Submitted by Michael Kent.
Joseph Hatton was my dad. I only recently learnt about his early life. Dad never spoke about the First World War. He was born 20 February 1896 in Bradford and had three sisters and two brothers. My dad never told me that grandad was a train driver in the 1890’s, or that I had a half brother born in 1915, that he lost his father in 1919 and his wife, when he was in his early twenties. I do not know what happened or where he went from 1922 until 1950 when he was living in London where I was born thirty years later, in 1952.
10724 Private Joseph Hatton was recruited in Yorkshire in August 1914 and served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (3rd West Riding) as a Reserve. After training in England he was sent to the Western Front in 1915. In May of that year he was poisoned by gas. My dad didn’t die, unlike so many around him who suffered this cruel death, but he was evacuated via Boulogne to Manchester Western General Hospital to recover. He was posted again in December 1915. In March 1916 he was then posted to the 9th Battalion and embarked for France again in April. He had a few days leave in Etaples and then returned to the front. He was wounded in July 1916 by a shell explosion killing many men. Dad lost his hand. He was put on a train back to England. He was discharged as unfit for service in April 1917 having served for 2yrs and 250days. He received the Victory Medal, British War Medal, 1914/15 Star, Kings Certificate and War Badge.
Growing up, all I knew about Dad’s past was that he had been a Royal Arch Druid in the 59th Chapter and that he worked as a civil servant in London, in the social security or pensions department. He drove a car, we went on holidays, he liked a pint, smoked a pipe and was very sociable. How could he tell me of the horrors of war and his losses? Dad retired to Cambridge and died in 1973 when I was 20.
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