salines; he died later that day, aged 20.