Joseph Vincent Cleaver was born in Oxford in 1878. His father was Thomas Howlett Cleaver who was born in Rugby and Jemima Mary (nee Vickers). Thomas met his wife in Alton, Staffordshire where her father worked at the stone quarry there. Thomas was a clerk and they married in 1870. By 1881, when Joseph was three, the family was living in Caldecote, near Nuneaton and Thomas was a builder’s agent. The family had returned to Rugby by 1891, living at Clifton Cottage in Bilton. Thomas was now a builder’s manager and thirteen year old Joseph was still at school. He was the third of nine children. In 1901 they were living at 51 Victoria Street and Thomas was a builder’s surveyor. Joseph was the eldest son still living at home. At 23 he was a brewer’s clerk.
By 1911 Thomas was a widower. He was a publican, living at the Horse and Jockey Inn in Lawford Road. Joseph was still living with him, a 33-year-old brewer’s clerk war (He was employed by the Leamington Brewery Company) together with his sister Zita, who was acting as housekeeper.
Joseph signed up in December 1915, one of the first to join up under Lord Derby’s Group System. He joined the 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Private no. 17860). He would have fought in the Battle of the Somme and other actions on the western front.
From 1st April the Royal Warwicks was at Camblain-Chatelaine involved in training. On the 7th, there was a route march to Bethon-sart, continuing to “X” camp the next day. By 11th April they were in Dug-outs S of Athies
War Diaries of 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
11 April 1917
2-3 a.m. Conference at Brigade Head Quarters and orders issued that 10th Brigade will attack at 12 noon Operation Order attached.
8.30 a.m. Battalion moved off to W. of Fampoux and arrived 10.00 a.m.
11.20 a.m. Battalion moved up to Assembly position on Sunken Road on E. edge of Fampoux and arrived 12 noon.
A & C Coys attack on 2 Coy frontage of 500x per Coy and B Coy follow in near as carriers.
12 noon Attack commences and 1st R. Irish Fus. and 2nd Seaforth Highlanders start going forward
12.10 p.m. A & C Coys followed by B Coy follow these Battalions, our Battalion supporting 1st R. Irish Fus. The enemy shelled our Assembly positions heavily and we had many casualties before starting.
The enemy’s M. Gun fire held up our attack almost from the start and the Brigade consolidated a line about 400x in front of the Assembly position.
Both Brigades on our right and left were held up also by M. Gun fire.
Enemy put up a heavy barrage on Assembly positions and vicinity.
Battalion dug in and held a line from Huddue Trench at H.18.a.0.9 to H.18.b,1,3 with Seaforth Highlanders on left and 1st R Irish Fus on right.
Enemy fairly quiet at night. Very cold and snow.
Officer casualties are given 2nd Lieuts 2 killed, 1 wounded and missing, 5 wounded.
Heavy shelling of Fampoux continued for several days and on the 20th Apr, the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Lincolnshire Regt.
Total casualties for the period 9th to 21st Incl.
Killed 2 Officers 43 Other Ranks (includes 10 died of wds since)
Wounded and missing 1 Officer – Other Ranks
Wounded 5 Officers 173 Other Ranks
Missing – Officers 33 Other Ranks
Missing believed wounded -Officers 1 Other Ranks.
Both Joseph Vincent Cleaver and Charles Henry Read died on 11th April, probably in this action
Joseph Vincent Cleaver was buried at Point-Du-Jour Military Cemetery, Athies
Rugby Advertiser, 12th May 1917 states
“… This is the second son Mr Cleaver (Gregory) has lost in action and two more, George and Austin were wounded earlier in the war.”
Thomas Howlett Cleaver died in 1919. Joseph’s next of kin was named, in the soldiers effects, as his sister Zita.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM