Salford WW1 hero who made 100 enemy soldiers surrender to HIM to be honoured in home town with paving stone

A Salford World War One hero who forced more than 100 enemy soldiers to surrender to him will be remembered with the unveiling of a paving stone.

Sergeant Joseph Lister VC will be honoured on Sunday when between 1050-11am the Lancashire Fusiliers parade down Devonshire St and up Rigby St to arrive at the front of Broughton Hub.

Wounded in the 1916 Battle of the Somme, on October 9 1917 Sgt Lister single-handedly captured a gun and guard post and forced the mass of enemy soldiers to surrender to him.

He was serving with the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers when he risked his life to save his comrades as they came under fire at Passchendaele Ridge in Belgium – earning him the Victoria Cross (VC).

Councillor Anne-Marie Humphreys, chair of the World War One Centenary Partnership, said: “The Victoria Cross is the highest award which can be given to members of the armed forces in the face of the enemy.

“His bravery and courage was incredible.”

On Oct 9 Joseph and his battalion were on patrol and came under heavy machine gun fire from two dug-in guard posts.

Despite being shot at, Joseph dashed ahead of his men and found a machine gun firing from a shell hole in front of the concrete guard post, known as pillboxes because of their hexagonal shape.

Joseph shot two of the enemy gunners and the remainder surrendered to him. He then went on to the pillbox and shouted to the occupants to surrender.

They did so with the exception of one man, whom he also shot dead. Another 100 men then emerged from shell holes behind the pillbox and surrendered.

Joseph’s “prompt act of courage enabled our line to advance with hardly a check and to keep up with the barrage, the loss of which might have jeopardised the whole course of the local battle,” wrote the London Gazette in 1917.

Joseph’s bravery has also been recognised with a tribute in Belgium close to the site of his action. On September 30 a memorial was placed at the site of his ‘deed of outstanding valour’ in Langemark-Poelcapelle, Flanders.

He was also awarded the Military Decoration by Belgium which is presented to military personnel for exceptional service or acts of courage.

Although born in Salford in 1886, Joseph settled in Reddish in 1901 and returned there after the war. He worked at Lowes Chemicals before becoming a school crossing patrolman.

He died in 1963 and is buried at Willow Grove Cemetery with his wife Harriet and some of their children.

A blue plaque has also been placed on his former home in Reddish and a second paving stone commemorating him as a Victoria Cross winner will be unveiled nearby by the Friends of Stockport Cemeteries and Stockport Council.  

His great-granddaughter Debbie Williamson will travel from Ireland for the ceremony. 

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