680149 WHL/CPL. W. S. WARD. R.F.A.

 

Walter Stephen Ward was born on 2 January 1897 in Preston and baptised on 24 January at Ashton on Ribble.  His father was John James Ward (b. 1863 in Preston), a plasterer and property repairer.  His mother was Margaret Ann Emma Raine (b. 1867 in Bradford, West Yorkshire).  John was previously married to Eliza Skillen (b. 1864 in Preston); they were married in 1887 and they had three children before Eliza died in 1893.  Their children were John James (b. 1888), Eliza (b. 1890) and Martha (b. 1891).  So John and Margaret were married in 1895 and they had 3 children: Walter, Florence (b. 1898) and Elsie (b. 1900).  John died in 1909 and Margaret died the following year, and this led to an odd, and in some ways rather sad, family split.  According to the 1911 Census, Florence and Elsie (the youngest of the family) had been placed in the Harris Orphanage, on Garstang Road in Preston.  Walter was old enough to work (14) and he was working as a clerk for a bootmaker in Preston.  He was living with his maternal grandmother, Eliza Raine (b. 1846 in Halton near Lancaster).  In the household were also Walter’s step-siblings, John James, Eliza and Martha (who were not related to Walter’s grandmother).  The ‘blended’ family lived at 28 St Peter Street, Preston.

 

Walter was still only 17 when War broke out but he had probably already served with the Territorials as he had an old-style service number, 1091, which was later changed to 680149.  Walter was posted to “B” Battery of 276 Division and he landed in France with his Division on 30 September 1915 (aged 18).  Walter was a wheeler and at some stage was promoted to Corporal.

 

From the War Diary

9 April 1918 4.15am Enemy opened heavy H.E. and Gas bombardment on all Bettery areas, Headquarters, and Wagon Lines.  Batteries opened on “Counter preparation” and later on S.O.S.  Hostile infantry reported attacking, and pressing back our Infantry on the Left.  164th Infantry Brigade still holding GIVENCHY.  Continuous hostile shelling throughout the day.  Enemy infantry at one time reached forward gun of A/276 Battery in GUNNER SIDING, but counter-attacked and driven off.

6.42pm A/276 Bty report all guns destroyed and personnel manning trench in front of position.  Ordered to move personnel to Wagon lines with all material that can be salved.  D/276 Battery moved forward gun back to main position.  Throughout the day information received of enemy concentration.  Batteries opened fire on all occasions, and with the exception of local encounters no further attack on a large scale developed on Group Front.

8.00pm  Information received that 800 prisoners captured to date.

 

55th Division held the line throughout the day and maintained their position over the following days of the German attack.

 

Walter was killed in action on 9 April 1918.  He was 21 years old.

 

Rank:  Wheeler/Corporal

Service No:  680149

Date of Death:  09/04/1918

Age:  21

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “B” Bty, 276th Bde.

Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. E. 12.

Cemetery/Memorial:  BROWN'S ROAD MILITARY CEMETERY, FESTUBERT

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