A simple paving stone will be unveiled on Sunday October 8 to mark the bravery of World War One Salford hero Sergeant Joseph Lister VC.

His great-grandaughter will travel from Ireland for the ceremony in Broughton where Joseph was born. The paving stone is being placed at the entrance to Broughton Hub, Rigby Street and is one of four tributes being paid to the hero who was wounded in the Battle of the Somme and awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) at the Third Battle of Ypres a year later.

Councillor Anne-Marie Humphreys, chair of the World War One Centenary Partnership, said: “The Victoria Cross is the highest award which can be given to members of the armed forces in the face of the enemy. Joseph single-handedly captured a gun and guard post and forced over 100 enemy soldiers to surrender to him. His bravery and courage in doing so was incredible.”

Joseph was 29 when he enlisted in 1915. He was serving with the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers when he risked his life to save his comrades as they came under fire at Passchendaele Ridge in Belgium on October 9, 1917.

He and his battalion were on patrol and came under heavy machine gun fire from two dug-in guard posts. Despite being shot at, Joseph dashed ahead of his men and found a machine gun firing from a shell hole in front of the concrete guard post, known as pillboxes because of their hexagonal shape.

Joseph shot two of the enemy gunners and the remainder surrendered to him. He then went on to the pillbox and shouted to the occupants to surrender. They did so with the exception of one man, whom he also shot dead. Another 100 men then emerged from shell holes behind the pillbox and surrendered.

The London Gazette in 1917 described his actions as “most conspicuous bravery in attack” and said his “prompt act of courage enabled our line to advance with hardly a check and to keep up with the barrage, the loss of which might have jeopardised the whole course of the local battle.”

Joseph’s bravery has also been recognised with a tribute in Belgium close to the site of his action. Last month (Saturday September 30) a memorial was placed at the site of his ‘deed of outstanding valour’ in Langemark-Poelcapelle, Flanders, Belgium by the Burgemeester (City Mayor) of the town, the Governor of West Flanders, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Western Front Association. Jpseph was also awarded the Military Decoration by Belgium which is presented to military personnel for exceptional service or acts of courage.

Although born in Salford in 1886, Joseph settled in Reddish in 1901 and returned there after the war. He worked at Lowes Chemicals before becoming a school crossing patrolman. He died in 1963 and is buried at Willow Grove Cemetery with his wife Harriet and some of their children.

A blue plaque has also been placed on his former home in Reddish and a second paving stone commemorating him as a Victoria Cross winner will be unveiled nearby by the Friends of Stockport Cemeteries and Stockport Council.


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