Service Number 301231
Battalion 12th Battalion
Regiment Durham Light Infantry
Killed in Action: 20th September 1917
Buried Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium
Joseph White Ordish lived most of his life in Leicestershire but he was born in 1882 in Micklethwaite, the son of Joseph George Ordish and his wife Kathleen. Joseph (senior) was a butler and appears on the electoral rolls for Micklethwaite from 1887 to 1890. At this time there were some significant movements of the family: in 1890 Joseph (Snr) was living in London and his son, Thomas George, was born there in 1890. However by the census in 1891, Joseph (Jnr) is living with his parents in Melton Mowbray. Joseph Ordish (Snr) died in Wetherby on the 30th November 1898. In 1901, Joseph (Jnr) was boarding at 33 Wilton Road, Swindon where he is described as being a shopkeepers assistant at an iron mongers.
We have been unable to trace Joseph (Jnr) in the 1911 census, although his mother is living with his brother at 67 Thorpe Road, Melton Mowbray at that time.
On the 12th November 1915, Joseph White Ordish attested for service in Leicester and was placed in the reserve until the 19th March 1916. He served first in the 2/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry with the service number 301231. He was appointed as Lance Corporal, and Corporal during his servce with the 2/8th, and subsequently the 1/8th Battalion, before reverting to private on his later posting.
Joseph embarked for France in Folkstone on the 15th June 1917 and disembarked a day later in Boulogne. On the 1st July 1917 he was posted to the 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. On the 15th September 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
During this period the 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry were part of 68th Infantry Brigade in 23rd Division. Just after arriving at 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, Joseph would have had his first taste of front line warfare. They were in the line at Klein Zillebeke to Davidson Street. The war diary records:
The following day the Battalion were relieved and moved out of the line. From the 21st July until mid-September the Battalion were in training in areas behind the front line. The war diary records they were trained in mock-up trenches in gas drill and in coordinated attacks on trenches and strong points.
From the 3rd September the Battalion, as part of 23rd Division, entrained and marched forward to join the 3rd Battle of Ypres. This battle had begun on the 31st July, while the Durham Light Infantry were still in training. The Division's attack took place on the 20th September 1917 with the 68th (including 12/DLI) and 69th brigades advancing. One battalion of each brigade was to secure each of the three phase lines with the fourth as a reserve.
The first line was captured within the hour, the advance to the second faced resistance from pill-boxes and dug-outs as did the advance to the third. The division held this line under German artillery fire until 25 September.
Extracts of the 68th Infantry Brigade's War Diary gives some more detail:
On Friday October 5th 1917 The Melton Mowbray Times & Vale of Belvoir Gazette published the following article:
There is a discrepancy with the date of death, as the Commonwealth War Grave Commission records that Joseph White Ordish was Killed in Action on the 20th September 1917. We believe the newspaper article had the wrong date as the Brigade War diary records that 4 other ranks of the 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry were killed on the 20th October 1917, along with 14 men wounded. On the other hand, the Soldiers Died in the Great War database records 24 men of the 12th Durham Light Infantry being killed in action on that day. In total Joseph had been in France just 97 days when he was killed in action.
Joseph's body was found at a map reference of J.20.b.3.2 very near JASPER TRENCH and the War Graves report states that his body was identified by his name and numeral found on his gas mask. However he was wrongly identified as Pte A. Harris at that time. However at the time of his reburial in Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium, he had been correctly identified.
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
First World War British Army Service Records. The National Archives (WO363).
War Diary of 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (WO95/2182/1) The National Archives.
War Diary of 68 Infantry Brigade HQ (WO95/2181/6) The National Archives.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and Burial Reports
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