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Information from Clive Wood, 2008
Sergeant John Ernest Joyce

9509 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment

Gravestone on C.914Son of Mr Edwin and Mrs Leah Joyce

Aged 22 years

Died 9th March 1915

Commemorated at Dranouter Churchyard
Grave II. B.11
And in Rushden Cemetery
Grave C.914/915

Born and enlisted at Rushden.
Sergeant JoyceThe Rushden Echo Friday 20 November 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier in India Promoted to Sergeant

Sergt J. E. Joyce (Rushden), of the 2nd East Yorkshire Regiment, writes to his parents from India, as follows:-

"I haven't received any letter this week as we have had to rejoin the regiment from — and I suppose I shall get my letters in a few days. I have been made a sergeant at last and have now three stripes. We are not allowed to say if we are for the war or not, so I dare not tell you anything about it, as it has all been stopped by army order. If we do happen to move I will let you know, as we shall come to England first and go to the war afterwards."

The Rushden Echo Friday 27 November 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Promotion On the Move

Another letter arrived this week from Lance-Sergt J. E. Joyce, of the 2nd East Yorkshire Regiment, and son of Mr and Mrs Joyce, of Rushden. Writing from India, he says:-

"I received the letter and "Rushden Echo" safely, for which I thank you very much. I suppose you will be surprised to hear that you need not send me any more letters until I write again. I cannot tell you the reason as we are not allowed to say anything, but I will send on my box in about a fortnight's time. I must leave you to guess the remainder for yourself. We are getting some very warm weather out here; I suppose it is a bit colder in England and I suppose I shall feel it. What is trade like? Is it picking up at all in Rushden? I expect the shoe trade is all right, as I see by the papers that there are plenty of orders for boots from the English and French Armies just lately."

The Rushden Echo Friday 1 January 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

The Gurka's Kukri and How He Uses It - Rushden Soldier's Promotion - Exciting Voyage From India - India's Loyalty

"The terrible kukris of the Gurkhas will not miss their mark once in ten times", Sergt. J. E. Joyce (Rushden) told a "Rushden Echo" representative this week. He has just returned home from India and will be in England for a few days.

He received a well deserved promotion just before leaving India, and is now a full sergeant.

"We had a long and exciting voyage home and were three days more or less under fire. Missiles were splashing in the water all round but we could not see the ships actually engaged in the fighting. The cruisers that were escorting us must have met enemy vessels, as we could hear the boom of guns that were settling difference. There would have been plenty of 'food' for the Emden if that ship had been at large, but, fortunately, her downfall had been accomplished a few days before we set sail. There were over 20 troopships bound to the west and it would have been to the advantage of the Germans to sink a few of them. But they were not destined to do so. Staying for a time at a certain port our escort picked up further supplies of ammunition and some of the shells they use would want a bit of 'picking up'. I have seen them four feet in length and heavier than a man can lift!

"After the tussle with the enemy (whichever one it was), we again proceeded and came through the Red Sea and past 'Gib'. The Queen of Spain is said to have sat on a certain spot and told her followers that she would never leave it until Gibraltar was restored to Spain. We did not see her sitting there, however! A rumour was spread amongst the troops as we came along, that the Kaiser had promised to hand Gibraltar back to Spain if the Spaniards would help Germany in the present war. It caused not a little amusement to the soldiers, who, however, gave even the Kaiser more sense than to promise such an impossible thing.

"Further along the journey we missed part of the troopships, but expect that they landed in France. We were supposed to have been bound for Southampton, but when we landed it was at Devonport. No doubt the mine fields had something to do with the altered programme. As we landed, papers were being sold reporting the loss of our own ship. It was 'unofficial', of course, and stated that the whole of the troops on board must have gone to the bottom. The vessels in which we came over belonged to the Cunard Company, but were taken over by the Government for war purposes. The journey took five weeks, although it can be accomplished in three."

Sergt. Joyce said that "the loyalty of the Indians is well founded" and that they would not care to have England defeated.

The same percentage of white and black troops that it maintained in India has been brought over here. It will go hard with the Germans who came to close quarters with the Gurkhas. They carry in their turbans the wonderful weapon, the kukri, which, in their hands, can be made to slay with deadly certainty. There is a curious tradition amongst these people that the kukri or knife must never be drawn without causing blood to flow either from the owner or the foe, else they will lose caste. The kukri is a crescent shaped knife with no handle and the edge is sharpened all round. It is difficult to pick them up without cutting oneself and a Gurkha always cuts himself when he uses it. They can be thrown 60 yards, and are never aimed at the body which presents the biggest target, but at the throat. The kukri cannot be seen as it goes like lightning through the air, but will take anyone's head off if he is caught in the neck with one. The Indians wear a uniform as near as practicable to the shape they like best, but the colour is, of course, the same as that of our troops."

