CWG: Gunner Joseph Symes

Gunner Joseph Symes

Joseph Symes was born in May 1876, and was the youngest of ten children to Joseph and Caroline Symes. Joseph Sr was a shoemaker who had been born in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, but who had moved to Bristol for work in the late 1860s.

As with some of his older siblings, Joseph Jr followed in his father’s shoemaking footsteps. He worked as a boot clicker, punching the eye holes in footwear, and cutter, taking the shaped pieces out of large leather hides.

In June 1905, he married Emily Delling, who was also from Bristol, and the couple went on to have a son, Douglas, a year later. The couple moved into a two-up-two-down terraced house in a cul-de-sac to the north east of the city centre.

War was coming to the British Isles. Full details of Joseph’s military service no longer exist; however, his gravestone confirms that he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery.

There is no documentation to confirm whether Gunner Symes saw active service abroad; he certainly survived the war, but in February 1919 was discharged on medical grounds, suffering from myalgia. He was granted a pension, and the family soon replaced the busy city life for a quieter one down the coast in Weston-super-Mare.

Joseph’s trail goes cold for a couple of years, and he passed away on 4th March 1921, at the age of 44 years old. Sadly, there is nothing to confirm the cause of his death; it seems likely that his ongoing medical condition got the better of him.

Joseph Symes was laid to rest in the Milton Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare.


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