Wardle brothers

It is 9th of November and 100 years anniversary of Armistice Day is just in around the corner. Right before this special day, we received new improved edition of Boys on the Plaque publication. While I was flicking through it, an interesting Wardle family story caught my eye. Two brothers lived and worked together until the were asked to serve during First World War. Fabrica volunteers did extensive research on these two brothers and their family.

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Brief family story

Joseph was the eldest of three children born to Joseph Wardle Sr and Lenette Maud Anderson. He had a younger brother, Percy William, also on the plaque and a sister, Edith. All men of the family, including uncle Francis Wardle and brother in law – William Anderson. All men were described as boot manufacturers.

Joseph  Jr. marries Ellen Marion Venus in 1905 and they have a son, Joseph Gerald, who is born in the summer of 1913. Percy married Florence Lillian Scott between October and December 1909.  This is the same year in which their sister Edith marries Stanley Carter and migrates to Canada. One year later Florence and Percy have a son named Percy, who dies within the first three months of his life.

Military career

Joseph Wardle

According to the Sussex Roll of Honour Joseph served in the Sussex Yeomanry from 1904. He joined the 11th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment and landed in France on 31 July 1915. He enlisted in Portslade where the regiment had begun to gather as part of the 24th Division of Kitchener’s new third army, but they lacked equipment and trained officers so in April 1915 they were moved to the 112th Brigade, 37th Division at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain and proceeded to France on the 30th of July, the division concentrating near Tilques. They went into action in The Battle of the Ancre. In 1917 they fought in The First Battle of the Scarpe, including the capture of Monchy-le-Preux, The Second Battle of the Scarpe and The Battle of Arleux. They were in action during the Third Battles of Ypres. In early 1918 the army was reorganised and the 11th Warwicks were disbanded in France on the 7th of February 1918 with the troops transferring to other units.          

Before the transfer became effective Joseph had been moved to Hazebrouck , possibly to await transport back to England.  Sadly, before he could be evacuated he died of pneumonia. It is likely that he was an early victim of Spanish flu. 

Additional information

Spanish flu (possibly called this because Spain suffered more casualties than other European countries – 8 million died. It is thought to have originated in China). This strain of ‘flu had arrived in the trenches towards the end of 1917, but the first wave of infection was relatively mild. However, 20% of those infected developed pneumonia or septicaemia.  Perhaps because of the living conditions or the weakened condition of some of the troops, especially those who had experienced lung damage from the effects of gas.

Hazebrouck was a small railway town which had been the target of shelling and bombing as most of the British supplies had to travel through the town.  From October 1914 to September 1917 casualty clearing stations were sited there but with the intensification of barrages between September 1917 and September 1918 it was considered unsafe to base a hospital there.  It was primarily staffed by medics from Australia and New Zealand until September 1918 when it became a Red Cross Hospital.


Percy Wardle

Percy enlists on 31 July 1915. He has already served for 6 years with the Imperial Yeomanry. He describes himself as a shoe-repairer. He is 5ft 7½ ins tall, has a 35 inch chest (38 inches when expanded), a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He gives his religion as Baptist/Congregationalist.  He gives Edith as his next of kin and she is living at 14 Reid Street, Toronto. He enlists three days after his brother-in-law, Leonard Allen. They both join the 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles and are later transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

Leonard Allen, is reported as missing in action in the summer of 1916 and eventually his death is confirmed as having occurred on 2 June 1916. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate.  Percy is killed later that year and his presumed date of death is given as 30 September 1916.  He is commemorated on the Vimy memorial. His death is reported in the Toronto Star on 19 October 1916. 

Additional family information

Edith had returned to England after Leonard’s death, staying firstly with her mother in Duke Street, then at an address in York and by November of 1916 she is living in Herne Hill.  By 1920 she had moved back to Brighton and lived firstly in St James’s Avenue, then in Tisbury Road in Hove. Her son seems to reappear in the records in 1932 when he marries Lily Tilney in Brighton. Although Edith is shown as next of kin on Percy’s enlistment records, when Percy dies Florence appears on the military records for the first time.  There is no record of her re-marrying.

We want to thank to everyone who contributed towards this detailed research. 

Featured photograph was found in IWM archives. 

In the picture: Militant Leveson Gower; Duchess of Sutherland; General de la Gulche; Madame Llonville; British Staff Officers and sisters in the courtyard of the Civil Hospital at Hazebourck after investiture with decorations.

Some additional information was found and used from War Time Memories Project

Blog writer: Ernesta Simkute


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