Joel Halliwell VC

b. 29/12/1881 Middleton, Lancashire. d. 14/06/1958 Oldham, Lancashire.

Joel Halliwell (1881-1958) was born in Middleton, Lancashire on 29th December 1881. As a child he lived for a time at 8 Burton Street with younger siblings Eliza, Herbert and Thomas before the family moved to 20 Parkfield. Joel followed his father James into the labourious work of the cotton mills before the Great War broke out in 1914. Although Joel was actually aged 33 by this time, he was still unmarried and immediately signed up to fight for his country, joining the 11th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. His records indicate that he was living at 3 Parkfields Street by this time and his Regimental Number was 9860.

Joel Halliwell VC

On 27 May 1918, Halliwell was captured by the Germans and remained a prisoner with them for a short time before he managed to escape. On his way back to the British lines, seeing many wounded comrades lying on the ground, he mounted a stray German horse which he rode back to pick up a wounded man and brought him back to safety, in spite of heavy shellfire. He went on to repeat this process, back and forth, through heavy enemy gunfire, with no thought for his own safety, some ten times, until his horse received a severe wound and he could no longer continue.

Lance Corporal Halliwell was a modest man, maintaining that he had simply done as he was told and that any other man in his battalion would have done what he had done if they had the chance, as they never thought of anything but their duty.

He returned to Middleton where he was celebrated a hero. Thousands rallied to witness the Civic Parade laid on to welcome Joel and to see this brave man of our town for themselves. He modestly maintained that he had simply done what any comrade would have done having had the chance as it was only their duty. How he wasn’t hit himself is nothing short of a miracle but saving his comrades was foremost on his mind rather than that of his own safety.

He received the Victoria Cross for valour (London Gazette 25th July 1918), the highest award possible, and remains the only Middleton man to date to have recieved this honour. He was presented with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 11th September 1918. He went on to marry Sarah Greaves in 1920, have 3 children and run The New Inn on Long Street. He even tried to enlist to fight in WW2 but by this time, his age went against him and he was refused.

He died on 14th June 1958, aged 76, his funeral having full military honours, and is buried in Boarshaw Cemetery, Middleton, Lancashire. In 2011, a new headstone was erected over his grave. On 27th May 2014 Corporation Street was renamed LCpl Joel Halliwell V.C. Way in his honour. His medal group including the VC, British War Medal (1914-20), Victory Medal (1914-19), King George VI Coronation Medal (1937) and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953) are not publicly held.






John Patterson – Image of his replica medal group at Lancashire Fusiliers Museum, Bury, Lancashire.