Joseph Edward Woodall VC

b. 01/06/1896 Salford, Greater Manchester. d. 02/01/1962 Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

Joseph Edward Woodall (1896-1962) was born in Robinson Street, off Regent Road, Salford, Greater Manchester on 1st June 1896. His father worked for the London and North Western Railway Company as a train driver. Joseph went to St Ambrose Infants’ School and when the family moved to Beech Street, Patricroft, Eccles, Manchester, he went to St Michael’s Junior School and Beech Street School. His family moved again in 1903 and settled at 39 Bridgewater Street, Winton, Eccles. When he finished school he began working at a local newsagent and later at Ermen and Roby’s Mill in Cawdor Street, Patricroft and afterwards at George Mort’s Quilt Manufacturers, Leigh Street, where he was employed as a jobber.

Joseph E Woodall VC

On 2nd September 1914 he enlisted with the 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) with army number Z1030. On 22nd April 1918, during an attack on La Pannerie, France, Sjt. Woodall was in command of a platoon which, during an advance, was held up by a machine gun. On his own initiative he rushed forward and, single-handed, captured the gun and eight men. After the objective had been gained, heavy fire was encountered from a farmhouse some 200 yards in front. Sjt. Woodall collected ten men and, with great dash and gallantry, rushed the farm and took thirty prisoners. Shortly afterwards, when the officer in command was killed, he took entire command, reorganised the two platoons, and disposed them most skilfully.

He was presented with the VC in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace by King George V on 23rd November 1918. When he arrived back in Eccles he was met at the Town Hall by the Mayor, who escorted him with a brass band to the Palladium Cinema, where he was presented with an illuminated address and some cash from a locally organised public fund.

He stayed in the Army after the war and on 7th March 1919 became a Second Lieutenant with one of the Service Battalions of The Rifle Brigade. He retired from the Army as a Captain on 1st September 1921. After he left the army he was presented with a bicycle by George Mort, one his former employers, although he was not offered his old job back. However, he did get a position with the Royton Mill in Oldham but had a severe setback when he lost part of his arm while working with an unfenced scotching machine. He was retrained and was given the job of a grey buyer for the United Turkey Red Company in Manchester. At some point he moved with the family to Bramhall in Cheshire and from there in 1955 he moved to Dun Laoghaire in Southern Ireland.

He married Rosanna Leighton and they had two children, Patricia and David. Woodall did not attend the 1956 VC Centenary Celebrations, although he did attend a Festival of Remembrance in Dublin in November 1956, along with three other VCs – Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, Jack Moyney VC and James Duffy VC. Woodall died at St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire on 2nd January 1962, after being found by his neighbour Joseph King, with burns to his legs and body following a seizure. He died of bronchial pneumonia brought on by the burns. Woodall was buried in Dean’s Grange Cemetery in a plot owned by Joseph King who was later also buried in the same plot his name engraved on the headstone, but not Woodall’s.

The Mid-Antrim Friends of the Somme group decided to raise funds for a headstone after learning from Great War Researcher Liam Dodd that Joseph Woodall VC, who served with the 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, was not recognised in Dean’s Grange Cemetery, Dublin. On the 2nd January 2010 a prestigious ceremony took place in Dean’s Grange Cemetery where a headstone was unveiled to commemorate the life of Captain Joseph Woodall VC. (Owing to the wishes of the King family, the Woodall memorial stone was not placed over his actual burial spot but located elsewhere in the cemetery)

Woodall’s medals including the VC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, were placed on loan to the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester. In November 2007, the medals were then moved on loan to the Imperial War Museum, London where they are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.