ARCHIBALD BONIFACE SILAS JOYCE was born in St Catherines, Shalford, Guildford on 21st May 1872, the son of John and Frances Joyce, and brother of Henry Moses (born Croydon 1866), John Charles (born Guildford 1867), Albert Edward, (born Guildford 1869), Adolphus Frederick (born Guildford 1874), Ellen E (born Rudgwick 1876), Frances E (born Billingshurst 1878), Lilly Rose (born Sullington 1880) Ernest Alfred Joyce*(born Sullington 1882) and Maud (born 1885).
In 1881 the family were living in Sullington Lane, Sullington, Sussex, and by 1891 the had moved to Ashurst, Sussex. On 18th February 1896, at the age of 24, Archibald travelled to Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth, and enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery (RMA), becoming Gunner 5828. His personal service record indicates that he gave his date of birth on enlistment as 21st May 1876 (four years after his actual date of birth).
SERVICE WITH THE ROYAL MARINE ARTILLERY
Archibald's physical description on enlistment was given as 5ft 8.5 inches tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion.
On the 7th April 1897, with his training completed, Archibald joined his first vessel, HMS 'Colossus', on which he was to serve until 4th April 1899. 'Colossus' was a Colossus class battleship launched on 21st May 1882. She was an example of cutting edge naval technology when she was first launched, incorporating an all steel hull (previous hulls had utilised large amounts of iron), compound armour (rather than iron armour) and breech loading, rifled main guns. She was also one of the last 'central citadel' type warships.
The main armament on 'Colossus' was four 12 inch Mk IV Rifled Breech-Loading (RBL) guns mounted in two turrets protected by a central armoured citadel. Each gun fired a shell weighing 714 pounds at a muzzle velocity of 1,914 ft/sec capable of piercing 20.4 inches of wrought iron at 1,000 yards. Her secondary armament was five 6 inch RBLs: two broadside in the forward superstructure, two in the aft superstructure and one at the stern in a rotating mount. As a Gunner with the RMA Archibald would have crewed these guns. During the period of his service aboard 'Colossus' she was stationed as a coast guard ship at Holyhead.
From 5th April to the 11th July 1899 Archibald was shore based before joining HMS 'Argonaut' (a protected cruiser) for 45 days prior to her commissioning at Chatham in 1900. He returned to the shore until 23rd November 1899 when Archibald was posted to HMS 'Revenge'. 'Revenge' was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Sovereign class and at the time Archibald served on her she was based in the Mediterranean between Crete and Malta. She was relieved on station by HMS 'Victorious' in April 1900 and returned to the United Kingdom, but Archibald remained in the Mediterranean, joining HMS 'Victorious' on 16th May 1900.
HMS 'Victorious' was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Majestic class, launched in 1895. She had just undergone a refit at Malta when Archibald joined her, and he would have served in her armament of four Breach Loading (BL)12 inch guns, twelve Quick Firing (QF) 6 inch guns, sixteen 12 pounder guns and twelve 3 pounder QF guns.
Breech of a 12 inch gun & HMS 'Victorious'
Archibald was to remain with 'Victorious' until 7th August 1903, when she returned to the United Kingdom and was paid off at Chatham. He returned to the RMA headquarters at Eastney Barracks until 18th July 1904 when he joined the battleship HMS 'Canopus', which at the time was returning from a major refit at Birkenhead to her home port of Portsmouth. On the 5th August 1904 the 'Canopus' was engaged on maneuvers in Mount's Bay (off Cornwall) when she was rammed and damaged by HMS 'Barfleur'. Archibald left the ship for shore service on 2nd September 1904, and boarded his last Royal Naval vessel, HMS 'Implacable' on 17th February 1905.
HMS 'Implacable' was a Formidable class battleship, launched in 1899 and armed with four 12 inch BL guns, twelve 6 inch guns, sixteen 12 pounder QF guns and six 3 pounder QF guns. She served in the Mediterranean Fleet, and suffered a boiler explosions whilst Archibald was serving with her. He left the vessel on 9th July 1906, returning to Eastney Barracks, where, on 17th February 1908, his term of twelve years service ended and Archibald left the RMA, being transferred to the Royal Navy Reserve.
