Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Altham, Joseph - Gunner

(No soldier photo available)
64 Anti-tank Regiment,
Royal Artillery,
Died on 6th October 1943.
Age 21  

On 4th October, the British infantry near the Italian port of Termoli came under heavy fire from German tanks and artillery and were forced to retire.  They were covered by the anti-tank guns of Gunner Joseph Altham's unit.  All their guns except one were knocked out as they fired at point-blank range.  Joseph was killed in this heroic action.  His Major wrote to his mother "Joseph set an example to the rest of the battery by his splendid action in firing his gun to the last.  In the opinion of his comrades he fully deserved the Victoria Cross for his gallantry and self-sacrifice.  He will be recommended for a posthumous V.C." (The recommendation was unsuccessful).  

Joseph was the son of Edal, and the late Richard Altham.  He attended St. John's Stonefold School and the Haslingden Council School.  He worshipped at Baxenden Methodist Church.  Before he joined the army in 1942 he worked at the Gaghills Slipper Works, Waterfoot. 

Joseph lies in the Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy.  The cemetery holds a total of 2,617 Commonwealth graves.  Almost all the men died in the advance up the Adriatic Coast, Joseph lies in Plot 15, Row C, Grave 32.