Joseph William Odell
Trooper 1st Berkshire Yeomanry
Joseph Odell was the son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Odell of 87, Cardigan Road. After leaving school he went to work for Pulsometer Engineering. Joseph was a well-liked young man who had joined the Yeomanry two years before the war. He was passed as fit by the Doctors and went to serve in Egypt. He had been there for only a few weeks when he was taken ill and on 12th August 1915 just days before his unit was due to land at Suvla Bay. He was evacuated back to England where he was first sent to hospital in Birmingham and then to Norton, Gloucester and then Pinewood at Hastings. It was found that he was suffering so badly from tuberculosis that he was sent home to his parents where he eventually died on 3rd February 1916. He was 22 years of age.
His funeral was military in character with buglers of the Yeomanry sounding the last post. Representatives of his squadron were Trooper Frederick Potts V.C. and Trooper Cook. There were many mourners including his parents and two brothers as well as other family members and friends including those from Pulsometer Engineering Works and St. Lukes Club.
Joseph Odell was buried in the Reading Cemetery in Division 65. There was no grave marker but the Thames Valley Branch of the Western Front Association and the Berkshire Yeomanry raised funds to erect a headstone similar in character to that of the CWGC headstone. It was dedicated on 26 June 2004 in a ceremony attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, the Honorary Colonel of the Yeomanry, representatives of the Yeomanry Museum and members of the WFA. The headstone was unveiled by veteran William Stone aged 103.
His brother Lance Corporal 2442 Edward Victor Odell, 1st / 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment was killed in action on 14th August 1916, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing Pier and Face 11D.
There were no family details given in the CWGC register entry. The Standard September 9th 1916, gave details of the death of Edward Victor Odell. He had been a bugler in the Territorials for five years before the war but had left a few months before war was declared. Edward re-enlisted in the first week of the war joining the 1st/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment. He had been at the front 17 months when he was killed in the Somme battles. In civil life, Edward had been a printer for eight years with Messer’s Bradley and Sons, the Forbury. Edward was married and his son, whom he never saw, was born nine days before the notification of Edward’s death.
The Standard reports the existence of a third brother A.G. Odell who enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery at the beginning of the war. Lance Bombardier, 42215, Albert George Odell served with the 122nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed in action on 18th June 1918, aged 23. He is buried in Wailly Orchard Cemetery, Pas De Calais. Location II.D.4. He was the husband of E.L.Ward, formerly Odell of 47, Albert Road, Reading. It was originally difficult to locate this brother because the CWGC detail spelt the surname as O’Dell rather than Odell which is common to other memorials to the brothers.
All the Odell brothers are commemorated on the Reading Blue Coat School War Memorial.