RETURN TO CIVILIAN LIFE
On 25th December 1908 Archibald married Harriett Eleanor Shaw. Together with her two children Elsie Frederica Shaw (born Horsham 1902) and Frederick Puryer Shaw (born Horsham 1905). Initially they lived a Little Martins Cottages, Lynwick Street, Rudgwick, and by 1911 they lived at Watch Corner Cottages, Rudgwick. In 1910 Harriett gave birth to their first child, Francis Lily Joyce and Archibald was employed as an agricultural labourer. Also living in Rudgwick in Woes Cottage were Archibald's mother, Frances, together with his brothers John, Ernest and Adolphus.
MOBILISATION WITH THE FIRST WORLD WAR
On 2nd August 1914, with the deterioration of the political situation in Europe, Archibald was mobilised to return for service with the Royal Marine Artillery (RMA). His Medal Record indicates that he served with the RMA at Dunkirk in 1914, suffering a slight wound requiring hospitalisation from 7th-12th October 1914.
In early 1915 the RMA formed a Howitzer Brigade to operate on the Western Front with 15-inch Howitzers on field mountings. These unique guns were built by the Coventry Ordnance Works as a private enterprise, following their production of the 9.2-inch Howitzer which had served in France with the Royal Garrison Artillery's Siege Batteries since November 1914.
The 15 inch Breech Loading Siege Howitzer, which had a maximum range of 10,795 yards, firing a 1,400 pound shell. To move the Howitzers, the crew were required to dismantle it, each gun needing 11 trucks, some towed by 100 horsepower, steam driven tractors. Each gun had a crew of 5 officers and 83 other ranks. The RMA received 12 guns, 10 being employed on the Western Front, the first going into action on 6th March 1916. Their heavy shells and high trajectory were used in an attempt to defeat deeply dug defensive positions.
Unloading 15-inch Howitzer shells - 1917.
RMA men load a 15-inch Howitzer near the Menin Road - 1917.
On 6th December 1915 Archibald joined the British Expeditionary Force in France, to serve with No 6 Gun of the Howitzer Brigade, Royal Marine Artillery. He returned to England on leave from 6th to 16th January 1917, and was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on 27th September 1917 in respect of 15 years reckonable service.
THE THIRD BATTLE OF YPRES
On 31st July 1917 the Commonwealth forces opened a major offensive around the town of Ypres in Belgium. The battle, which has endured in national memory, became synonymous with the horrendous conditions endured by the soldiers on the Western Front and is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele after the village that became the geographic high tide mark of the Allied effort with it's capture on 10th November 1917. More correctly, this three and a half month action is subdivided into a series of battles with separate geographic objectives.
At the start of October 1917 Archibald and the men of No 6 Gun, Howitzer Brigade, RMA were involved with the Battle of Broodseinde, which had commenced on 4th October. With a range of a little over 6 miles, operating the 15-inch Howitzer would regularly place the man of the RMA within the range of German counter battery fire. On the 6th October No 6 Gun was located at Boseinghe (north of Ypres). An incident at No 6 Gun left Quarter Master Sergeant Albert Edward Avery and Gunner James Henry Wooller dead and a further 7 men wounded. Sgt Avery and Gunner Wooller were buried side by side in Talana Farm Cemetery, south of Boseinghe (presumably very close to the location of No 6 Gun).
The wounded men, including Archibald Joyce, were evacuated from the area to a Casualty Clearing Station at Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station on the west side of the Yser - Ypres canal. The following day Archibald and one of his colleagues, Samuel John Cooper, a Royal Navy armourer, succumbed to their wounds. The two men were laid to rest side by side. Two further men of the RMA, Gunners Joseph Heap and Sydney Sudbury, succumbed to wounds on the 7th at a Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem (7 miles west of Boseinghe). It is probable that these two men were also wounded with Archibald the previous day.
After his death Archibald's widow Harriett moved to 44, Queen Steet, Horsham, Sussex. She received his posthumous 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Northern area of the Third Battle of Ypres.
A - Duhallow ADS, B - Talana Farm Cemetery
Green arc indicates max range of 15-in How. (6miles) based on Broodseinde
Below: Duhallow A.D.S Cemetery
Photo with kind permission of Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com