Joseph Henry Wardle

Born:1886
Died: 3 May 1918
Service number: 201571
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own)

War Service

After the outbreak of the Great War Joseph Henry Wardle was enlisted in the 1st/5th Battalion of The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own). This was formed in August 1914 :in York. Part of the West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division it moved on 10 August to Selby, end of the month to Strenshall and late October to York.

1915

In March 1915 moved to Gainsborough where on 31 March the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began on 12 April. Divisional infantry went via Fokstone – Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 19 April the Division had concentrated in the area of Estaires - Merville - Neuf Berquin. On 5 May 1915 the formation became 146th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.

The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements:

  • The Battle of Aubers Ridge (9 May)
  • The defence against the first Phosgene attack (19 December)

Phosgene was a potent killing agent, deadlier than chlorine. It had a potential drawback in that some of the symptoms of exposure took 24 hours or more to manifest. This meant that the victims were initially still capable of putting up a fight; although this could also mean that apparently fit troops would be incapacitated by the effects of the gas on the following day.

In the first combined chlorine/phosgene attack by Germany, against British troops at Wieltje near Ypres, Belgium on 19 December 1915, 88 tons of the gas were released from cylinders causing 1069 casualties and 69 deaths. The British P gas helmet, issued at the time, was impregnated with sodium phenolate and partially effective against phosgene. The modified PH Gas Helmet, which was impregnated with phenate hexamine and hexamethylene tetramine (urotropine) to improve the protection against phosgene, was issued in January 1916.

1916

The Battle of Albert*
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*
(The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916)

1917

Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush)
The Battle of Poelcapelle**
(The battle marked ** is a phase of the Third Battles of the Ypres)

1918

The Battle of Estaires^ (9th - 11th April)
The Battle of Messines^ (10th - 11th April)
The Battle of Bailleul^ in which the Division defended Neuve Eglise (13th - 15th April)
The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge^ (17th - 19th April)
The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge^ (25th - 26th April)
The Battle of the Scherpenberg^( 29th April)
(The battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Lys or the 4th Battle of Ypres)

Joseph Henry Wardle was killed on 3rd May 1918. Although the Battle of Scherpenberg had ended the Ypres Salient would still have been a very dangerous place with constant exchanges of fire and one can only assume that Joseph was killed during such non-specific action.
Joseph is remembered at the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Family Life

The earliest record of the Wardle’s in Brotherton appears to be a marriage between William Wardle and Margaret Wilson in 1752. The Woodhall connection also stems from that period.

There is something of a mystery surrounding the birth of Joseph Henry in that there seems to be no record of his mother and certain of the family dynamics are somewhat unusual. It seems that the best way to try and unravel this situation is to look at the data in chronological sequence.

1841

John Wardle and Esther (nee Woodhall) were living in Marsh Buildings which would be close to what is now known as Marsh Croft. Their children were Mary (born about 1831), William (1833),Thomas (1837), Joseph (1838) and James (1841). John was an ‘Agricultural Labourer’.

1851

Esther died in 1848 and it appears that most of the children then went to live with their grandmother Hannah who, having been widowed, had married a man called William Burton. John was also found in Brotherton but living and working on Pennington’s farm as a ‘Farm Servant’.

1861

Seemingly, the only members of the family left in Brotherton were John who was living with son James in Marsh Buildings. John was a ‘Herdsman’ and James his assistant. Daughter Ann was living in York St. (possibly Gauk St.) where she was a servant in a Grocer’s shop run by John Bramham.

1871

Virtually the same situation as 10 years earlier but with Ann back in the ‘family home’ plus Mary Ann aged 7 described as John’s granddaughter. There is no indication of her parentage.

1881

Mary Ann has left home and working as a servant at Kilpin Hall, Batley. Other members of family found in Middlesborough and Snaith. John’s son William and family living in Fox buildings, Brotherton. 32 year old Ann was a servant working in Cowick near Snaith.

1891

John and son James were still living in Brotherton. Others spread out with Thomas (son of John) in Gloucestershire. Meanwhile, Ann had married a miner called John Whinchurch in 1881. His family originated in Bilston, Staffs but had been in Whitwood Mere for quite a few years.

They were to be found living in Blackhill, Durham and with them was 5 year old Joseph Henry Wardle. Ann was described as his grandmother but a look at the family tree casts doubt on this. The fact that Joseph was supposed to be James’s son and Ann was 2 years younger than him confirms the doubts. However, Joseph is said to have been born in Blackhill but there is no evidence to suggest that James ever moved far from Brotherton even though some of his siblings did. Thomas, for example, had moved on to Rhyll and was later to move to Towyn in Montgomeryshire. John died in 1895.

1901

Joseph, by then 15, was living in Brotherton. He was there with Ann Whinchurch who was a widow and living off ‘Parish Relief.’ Joseph was a ‘Labourer’. James actually lived next door.

1911

Joseph was said to be 23 and was still living with 63 year old Ann and working as a ‘Joiner’.

It seems obvious that Joseph was not the grandson of Ann and it also seems unlikely she was his mother as she would have already been married to John Whinchurch for several years before Joseph was born. As, it seems, he never lived with James who was always described as being single then doubt as to his paternity would also be excusable. Whatever the proper explanation of his parentage there seems no doubt that Joseph was a Wardle, or of his families long ties to the village.

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