Joe was a Sapper in 229th Field Company, Royal Engineers. He enlisted in Halifax on 18th May 1915, his occupation was a carpenter and he was living at 21 the Hough, Stump Cross Halifax. His next of kin was his wife Winifred Lillian (nee Young) whom he had married in 1913 and they had one child at the time who was born shortly after they had married, another child was born in January 1916.
Sapper Fearnley embarked for France on 18th December 1915, he was wounded on 7th September 1916, gunshot (GSW) to the left shoulder, after treatment he rejoined his unit on 25th September 1916. He was killed in action on 5th October 1916, aged 37.
The official notification of Joe’s death was returned to the War Office with “gone away” wrote on it. The Royal Engineers records office then wrote to the Halifax Police to ask if they could assist in finding the whereabouts of Mrs Fearnley. She was found to be living at Pye Nest Lodge, Rochdale Road, Halifax.
The CWGC details for Joe state: husband of Winifred Lillian Highley (formerly Fearnley), of West Field Farm, Warley, Halifax. It is not clear when or if Winfred remarried, she died in March 1956.
Joes parents were John and Maria he also had an older sister Eleanor and a younger sister Emma. In 1891 and 1901 the family were living at Back Fold Queensbury, (Maria died in late 1891). 1911 saw Joe and his sister Emma living at 19 Rhodes Street, Shipley and also listed at this address were Charles and Sarah Drake and their two children, Charles was also from Queensbury and like Joe was listed as a joiner (factory).
Joe Fearnley is buried at PHILOSOPHE BRITISH CEMETERY (I. G.19).
From the Halifax Courier dated 4th November 1916:
“News was received on Thursday by his wife that Sapper Joe Fearnley, Royal Engineers, whose home is Pye Nest Lodge, Kings Cross was killed in action on October 5th. Lieutenant Rayne, writing to Mrs Fearnley sends his sympathy and adds, we buried him in the cemetery here and have put up a cross above his grave. While Sapper Fearnley was with us I was delighted with his work. He was always so willing and eager and very cheerful. I was sorry to lose him when he went up to work with one of our other officers. He suffered no pain before his death as his wound was immediately fatal.
Sapper Fearnley, who was 37 years of age joined the army in May. He was a native of Queensbury but had lived in Halifax two years being a joiner in the employ of Mr Gaukrodger, Spring Hall lane. He leaves a widow and two children, one child being three years old and the other (which he has never seen) 9 months. He had been married 4 years, his wife being Miss Winnie Young.”