Staff Sergeant 8051, 1st Battn, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

IMG_1360Joseph’s parents were Robert Stephen Love and Fanny Helena Powis. Between 1881 and 1898 they had at least eight children: Thomas, Nellie, Robert (who may have died young), Fanny, Sylvia, Joseph, Alice and William, with the two youngest, Alice and William, born in Datchet.

In the 1881 census, the family was in Woking; in 1891 in Battersea; and in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, in Datchet.

Joseph was born in Battersea c1892.  He moved to Datchet, with his family sometime before 1895. His father, Robert, was working on the railway as a guard for L&SW and they lived at Station Cottages, Datchet. William, was born in the village in 1898, and both Joseph and William and no doubt some of the other children would have gone to school here.

Their mother, Fanny, died on 1 March 1900 and their father Robert married Ann Ellen Rumble on 14 July 1901. There were at least two more children, Frederick Charles born in 1903 and George Stephen born in 1905.

Robert died on 25 February 1911, age 54. His probate records show he left £173 12s to Ann Ellen Love.

Military service

Brothers Thomas, Joseph and William, all served in WWI.

Thomas had joined the military in 1897. He had listed his next of kin as living in Datchet before he was married in 1904. His wife, Bertha Alice, and first child, Jessie David, went to India with him and a second son, Robert George, was born there. A third son, Thomas Joseph, was later born back in the UK. Thomas was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Joseph joined the 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the same battalion as his brother Thomas. Joseph served in India, was attached to His Excellency The Governor of Bombay’s bands, and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He died on 17 November 1919 in Malta on his way home from India for six months’ leave. His Soldiers’ Effects documents show his place of death as Cottonera, Malta. He was buried in a military grave on the island. (Joseph was listed on the 1918 Absent Voters list at Station Cottages, Datchet.)

Joseph’s Soldiers’ Effects documents also list his family members: brother Thomas, sisters Fanny, Alice, Nellie Rumbold, Sylvia Wheeler, and half-brothers Frederick and George.

At the end of the war, the British Army had nearly four million soldiers to demobilise so it was impossible for them all to go home at once though most had returned home by the end of 1919. There were also peacetime obligations to fulfil so soldiers of the regular army remained until their period of service was complete. The fact that Joseph was coming home ‘on leave’ suggests that he may have joined the regular army before the war.

Although brothers Joseph and William grew up in the village and went to school here, neither is remembered on the War Roll or Memorial. This was possibly because their parents had died and their older brother Thomas was not in the village to put their names forward. (Thomas was also listed on Datchet’s 1918 Absent Voters List. He didn’t return home until December 1919 and then was living in Clapham with his wife and three children.) There is, however, an inscription in their memory on their parents’ grave in Datchet cemetery, see photograph above, which may have been commissioned by Thomas. The inscription dedicated to Joseph says that he died ‘on active service’.

Joseph died after peace was declared but there is at least one other Datchet soldier, Ronald Stanley, who died of flu on active service in 1919 after the end of the war and who is remembered on Datchet’s war memorial. Joseph is also listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. His name was added to Datchet’s memorial in November 2018.


Joseph’s medal cards:

The 1911 Census also lists another Love family next door at 2 Railway Cottages, High Street, Datchet. These were John Love, born c1882, a railway signalman, with his wife Elizabeth, and children. It is not known if this family is related but it seems likely.