Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius was my first cousin four times removed. We are both descended from Michael Ing and Mary Ann Macey who were his Grandparents, and my 4th Great Grandparents. Mary Ann and Michael were both born in Kent, and Michael was a brickfield labourer. They were married in 1850, and went on to have eight children. I am descended from their eldest daughter, Eliza Francis, while Joseph is descended from their youngest daughter, Clara Alice. Clara was born in Faversham, Kent in 1873. In her teenage years, she was a domestic servant, including being resident in London at the time of the 1891 census. She married Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius Sr. in July of 1892 when she was 19, and her husband was 21. Joseph Sr. was a brick maker like Clara’s father. Together Joseph and Clara had eleven children, many of whom followed in their family’s footsteps and also worked in brick making. Joseph Jr., however, took his own path. By the 1911 census, 18-year old Joseph was no longer living in Kent. He had joined the Royal Field Artillery and was living in the Woolwich Barracks in London. At some point in his time in London, he met Elizabeth Fryers, daughter of a journeyman carpenter at a chemical works in London. Joseph and Elizabeth married in July of 1914.
Less than two months after his marriage, Joseph was in France. The 37th battery of the RFA was put under the command of the 27th Battalion in the 5th Division. On December 25th, 1914, the Christmas day that so many men had said they were sure they would be home for, Joseph and Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Doris, was born. I do not have Joseph’s service record, so I cannot know for sure, but I dearly hope that at some point during his service, he was able to have leave to return to Britain to meet her.
In April 1917, the 37th Battery was one of the artillery units supporting the creeping barrage at the Arras offensive, the overall series of battles that included the famous operations and Vimy Ridge early in the month. Later on in April, though Vimy had been a success for the allies, the offensive had bogged down. In the war diary for the battalion, there is a description of a direct hit on the night of April 25-26.
I believe that when that gun of the 37th battery was hit, Gunner Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius was fatally wounded. He died at the 22 Casualty Clearing Station in Bruay on April 27, 1917: One hundred and one years ago yesterday. He is buried at the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension in Pas-de-Calais, France. I am honoured to share a the commemorative certificate from the CWGC for my cousin here.