Born at Fockerby in June 1896, Joseph was the youngest son and one of the four children of George and Elizabeth Gilleard (nee Scholey). Both of his parents were also born in Garthorpe. The family lived in Main Street, Fockerby where Joseph’s father was a farmer. In 1911 Joseph was a ‘farmer’s boy’ helping him on the farm.
From his service number Arthur enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Goole in 1916, from where he was posted to the 11th (Reserve) Battalion for training at Rugeley. At some point during his service, most probably after completing his training and being posted to France, Joseph was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment who served with 20th Brigade in 7th Division.
In 1916 the 2nd Border’s were heavily engaged in the Battle of the Somme and then the following Operations on the Ancre suffering heavy casualties in both actions. In January they occupied trenches around Beaumont-Hamel where they came under attack and suffered more casualties.
At some point during this period Joseph was wounded and sent home to recover and recuperate at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire. A massive military hospital, reputedly the longest building in the world when it was built in 1863, during the War hutted extensions meant that the hospital could care for over two thousand patients at a time. Equipped with its own pier and railway station, it is estimated that during the conflict approximately 50000 patients were treated at the hospital. The fatality rate was about one in eighteen and on 8th February 1918, Joseph Gilleard was one of the fatalities.
His body was brought home for burial and as Fockerby is in Adlingfleet Parish, Joseph was buried in the churchyard of All Saint’s Church, Adlingfleet.
The memorial on his gravestone reads ‘A Hero Laid To Rest’.
Joseph was the cousin of George Gilleard.