Joseph H Ledger
Date of birth: 1898
Date of death: 28.06.1918
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: East Yorkshire
Family information: Youngest son of Edward and Elizabeth Ledger
Service number: 37047
On 22nd May 1917 Joseph Henry Ledger joined the army and after six months training he was posted to the 10th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment in France.
The 10th East Yorkshire Regiment, also known as the Hull Commercials, was formed on 29th August 1914 and attached to the 92nd Brigade, 31st Division. On 14th December 1915 the 31st Division sailed from Devonport, bound for Egypt. After three months deployment defending the Suez Canal, the 31st Division sailed for Marseilles and moved north to the Somme Region of France.
The Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916 and lasted almost five months. Although the 10th East Yorks was deployed in the front line, the battalion was not involved in any major attacks against the enemy. In 1917 the 10th East Yorks was engaged in attacks against the enemy defences along the Hindenburg Line. On 3rd May the 10th Battalion was engaged in an unsuccessful attack against the German defences at Oppy, when 246 casualties were incurred. By the end of the year the 92nd Brigade had moved to the Arleux Sector and it was here that Private Joseph Henry Ledger joined the 10th East Yorks.
On 21st March 1918 the German Army launched a major offensive, the aim was to make a breakthrough and capture Amiens. At this time the 92nd Brigade was out of the line but was ordered to move to Ervillers to meet the German advance. The strength of the German attack forced the 92nd Brigade into a series of withdrawals before they moved out of the line on 31st March. During the ten days of operations the 10th East Yorks incurred 211 casualties.
On 10th April orders were received to move north to the Lys battle area with the 10th East Yorks moving into positions west of Doulieu. On 12th April the enemy made a determined thrust towards Hazebrouck and attacked the Battalion line. Such was the ferocity of the attack that a series of withdrawals was necessary, before the assault was halted.
After the breakdown of the German offensive on the Lys, the next few months were comparatively quiet. However, on the 25th June, orders were received for an attack against the enemy defences near La Becque. The 92nd Brigade was on the left of the divisional front, with the 10th East Yorks on the right of the brigade front.
The 10th East Yorks moved to their assembly positions on the night of 27th June, just east of the road from Caudescure to the forest. At 6.00 hrs on 28th June the barrage fell and the infantry moved forward. Such was the surprise of the attack, they met very little resistance and by 07.30 hrs the 10th East Yorks had reached its final objective and the line was consolidated west of La Beque stream. The battalion’s casualties numbered 195, some having been caught by short shooting German 18 pounders.
One of these casualties was Joseph Henry Ledger, who was killed in action. His body was not recovered from the battlefield but he is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the missing. The Ploegsteert Memorial serves the area around Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe and Ploegsteert Wood and commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen who died in this sector and who have no known graves.
Joseph Henry Ledger was born in 1898, the youngest son of Edward and Elizabeth Ledger. At this time the family was living at Hightown, Whitwood near Castleford and his father was employed as a hewer in a local coal mine. Around 1909, Edward and Elizabeth, with their eleven children, moved from Hightown to Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield. Here his father worked at a woollen mill and Joseph Henry went to school. Later the family moved to Victoria Terrace, Outwood and Joseph Henry Ledger obtained work at Lofthouse Colliery.