b. 19/10/1886 Salford. d. 19/01/1963 Stockport, Cheshire.
Joseph Lister (1886-1963) was born at 65 Fenney Street, Higher Broughton, Salford, Manchester, Lancashire on 19th October 1886. His father, also Joseph, was born in Scotland, and was a bookmaker. He moved to Derbyshire where he in Hayfield, he married Nancy Gee in 1877. They returned to Manchester in c. 1880. Joseph junior had three siblings – Esther, Nancy and Florence.
Joseph was educated until 1899 probably in Broughton and Harpurhey. He was a member of the St Elizabeth’s Boys’ Brigade in Reddish, near Stockport and was employed as a labourer at Lowe’s Chemical Works in Reddish. He married Harriet McAulay in 1911 in Stockport. They lived at Prenton View, Reddish before moving to 25 David Street. They had seven children – Eva, Neil, Victor, Mary, Esther, Joan, and Jack.
Joseph enlisted on 7th September 1914 and trained with 11th Battalion at Codford on Salisbury Plain, at Boscombe, Dorset and Malplaquet Barracks, Aldershot, Hampshire. He went to France on 25th September 1915. He was evacuated with trench fever in early 1917, returned to France ten weeks later and may have transferred to 1st Battalion at that time. Joseph was recommended for the DCM before the VC action.
On 9th October 1917 east of Ypres, Belgium, seeing that the advance of his company was held up by machine-gun fire from the direction of a pillbox, Sergeant Lister dashed ahead of his men and found the gun - he shot two of the gunners and the remainder surrendered. He then went to the pillbox and shouted to the occupants to surrender. They did so with the exception of one man whom the sergeant shot, whereupon about 100 of the enemy emerged from the shell-holes further to the rear and surrendered.
Joseph returned to England in December 1917. The VC was presented by the King at Buckingham Palace on 19th December. He was given a civic reception in Reddish, including a torchlight procession to the Town Hall, and was presented with gifts of money from his former workmates. He was also awarded the Belgian Medaille Militaire. He was also wounded four times in the mouth, shoulder and leg, though none was serious enough to warrant evacuation. Later he recovered from gassing at Temple Road Military Hospital, Birkenhead. He returned home in May 1918 to further receptions. He was discharged in 1919.
Postwar, Joseph became a postman in Reddish and later was a watchman at Craven’s works. By 1939 he was a chief watchman there. He was a life member of Houldsworth Working Men’s Club. He attended the VC Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 26th June 1920 and the VC Dinner at the House of Lords in 1929. He served in the Lancashire Fusiliers in the Second World War and afterwards worked as a school crossing attendant until forced to retire due to his wife’s ill health.
He attended the Victory Day celebration at the Dorchester in 1946 and the VC Centenary Celebrations at Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1956. Joseph died at Stockport Infirmary on 19th January 1963. He was buried in Willow Grove Cemetery, Reddish, Stockport and was named on the Roll of Honour in St Elisabeth’s Church, Reddish. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and Belgian Medaille Militaire. The VC was listed for sale by Eugene Ursal from Canada fo $C26,500 in 1986. It was purchased privately by Michael Ashcroft in 1991 and is displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IW MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: WILLOW GROVE CEMETERY, REDDISH, STOCKPORT, CHESHIRE..
Joseph Lister's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Musuem, London
SECTION P, GRAVE 9931
War Illustrated, 5th January 1918
Houldsworth Working Men's Club
Reddish, near Stockport, Cheshire