Pte Joseph Elliot


Joseph was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557 and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers clearly show he was on war service.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms on the 20th April 1908, Joseph was initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on the 18th May and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on the 20th July 1908. He was proposed by Bro. James Bowmaker and was a 32 year old Clerk living at Bigges Main, Wallsend, Northumberland. It’s worth noting that Joseph’s brother William was also a member of Lodge Temperance 2557 having joined the Lodge a year earlier.

Joseph went on to become a founding member of Lodge Fortitude no. 4017 which met in the Masonic Hall, Edwin Street, Byker. The Lodge held its first meeting on 18th June 1919 and was officially consecrated 13th January 1920.

Joseph was born in Dinnington, Northumberland in 1875, the son of John (1853 – 1936) and Hannah Elliott. John was born in Seaton Burn and although starting his working life as a miner, by 1891, was an insurance agent for the Prudential Insurance Company. He married Hannah Moody (b 1855 – d 1936) on 21st November 1874 in Ponteland, Northumberland. They had at least 6 Children although one didn’t survive infancy.

Joseph (b 30/07/1875)
William (b 1877)
Isabella (b 1880)
Eda (b 1887 – d 1974)
Arthur (b 1891)
Daniel (b 1896 – d 1896)

Joseph married Emily Annie Widdrington (1873 – 1929) in Lewisham, London on 1st June 1904. Emily’s father was an inn keeper and beer retailer, at one time running the Mason’s Arms at Bigges Main. Emily helped out and variously worked for him as a bar maid and beer retailer.

Joseph and Emily had at least three children:

Sarah Gladys (b 25 Dec 1904)
John Widdrington (b 2/08/1906)
Hannah Rhoda (b 1908)

Joseph enlisted for the duration of the war on 28th September 1916 and was assigned as a private to the 2/5th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) with service number 2609 and shortly after was transferred to the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry with service no. 38784.

Despite being passed as physically fit at his enlistment it would appear Joseph had several medical issues he brought with him into the army. He complained in a variety of ways of weakness of his back and bowel and defective eyesight which were investigated by military doctors at various times without success.  The officer in charge of his medical case concluded that Joseph “is not a healthy looking man that I fail to find anything to account for his complaints. He is not likely to become an efficient soldier”. He recommended Joseph be discharged as permanently unfit.

Joseph never saw active service overseas spending several months in hospital undergoing tests and being transferred to various battalions ending with the 1st Garrison Battalion, Highland Light Infantry where he was discharged on 2nd January 1918 as no longer physically fit for war service Kings Regulations para 392 XVI. Joseph did apply for a war pension but on appeal it was rejected as the tribunal unanimously decided that his unfitness was not attributable to or aggravated by military service in consequence of the war.

Joseph was in receipt of the silver war medal given to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service. Its introduction was in part due to the practice where some women took it upon themselves to confront and publicly embarrass men of fighting age they saw in public places who were not in military uniform.

After the war Joseph became a commercial traveller and remained a resident of Wallsend.