Joseph Hypolite Blareau

Rank Lance Corporal
Service No 591989
Date of Death 22/08/1918
Age 22
Regiment/Service London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) 1st/18th Battalion.
Cemetery Bray Vale British Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme, France. Bray-sur-Somme is a village 8 kms south-east of Albert and 16 kms west of Peronne. The British Cemetery consisted originally of the 25 graves (of August 1918) but it was enlarged soon after the Armistice when further graves were brought in from the neighbourhood. The cemetery contains 279 First World War burials, 172 of them unidentified.


Joseph was born in 1896 in West Dulwich, south London, to Zephirin Blareau (1865-1899), who was born in Rickmansworth and was at one time a French teacher, and his wife Sarah Jane, nee Mockeridge (b.1867). He was baptised on 7th May 1896 at St Luke’s, West Norwood. Joseph had three older sisters, Amy Therese (1889-1966), Lilian (1891-1979) and Gertrude (1893-1980).

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family were living at 207 Hornsey Road, Islington. Zephirim was employed as a mercantile book-keeper.

When he was just three years old, Joseph’s father died and, on 28th March 1903, his mother married William Prael Stevens (1855-1911) in St Mary’s Hornsey Rise. Sarah and William had one daughter, Ruby (1904-2002). After William’s death in 1911, Sarah and her children moved from Hornsey to Pencliffe, 19 Bow Lane, Finchley.

Upon leaving school at 15, Joseph found employment as a Junior Clerk, before enlisting in Chelsea with the London Regiment. He served in France with 2nd/18th Battalion from 24th June 1916 to 9th August 1916 and then with the 1st/18th Battalion from 25th March 1917 until his death.

Joseph was killed in action as part of the forces that were seeking to retake Bray-sur-Somme. The village had been over-run by the Germans in their Spring Offensive and was being used as a major forward supply base and communications hub. By the fourth week of August 1918, in what proved to be the most sweltering heat of the year, the Hundred Days Offensive brought Bray-sur-Somme back into the immediate frontline for the final time.