Sergt. Joyce went on to say that he didn't appreciate the cold weather, although he enjoyed being at home. He has been used to 118 degrees in the shade and no cold rains. But on arriving at Winchester he had to be exposed to a drenching rain for two hours, unloading kit. He related an amusing incident with regard to drill. He was instructing the company in various matters, amongst others starting off on a march with the left foot.

"Why do we have to start off with the left?" one of the men asked.

"Every man ought to know why," replied the sergeant. "Do any of you know?"

"No, sir!"

"Well, it is to get a move on!" Sergeant Joyce replied.

The Rushden Echo Friday 26 March 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Killed - Sergt John Ernest Joyce Succumbs to Wounds - Born Soldier

The sad news was received in Rushden on Monday morning from official sources that Sergt. John Ernest Joyce of the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, third son of Mr and Mrs E Joyce of Sartoris-road, Rushden, had on March 9th, died from wounds received in action. Much sympathy will be felt with his bereaved parents and family, who saw him for but three days before he proceeded with his regiment to the front. Before paying this brief visit to Rushden, the late Sergt Joyce had put in 12 months service in India. He served five years in His Majesty's Forces. Deceased was a native of Rushden, being born in Pemberton Avenue [street]. Prior to taking up military duties he was employed at Mr Joseph Knight's boot factory, and he passed through the Sunday School of the Wellingborough-road Mission Hall, his name being on the roll of honour of that place of worship.

The late Sergt Joyce was but 22 years of age, was every inch a true Briton and a soldier, and it should not be wondered at that his promotion was very rapid. He could have wished for no more glorious end than to have given his life on behalf of his King and country. He was well known and highly respected through the whole of the town and district.

When the late Sergt Joyce was at home prior to proceeding to the front he accorded us the privilege of an interview which appeared in our columns at the time. In the last letter he sent to his mother dated five days prior to his death, he wrote, "I am going on an all right. I have done my fifth little bit of duty out here and have come through safe, thank God."

The communications he sent from India during the first part of the war were, although much welcomed by his friends, in well guarded terms so as not to "give anything away." In the interview with a representative of this paper, he was also keen to observe the regulations laid down by the Press Bureau regarding information of strategic value.

Another son of Mr and Mrs Joyce, Mr Charles Joyce, is in Canada. He was formerly a soldier and completed his period of service five years ago. A cable has been sent to him, informing him of his brother's death.

Wellingborough News, March 26 1915, transcribed by Clive Wood

His last letter - Rushden Man Killed after Writing Home

We deeply regret to record the death of Sergt. J. E. Joyce, of the 2nd East Yorks Regiment, and of Windmill-road, Rushden. Mrs Joyce heard of his death in action from the War Office. He came from India in December and spent 48 hours leave at home at the end of the month. He went to the front on January 15th. He had served five months in the line. He was only 22 years of age and was made sergeant in India in April of last year. He died on March 9th from wounds received in Action. He worked at Mr J Knight's factory before he enlisted. His friends received a letter from him saying that he was well and hoped to get through safely, on the day he was killed. The deceased's parents have been deeply gratified by the many messages and words of condolence received.

The Rushden Echo Friday 17 September 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Grave - Belgian Priest's Letter

Mrs Joyce, of 1, Sartoris-road, Rushden, has through the kind instrumentalism of a friend, received the following letter from the Parish Priest of Dranoutre, Belgium, the rev. Father O. Delacauw:-

"Madame, I have searched after the grave of your dear son in the cemetery of my church, and found some grave that undoubtedly must be the grave of him, because the inscription is the following:-

9509 SERGT. J Joyce
2nd E Yorkshire Regiment
Died of wounds 9/3/15

The grave is situate in a very honourable place of the cemetery and is kept very clean. A cross is the only ornament, but the cross is the sign of our redemption and further resurrection, the symbol, too, of your Christian resignation in the big cross laid upon your mother-heart by the death of your beloved son. O. Delacauw, Parish Priest, Dranoutre, Belgium, Sept. 8th 1915."

The Rev. Father, in a postscript, says it is forbidden to take photographs, but he encloses a sketch of the cross on the grave.

The Rushden Echo Friday 9 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

JOYCE - In loving remembrance of my dear son, Sergt John Ernest Joyce, of the 2nd East Yorks, who gave his life for his King and country at Neuve Chapelle on March 9th, 1915. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

The Rushden Echo Friday 8 March 1918, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

JOYCE - In loving memory of my dear son, Sergt John Ernest Joyce, of the 2nd East Yorks, who gave his life for his King and country at Neuve Chapelle on March 9th, 1915. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

The Rushden Echo Friday 14 March 1919, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

JOYCE - In ever-loving memory of, Sergt John Ernest Joyce, East Yorks Regiment, the son of Mr and Mrs E Joyce, of 1 Sartoris-road, Rushden, who was killed in action in France on March 9th, 1915.

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