Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1914, Private Joseph Ditchburn, 2nd Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry, died of wounds received the previous day during the fighting near Hazebrouck.
Before enlisting in May of 1911 with the 6th Battalion (Territorial) of the Durham Light Infantry, he had worked as a groom for two years, and also as a pitman with the Weardale Iron and Coal Company in Tow Law, County Durham. Three months after enlisting he transferred as a full-time soldier to the 2nd Battalion.
Private Ditchburn wrote to his mother on the 6th of August in 1914, from barracks in England. Because of his disclosures the letter would never be sent to her – he referred to his battalion being sent to the front, and indicated what an historian refers to as “the faltering morale” of himself and other soldiers: “I dare say that this will be the last letter you will receive from me until the war is over as I am prepared to move to the front at any moment…do not lose heart, I may come back again. Oh it’s simply deffning here, with the noise of people rushing to see their wives and mothers before they go away. It is very pitifull to see great big men fainting in the ranks, it makes one lose heart …mother dear, do have courage. I will be alright…and if I do die I will die with a good heart and all your love upon my life.”
Private Ditchburn was shot in the stomach during the fighting near Hazebrouck on the 13th of October, and was taken to hospital. He could not be saved and died the following day. He lies buried in the Sec-Bois Communal Cemetery in Vieux-Berquin in France.
Joseph, from Sunderland, was 22 years old.