Naval General Service Medal, GV, bar Persian Gulf 1909-14, Stoker 1st Class Joseph “Joe” Henry Howard, HMS Proserpine.
Officially impressed: “230816 J.H. Howard. Sto. 1. CL. H.M.S. Proserpine.”
A very lengthy and graphic article of the court case is recalled in the Burton Observer and Chronicle, 19th September 1929, when he attempted to murder his sister in law. It appears that the poorly behaved Ex Sailor who had earned this medal shortly before a discharge because of his bad behaviour, had then joined the Army in WW1 and since leaving been unemployed unable to find work, he had then fallen into drink and showed signs of disturbing behaviour, possibly now attributed to a combination of PTSD from field service as a Medic in France and the serial unemployment amongst WW1 Veterans in the 1920s.
“I did not intent to kill Amy Ridgar, I intended to injure my wife.” Mr Howard in court.
“The cruelty began in 1923, and he had repeatedly threatened to kill her and the children because she would not sell the children’s clothes to buy him drink. He was a painter by trade, but had been out of work since he came out of the army.
Howard is a small, thin man with a dark moustache which, from his speech, seems to conceal a harelip.
Soon after 6.30 Friday Morning she went out into the backyard to go to the lavatory… she found Howard behind the door and he took hold of her throat.
‘I was too stunned to scream or anything, and then I saw something that I thought was a hammer coming down. I stopped the blow. He twisted my head round and tried to push my teeth down my throat. I pushed my teeth out with my tongue and squealed. Then I said ‘Joe don’t be a fool.’ He said. ‘ILL MURDER YOU FOR HAVING MY WIFE.’
‘I took the instrument from him, and held it at the back of me. He struggled hard with me and I was squealing all the while. He got the instrument from me but did not use it.
‘He pushed his fist in my throat, he kept his foot against the door, I kicked his foot away because I could hear someone outside, The door pushed open, and I dont remember any more. I collapsed and was afterwards taken in an ambulance to the Burton Infirmary.’ “
A young man from Burton, Staffs who had joined the Navy shortly after his 16th Birthday having been a Beer Bottler, served on a number of ships over a 6 year career, marred by a number of stints in the ships Prison Cells, particularly during his stay on HMS Hindustani during 1908, when he managed to spend May to July of 1908, in prison for 47 days out of 2 months, over 4 separate convictions.
He earned his Persian Gulf clasp on HMS Proserpine for service between 27th May 1910 and 13th July 1910, before a transfer to the Gibraltar, spending his usual 10 days in the Cells, and to the Victory II on 14th December 1910 when he was discharged as:
“SNLR Services No Longer Required, Undesirable to retain in the service, service has been generally ‘Fair’ on discharge found to be ‘Good’ 22.10.13 (via Wills School)”
Shown on the 1911 Census as unemployed, living in Burton-on-Trent with his Step Father William Hook, and his wife Lilian Howard.
As he was denied further Navy Service he joined the Army in WW1, serving with the R.A.M.C. at the “Isolation Hospital” who quarantined those with infectious diseases.
Burton Observer 27th Jan 1916:
“GETTING USED TO IT
I have received your gifts parcel, and am very pleased to let you know I am in fairly good health, and able to enjoy it. Things are very much the same out here, but its a case of getting used to it. – Private J. H. Howard, R.A.M.C. Isolation Hospital (of 28 Moor Street, Burton Jan 18th)”
He had enlisted on 6th April 1915 and served in France with the RAMC, being discharged on 23rd Feb 1918 and awarded the Silver War Badge citing: Sickness Army Order 265 of 1917 Para 2 (b) (a) (i) Para 392 (xvi) King's Regulation
Joseph was a habitual offender and odd job labourer around his home town Burton-on-Trent, before a “Brutal and Cowardly Attack” done by him against his sister in law where he tried to murder her.
STAFFORDSHIRE ADVERTISER, 16th November 1929:
“A BRUTAL AND COWARDLY ATTACK
Joseph Henry Howard (41), labourer, committed from Burton-on-Trent, was charged with wounding Amy Ridgard with intent to murder her on September 6.
The accused pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent to murder her, but guilt to unlawfully wounding, and this plea was accepted for the prosecution.
Mr J. Wylie (Prosecuting) said on the night of September 6 the accused visited the house where Mrs Ridgar lived.
Prisoner followed her out of the house and struck her on the head with a chopper. Fortunately the injury was not a very severe one.
P.S. Hill stated that the accused was a native of Burton-on-Trent, and saw service in the Navy and the Army.
At the present time he was in receipt of a pension of £1 4s. per week, and a weekly allowance of 17/8 was made to his wife and 3 children.
Mr J. Foster, for the accused, stated that when Howard was about to strike the woman, he realised the terrible act he was committing, and the blow he delivered was not a heavy one.
Passing sentence of 6 months Imprisonment, his lordship described it as a Brutal and Cowardly attack.”
He was again convicted for similar offences, Burton Observer 18th June 1936:
“WINDOW PANES SMASHED, HARD LABOUR FOR BURTON MAN
Joseph Harry Howard (48) of Moor Street, Burton, was summoned at Burton Police Court on Friday for damaging Windows to the extent of 6s 6d.
Mrs Porter of Uxbridge Street, Mother in Law, said Howard and his Wife had lived apart for some time, and on every occasion he saw his wife he abused her. On Saturday when she went to a public house Howard entered, and on seeing his wife there, he threatened her.
Witness and her daughter went home, and within a minute or two of arriving, Howard was heard outside.
He said, ‘Take that you ****’ and then two panes of a window were broken. later he returned and broke three more panes, and sent a jam jar through the window.
Howard who did not appear, was sentenced to 3 months hard labour.”