Gunner 251307 Thomas Willie Ward

Ward Thomas 96 428x600

Killed in Action on Friday, 23rd August 1918, age 28.
Buried in Grave III. H. 9. at Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas De Calais, France.

Royal Field Artillery, 41st Brigade, 47th Battery.

Son of Jesse James and Annie Ward, of 14, Canal St., Oxford.
Born: Oxford, Enlisted: West Laughton, Lancs, Resident: Dudley Port.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/295830/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Thomas Willie Ward registered June quarter 1890 in Oxford.

1901 Census
14 Canal Street, Oxford.
Jesse J. Ward (49, Gardener - not Domestic, born Freeland, Oxfordshire), his wife Annie (48, born Shrivenham, Berkshire), and their 8 children: Annie F. (27, Tailoress, born Asthally), Eleanor N. (19, Paper Folder, born Oxford), Edith H. (18, Paper Piler, born Oxford), Mable S. (16, Bodice Machinist, born Oxford), Elsie B. (13, School Monitress, born Oxford), Thomas W. (11, born Oxford), Gladys (8, born Oxford), and Wilfred J. (3, born Oxford).

1911 Census
14 Canal Street, Oxford.
Jesse James Ward (60, Domestic Gardener, born Freeland, Oxfordshire), his wife Annie (58, born Shrivenham, Berkshire), and 5 of their 11 surviving children of 12: Annie F. (38, Dressmaker, born Asthally), Thomas Willie (21, Bricklayer's Labourer, born Oxford), Eleanor N. (19, Warehouse Girl, born Oxford), Gladys (18, Pupil Teacher, born Oxford), and Wilfred James (13, Printer's Assistant, born Oxford).

Personal Data

In 1911 Thomas was living with his parents in Oxford, but sometime between then and his enlistment he had moved to Tipton. No further details are available.

His CWGC headstone has the inscription: "A loved one sleeping far from home". Thomas is also remembered on a Ward family gravestone in St. Sepulchre's Cemetery, near to the family home in Canal Street, Jericho, Oxford. It reads:
AUGUST 23, 1917, AGED 28
Above detail courtesy of Friends of St. Sepulchre's Cemetery at: http://www.stsepulchres.org.uk/burials/ward_jesse.html#thomas (checked July 2018).

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £9/15/5d (9 pounds, 15 shillings and 5 pence); this was paid to his father, Jesse J., in December 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted within the 12 months prior to his death.

Action resulting in his death

41st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (RFA), was originally formed with 9th, 16th and 17th Batteries, and was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division for the duration of the war. In May 1916, 47th (Howitzer) Battery joined the brigade. Thomas was attached to the 47th (Howitzer) Battery but would not have joined them before 1918.

The 41st Brigade took part in most of the major actions of the war, and in August 1918 was involved in the continuing series of offensives known as “The 100 Days”. At that time they were located about 5 miles North-West of Bapaume, north of the 1916 Somme battlefields.

Their War Diary for 23rd August 1918 records:
“Brigade marched 12.30am, rendezvous 3am in COJEUL VALLEY ¾ mile South West of AYETTE, and got into action about 9 am just behind crest of ridge, ½ mile South-West of COURCELLES. 47th (Howitzer) battery went beyond the ridge into valley ¾ mile South-South-West of COURCELLES; it was very boldly handled by Major Dyson, M.C., suffering a good many casualties in personnel and horses, but in action in time to fire the barrage.”

It would seem that the “good many casualties” included Thomas Ward as his initial place of burial ties up with the location of the 47th Battery as mentioned above. In February 1920, Thomas’s remains were exhumed and re-buried in Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension.

Newspaper Cuttings