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1895 - 1914

Early Life

WILLIAM JOYCE was born in the 1895 at Great Leighs, Essex, one of ten children born to Peter and Eliza Joyce (Joice) (née Hockley).


Peter and Eliza were married on the 1st November 1884 at the Parish Church, Felsted where they were both living. Peter was a Labourer. They had five sons and five daughters. William was their sixth child and third son.


The 1901 Census shows the family living at Chatham Green, William was 6 years old and his father was an Agricultural Labourer.


In 1911, William now aged 16 years, was an Agricultural Labour living at home with his parents and siblings.

Military Life

In 1914, William enlisted at Warley, Regimental No. 69171, and joined the 51st Battery of the Royal Field Artillery. It was originally formed with the 39th, 46th and 54th Batteries and attached to the 1st Infantry Division. In August 1914, it was mobilised and was sent to the Continent with the British Expeditionary Force, where it saw service with 1st Division throughout the war.

Death and Memorial

In the First Battle of Ypres from the 19th October to the 22nd November 1914 there was a limited offensive to capture Ypres and Mount Kemmel. It was here, William was killed in action on the 20th November. He was 19 years of age.


William was buried as an ‘Unknown British Soldier’ at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Zillebeke in Belgium.  On the 28th March 1927, his body along with several other men was exhumed for identification.


The men were originally ‘buried in blankets, fastened with puttees (a long strip of cloth wound spirally round the leg from ankle to knee for protection and support) and were evidently men of a Gun Team’. William was identified by his clothing and his boots marked ‘69171 RFA’. One piece of boot was forwarded to the Base.

He was re-interred with the seven other soldiers.

Menin Gate.jpg

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery



Plot 3.

Row H.

Grave 27/34.

William is also remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial.

Bay 5 Stone – M

William is also Remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham

Soldiers Effects.jpg

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929

On the 9th April 1915, his father Peter, as next of kin, received £8.14s.2d and a further payment was made on the 25th July 1919 of £5.

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William's Medal Card

William was awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1914 Star Medal.


William’s elder brother Arthur served in the Royal Garrison Artillery but was discharged as being no longer fit for War Service on the 30th June 1915. He died at home at Chatham Green on the 26th May 1916, aged 30 years from Tuberculosis.

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