Joining up underage, Joe trained with the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers, serving with them on the western front in 1917 and 1918.
On 31 March, Joe was caught in a fearsome concentration of German artillery fire.
I got hit. I remember seeing this big black cloud go up the side of the ditch. When I came to myself, I was lying back up the road among a lot of dead Frenchmen. I jumped straight up – and went straight down again! I thought: “Well the leg’s away!” I tore the trousers down. The piece of shrapnel had cut the sciatic nerve, chipped both hip joints, smashed the left side of the pelvis, three holes in the bladder.
The blood was running – and I had lost my nose – a right bloody mess. The ambulance took me to an old farm house. They must have bandaged me there. When I came around it was dark, and I was lying on a stretcher. I didn’t know what was the matter with me and it turned out there was a blanket over the top of me – I was left for dead!