Coleshill Remembers World War 1
As a free service to the World War 1 commemoration year, ST-IT Limited have created and are hosting a free database of Coleshill connected veterans.
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Entry for Private Joseph Fitzgerald
1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Year of Birth
Date of Death
Joseph Fitzgerald was born in 1885 in Birmingham to parents Bartholomew and Pauline Fitzgerald. The family lived in Ladywood, Birmingham. Joseph’s father died in 1894 and the family fell on hard times. Pauline was sent to the workhouse several times and so Joseph was sent to the St Paul’s Home for Boys, Coleshill, and then the St Vincent’s Home, Moseley Road, Birmingham. He left in June 1899 and was sent to live in Ramsgate. At some point after this he returned to Birmingham and enlisted in the Army, and served abroad with the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (service number 9259). Private Fitzgerald was awarded the Indian General Service Medal 1908 with two bars. In 1911 he was serving in Ceylon & India. At the outbreak of WW1 the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment were at Shorncliffe, Kent, forming part of the 10th Brigade, 4th Division. They were quickly mobilised and landed in France on 22nd August 1914, after initially being held back to defend England against a possible German invasion. The Battalion provided reinforcements at the Battle of Le Cateau and saw action at the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and the Battle of Messines. They also took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914. At the beginning of February 1915 the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment were away from the frontline trenches for a few days, and billeted near Steenwerk in northern France, close to the border with Belgium. On the 8th February a group of men left their billets to have a look around and buy some food locally. They were returning to their billets along the railway in the evening when a light engine came and accidentally killed two of the men: Private Allen Yapp and Private Joseph Fitzgerald. Both men were buried the next day in La Creche Communal Cemetery. Private Fitzgerald was posthumously awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Allied Victory medals. He is also remembered on the War Memorial in St Teresa and the Sacred Heart, Coleshill.
Birmingham Daily Mail 1st March 1915 LOCAL VICTIMS BIRMINGHAM SOLDIERS KILLED IN ACTION News has been received by Mr H.W. Beck, superintendent of St Vincent’s Home, Moseley Road, that Private Joseph Fitzgerald, 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on the 8th of February. Fitzgerald was an old boy of St Vincent’s.