Joseph was the son of John Evenson and his wife Mary Ann (nee Leech). Although the census returns of 1901 and 1911 indicate that he was born in Brown Lees, his birth was registered in 1892 in Congleton. The 1911 census gave their surname as Eveson. In 1911 Joseph was working as an Iron-Moulder labourer. The only marriage found for a Joseph Evenson took place in 1913 in Macclesfield to Jessie Podmore. It is unknown if this is the Joseph from Railway Cottages.
Joseph enlisted at Biddulph in August 1914 and gave his address as 84, Railway Cottages. He joined the 8th Battalion of the Prince of Wales North Staffordshire Regiment. The twenty two year old left his parents’ home at Brown Lees and took the train south to Bristol, where he was to carry out his basic training. This was followed by more intensive training at Weston-super-Mare and Tidworth.
His battalion was attached to 19th Western Division and they were inspected by King George V on June 20th 1915. Joseph would have known many of the men from the Biddulph area who also served in 8th Staffords. The division received orders to prepare for war and with ID tags issued and kit packed the men boarded an old troop ship to cross the Channel. They arrived on July 18th and then moved forward to their assembly point at St Omer.
Late September 1915 found the infantry troops in a supporting and diversionary action in the Battle of Loos. The battalion spent the winter defending their line in this area of Flanders; four days in the trenches, four days in the back area and four days in a safe rest area was the normal routine. There was no Christmas truce this year. By the spring of 1916 the men were in the La Bassee and Laventie district of Flanders. Although in various companies of the battalion, the comradeship of the Biddulph men would bring a sense of togetherness to the lives of these brave soldiers: Jonathan Barlow, Harry Bailey, Arthur Lacey, Jack Moss and Harold Simpson. Soon these mates would sadly lose their pal Joe; he was the first to fall on the field.
It was on March 6th 1916 when Joseph Evenson died in battle at Laventie. Private Evenson is now at rest in the Rue-de-Bacquerot, No. 1 Military Cemetery, Laventie. He is remembered on the Biddulph memorials and also on the Brown Lees memorial board.
Elaine Bryan & Mike Turnock.