Joseph Edward Sparks was the son of Edward George Sparks and Ellen Kelleher. He was born on 5 December 1894 in Ipswich.
He spent two years in the Citizen forces as a Corporal, Sergeant and Colour Sergeant. This clearly put him into a good position for the army hierarchy when war came. This was notwithstanding the fact that he was initially rejected as being unfit because of an insufficient chest measurement.
He was mobilised for war service in August 1914.
He embarked at Cairns for Thursday Island for War Station Garrison duty on 8 August 1914. Actual enlistment was 14 August 1914. He embarked again on Thursday Island two days later aboard the troopship Kanowna to take part in the capture of German New Guinea. The ship ended up at Townsville on 18 September because of trouble caused by the firemen on the troopship. Consequently, he did not participate in the capture of German New Guinea.
On 20 November 2014 he was appointed as an Acting Prov. Sergeant. On 14 May 1915 he was promoted to a second Lieutenant.
He left Australia on 22 December 1914 for the Dardanelles with the 15th Battalion.
His wounding happened in Gallipoli on 19 May 1915. His records indicate that he was hit by two hand grenades, one of them being more shallow than the other. The first resulted in his arm being amputated and the other burst around his legs. This resulted in extensive laceration wounds in the legs and feet. He had two bullets removed from his foot on 2 June, had a small piece of steel removed from his left toe on 15 June 1915 and a large piece from his sole. A piece of casing was removed from his leg two days later.
He was received from HMH Galeka on 21 May 1915 shown as having had his left hand amputated and shrapnel wounds to his thigh and right foot.
He returned to Melbourne aboard the transport Ballarat on 10 August 1915 and invalidated out of the army. However, he clearly moved quickly back into the workforce. The following article is from the Queensland Times (Ipswich), on 19 June 1916.
“A Cooktown contemporary states that Lieut. Sparks, of the Bank of New South Wales, has been transferred to Townsville, and was tendered a fitting send-off. The Mayor.(Ald. J. S.Love), in proposing the health of Lieut. Sparks, said that their guest had made himself very popular with most of the people in Cooktown. He had risked his life for us in Gallipoli, and had lost an arm. He was a man of grit, and he hoped that he would be shortly fixed up with an artificial arm. In reply, Lieut. Sparks said now that the time for his departure drew near he was sorry to leave. He had met a fine lot of good fellows, wherever he was, Cooktown would be uppermost in his mind. (Lieut. Sparks is a son of Mr. George Sparks, of Cairns, but he was born at North Ipswich, and is a grandson of
Mr Joseph Sparks, a very old resident of Ipswich, of which Mr. George Sparks is a native.)
Joseph died in Sydney on 18 September 1944. The Cairns Post carried the following obituary on 18 October 1944.
MR. JOSEPH SPARKS
Word has been received of the death in Sydney of Joseph Edward Sparks, manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Kensington, at the age of 49. The late Mr. Sparks spent his boyhood in Gordonvale and attended the local State School. Later the family, moved to Cairns. At the outbreak of the World War Mr. Sparks enlisted and became a lieutenant and was seriously wounded at Gallipoli, losing an arm. Many old residents of Cairns and Gordonvale will remember that he was the first of the local A..I.F. lads to return, and may remember the excitement and hero worship as the boat steamed slowly in that early Sunday, morning, and the rousing cheers from an estimated crowd of 3000 people, all anxious to get a glimpse of the returning hero and to welcome home our first returned soldier. The late, Mr. Sparks was highly esteemed in banking circles and by all with whom he came into contact. He leaves a widow, an only daughter, his mother, three sisters and brother now with the A.I.F.in New Guinea, to mourn their loss.