Ledgerwood, John (No. 18/1284)

Ledgerwood, John

Rifleman

No. 18/1284, 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Saturday 6 January 1917 (aged 32)

Buried:

Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), France (Grave III. A. 134)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)

Brother of Rifleman Samuel Hugh Ledgerwood (No. 18079)

BIOGRAPHY

Samuel Hugh Ledgerwood was the first of two brothers to die on active service in the Great War.  However, official confirmation that Samuel Hugh must be presumed to have been killed in action did not reach his family until after they heard officially that his brother John had died of wounds.

John Ledgerwood was born on 9 May 1884 in Windmill Street, Newtownards and he was a son of William John and Agnes Ledgerwood (nee Brown, sometimes Dunn) who were married on 22 May 1875 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  William Ledgerwood from East Street, Newtownards was a son of John Ledgerwood, a labourer.  Agnes Brown from East Street, Newtownards was a daughter of William Brown, a weaver.

The Ledgerwood family lived in Newtownards, in East Street, Little Francis Street, Windmill Street and at 11 Upper Court Street.

William Ledgerwood worked as a wool weaver and he and Agnes had seven children:

Hugh (born 18 February 1876 in East Street, Newtownards; died 11 May 1887)

Letitia McKee (born 5 June 1878 in East Street, Newtownards)

Mary McKee (born 8 July 1881 in Little Francis Street, Newtownards)

John (born 9 May 1884 in Windmill Street, Newtownards)

Agnes (born 12 April 1887 in East Street, Newtownards)

Margaret (Maggie, born 16 August 1889 in East Street, Newtownards)

Samuel Hugh (born 11 May 1893 in Little Francis Street, Newtownards)

Their father William died of cancer on 25 March 1913 (aged 55)

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War John Ledgerwood worked as a cotton weaver and he enlisted in Newtownards.  Rifleman John Ledgerwood served with the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

On 11 December 1916, Rifleman John Ledgerwood sustained severe gunshot wounds to his right arm and right leg and was admitted to No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station.  The following day the Sister-in-Charge wrote to inform his mother that he was ‘going on as well as could be expected under the circumstances’.  On New Year’s Day 1917 John wrote a letter to his mother telling her that he had had to have his leg amputated:

‘My Dear Mother – During the last two days my knee has given me a little further trouble and at the suggestion of the doctor I had my leg taken off above the knee last evening.  This had to be in order to save my life so that I begin the New Year 1917 with the highest and best prospects.  Even now the pain is less than formerly and everyone in hospital is pleased with me.  Of my ultimate restoration to health there seems no doubt’.

Then, on 6 January 1917 Sister D. McPherson wrote to John’s mother to tell her that he had died that morning and to express sympathy on behalf of all the hospital staff.  She said, ‘Although everything was done for him that could possibly be done he passed away peacefully at 2.30 o’clock.  He did not leave any message but yesterday he expressed a wish that he would have liked to have seen his mother before he died and that he was always thinking of her.  I have saved you a lock of his hair which I now enclose as I thought you would like to have it’.

Rifleman John Ledgerwood was 32 when he died and he was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), France.

The Ledgerwood family placed four For King and Country notices in the 13 January 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  The one from his widowed mother and his sister Maggie contained the verse:

We prayed that God would keep him,

And shield him in the fray;

But alas! Our hopes were blighted

When the sad news came that day,

Short was thy life my darling son,

But peaceful is thy rest;

Mother misses you most of all,

Because she loved you best.

The notice from his sister Agnes and brother-in-law James McClean of 5 Lower Mary Street contained the verse:

Our brother’s gone to Heaven’s high home,

He’s safe in a better care,

Where all is peace and joy and love,

No tears nor parting there.

The notice from his widowed sister Mary Warden of 34 Upper Movilla Street contained the verse:

He was one of the best that God could send,

A loving brother and a faithful friend;

On earth he had strife, in Heaven rest,

They miss him most that loved him best.

The notice from his sister Letitia and brother-in-law Private John Dogherty (on active service) of 51 Pound Street, Newtownards contained the verse:

Though land and sea divide the spot

Where our dear brother is sleeping,

Yet in our hearts he’s not forgot,

But in his Saviour’s keeping.

Riflemen John Ledgerwood is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).

Within four weeks of John’s death Agnes Ledgerwood received official notification that her son Samuel had also been killed in action and so the Ledgerwood family placed a further series of four For King and Country notices in the 10 February 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  This time the one from his widowed mother and his sister Maggie contained the verse:

I often think of days gone by,

When we were all together;

A shadow o’er our life is cast,

Two loved sons gone for ever.

Friends may forget them, but mother will never,

They will dwell in our hearts till life’s journey is done;

Lord, teach us to live, that when our days are ended,

We’ll be met at the gates by our dear hero sons.’

The notice from his widowed sister Mary Warden of 34 Upper Movilla Street contained the verse:

Now a sister’s heart is aching

For two brothers she loved so well;

They gave their life for their country,

In honour’s cause they fell.

The notice from his sister Agnes and brother-in-law James McClean of 5 Lower Mary Street contained the verse:

One by one the links are slipping,

One bu one our heroes fall,

And my two loving brothers

Have answered the great roll call.

The notice from his sister Letitia and brother-in-law Private John Dogherty (on active service) of 51 Pound Street, Newtownards contained the verse:

Somewhere in France a volley rings,

A bugle sounds farewell;

Two wooden crosses and passing flowers

Mark where both my dear brothers fell.