This site commemorates the men and women of Collingham, Linton and Micklethwaite who served during World War 1.
Ordish, Joseph White
(1882-1917)

Rank and Unit at End of World War One

Rank Lance Corporal

Service Number 301231

Service Army

Battalion 12th Battalion

Regiment Durham Light Infantry

Killed in Action: 20th September 1917

Buried Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium

Biography

Family background

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.

Service record

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:

 
11.7.17 Front line shelled lightly in morning. No casualties; men fairly secure in concrete Bosche dugouts.
12.7.17 Raid by 40 men of A coy. and covering and flank parties from C & B Coys. Raiding party under charge of Lieut Weightman and 2nd Lieut Freeman. Party raided strong point with complete success. 5 prisoners taken. Lieut Weightman and 6 men were wounded. Three men reported missing.
 
 
Notes: The Soldiers Died in the Great War database actually records 5 men of the 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry being killed on the 12th July 1917:
Pte 969 William Knowles of Trimdon Grange
Pte 39304 William Rankin of Antrim, aged 40
Pte 52638 Charles Stuart Ross of Fulford, Yorks, aged 22
Pte 302538 Henry Summerscales of Burley in Wharfedale
Pte 302658 Harold William Wright of Derby, aged 22.
The Commonwealth War Graves records show Private Knowles as being killed on the 13th July. He is buried in Aeroplane Military Cemetery. The bodies of the others were never found and they are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.

 

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:

 
ACCOUNT OF ATTACK AND SUBSEQUENT OPERATIONS.
"A" and "B" Coys. moved up to TORR TOP on night of September 18th. They were employed on carrying parties on September 19th., and moved into assembly positions in the neighbourhood of JAM LANE at 2.30 a.m. on September 20th. These Companies moved off at ZERO behind 10th and 11th Northumberland Fusiliers being held up by Strong Point and snipers in DUMBARTON WOODS and assisted to clear these. The Strong Point was held by 12 men. At about 8 a.m, both Companies dug in about 20 yards in front of JASPER TRENCH in support to 10th Northumberland Fusiliers. On night of Sept., 20th., they came under orders of 9th Yorks & Lancs Regt.

"C" Company formed up, less Lewis Gun Sections, behind 13th DLI and moved at ZERO following 13th DLI to GREEN LINE where loads were dumped.

"D" Company formed up near JAM LANE on night of 19th/20th and moved at ZERO behind 11th Northumberland Fusiliers, up to JAR ROW and thence to JASPER DRIVE, encountering a strong point, which was successfully dealt with by a Sergeant and three men. The Company dug in near JASPER DRIVE.
 

On Friday October 5th 1917 The Melton Mowbray Times & Vale of Belvoir Gazette published the following article:

The Melton Mowbray Times & Vale of Belvoir Gazette Friday October 5th 1917

"MELTON AND THE WAR" – MELTON SOLDIERS KILLED

Yesterday Mrs J. G. Ordish, Thorpe Road, Melton Mowbray, received a letter from an officer informing her that her eldest son, Lance-Corpl. J. W. Ordish, of the Durham Light Infantry, was instantly killed on the 21st ult. Deceased who was 35 years of age, served his apprenticeship at Messrs. Sharman and Ladbury’s and was for 15 years in the employ of Messrs. Vipan and Headley, Leicester, before joining up about two years ago.

 

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.


Sources

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

If you have any photographs or further details about this person we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact us via: alan.berry@collinghamanddistrictwararchive.info