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Joseph Thompson Maddison (1897-1918)

Frosterley man served in the Machine Gun Corps commemorated by an oak tree at Wolsingham Grammar School

The following information has been contributed by Tom from Wolsingham School:
Joseph Thompson Maddison was born in 1897 and his family home was in Frosterley, County Durham. He was one of four sons born to Joseph Maddison and Sarah Jane Maddison. At the time of the 1911 Census Joseph and his younger brother Kenneth Raymond Maddison were both scholars at Wolsingham Grammar School. His older brother John worked as a secretary at West Kilburn Iron Mongers in Bishop Auckland.

At the time of his attestation into the army Joseph Thompson Maddison was working as a shop assistant at Middlesbrough Co-operative stores following training at his local Co-operative Store in Frosterley.

Joseph’s death was reported in the Auckland Chronicle dated 17 October 1918 which contains a letter written by his commanding officer to Joseph’s family. The officer describes him as “highly popular with everyone and respected by all.” The officer tells of his friendship with Joseph and how he “had been my batman from the time he joined the company.” The article gives further details about Joseph’s death, describing how “a shell landed on top of his dug-out, smashing it”. The officer adds that “when found his eyes were closed quite naturally, and he looked absolutely peaceful.”

The additional information has been added to Joseph’s story:
At the time of the 1901 census Joseph senior was working as a limestone quarryman. By the time of the 1911 census however he had changed his occupation to rent collector.

Joseph attested at Dunkeld in Perthshire on 4 December 1915, initially joining the 3/2nd Scottish Horse Yeomanry. He began serving as a private with the service number 6430 but was promoted to the rank of Acting Lance Corporal in June of the following year. At the beginning of January 1917, on his arrival in France, Joseph was transferred to the 1/6th Black Watch Royal Highlanders Battalion. He reverted to his previous rank of private with the service number 7556.

Two months later on 28 April, Joseph was again transferred. This time it was to serve with the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). He was posted to the 1st Company MGC on 12 June 1917 as a private with the service number 7556. Joseph was granted two weeks leave in England in January 1918, returning to his unit in the field on 23 January. Following this time at home, he served with the MGC for another eight months until his death in September 1918. Joseph is buried at Bellicourt British Cemetery in Aisne, France. He is remembered on several memories in Wolsingham and his home village of Frosterley.

Wolsingham Grammar School planted 18 oak trees during 1918 and 1919, each commemorating an old scholar at the school who lost their life serving in the First World War. The following inscription appears on a plaque by the trees: “These trees were planted in memory of Old Boys who fell in the Great War “non timidi pro patria mori”.

Joseph’s death was reported in the Wolsingham Grammar School magazine, The Phoenix. The following description of Joseph appeared alongside the announcement: “ Thompson Maddison is yet another School Athlete who has fallen during the war. He was a Junior Athletic Champion, and was gifted with great strength and activity. We have pleasant recollections of his frank and manly bearing and of his soldierly figure in his uniform of the Scottish Horse.”

Civil Parish: Wolsingham

Birth date: 1897

Death date: 28-Sep-1918

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Railway Terrace, Frosterley (1901 Census)
Gladstone House, Frosterly (1911 Census, Service Records)

Education: Wolsingham Grammar School

Religion: Some papers in the service record say Nonconformist, others say Church of England

Employment: Shop Assistant: Middlesbrough Co-operative Store

Family: Parents: Joseph Maddison, Sarah Jane Maddison
Siblings: Thomas William Maddison, John Maddison, Kenneth Raymond Maddison

Military service:

3/2nd Scottish Horse Yeomanry
Lance Corporal
Service Number 6430
1/6th Royal Highlanders
Service number 7556
Machine Gun Corps
Service 73637

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Plaque 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Photos 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Trees 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Plaque 1914-18, Primitive Methodist Church, Frosterley (now at Stanhope Methodist Church)
Clock and plaque 1914-18 1939-45, Village Institute, Frosterley
ROH 1914-18, Town Hall, Stanhope

Gender: Male

Contributed by Tom Harding, Wolsingham School

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