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Reginald Ward

Reginald Ward was born in the second quarter of 1883 and his birth registered in Malton.  He was the second son of John William and Sarah Annie (nee Smith) Ward who married in the Malton area in the second quarter of 1879.Shortly after their marriage they moved to Westoe in County Durham where their eldest son Fred was born, while John worked as a sawyer, but within a few years they moved back to Malton and in 1891 we find the family living on Newbiggin and John is working as a Master Joiner. They now had three children and were doing well enough to employ a servant.

1891 Census – resident at Newbiggin, Malton
WARD, John W, Head, Married, M, 35, Joiner Master, Malton Yorkshire,
WARD, Sarah A, Wife, Married, F, 33, , Barton-Le-Street Yorkshire,
WARD, Fred, Son, , M, 11, Scholar, South Shields Co Durham,
WARD, Reginald, Son, , M, 7, Scholar, Malton Yorkshire,
WARD, Bertie, Son, , M, 3, , Malton Yorkshire,
KNEESHAW, Lily, Servant, , F, 13, General Servant Domestic, Old Malton Yorkshire,

By 1901 Fred, the elder brother had moved out (possibly he is the Fred Ward born in 1880 in South Shields, recorded as working as  Chemist Assistant in Sculcoates)and Reginald was trained as a joiner and working for his father at 6 Newbiggin.

1901 Census – resident at 6 Newbiggin, Malton
WARD, John W, Head, Married, M, 45, Cabinet Maker, Malton Yorkshire,
WARD, Sarah A, Wife, Married, F, 43, , Barton Le Street Yorkshire,
WARD, Reginald, Son, Single, M, 17, Joiner, Malton Yorkshire,
WARD, Bertie, Son, Single, M, 13, At School, Malton Yorkshire,

By 1911 Bertram (Bertie) had also moved away, again working as a chemist’s assistant, but in Nottingham and only Reginald is left with his parents.

1911 Census – resident at 6 Newbiggin, Malton
WARD, John William, Head, Married, M, 55, Joiner And Cabinet Maker, Yorkshire Malton,
WARD, Sarah Annie, Wife, Married 32 years, F, 53, , Yorkshire Barton le St,
WARD, Reginald, Son, Single, M, 26, Joiner And Cabinet Maker, Yorkshire Malton,

 At some point after the outbreak of the war Reginald appears to have been in Richmond where he enlisted in the South Staffordshire regiment, but he eventually joined the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. This probably took place in January of 1918, when a major re-organisation of the South Staffordshires took place, with most men being re-assigned within the same division but others being sent to other units which were badly in need of new drafts.  The war diary of the 1st Battalion records on 31st January 1918 “General refilling, re-organising and re-clothing the Battalion. 1 Officer and 5 OR joined”  Possibly Reginald was one of these five men or of the draft of 25 men who arrived the following day.

At this point the Battalion was billetted in Poperinghe, but by 10th February they had moved up to the front line and were ensconced in trenches. On the 13th they underwent a raid by about 50 Germans which was eventually repulsed with relatively light casualties. A few days later they received another draft of about 55 men.  This spell in trenches seems to have been fairly quiet, punctuated by German raids on the trenches which seem to have achieved nothing . On 26th February they returned to Brigade reserve at Junction Camp – “a day devoted to Baths, general inspections, cleaning up camp and re-organisation” The first half of March, saw them at Watou, engaged in intensive training, punctuated by boxing contests.

His parents were notified of his death in May. The Messenger reported “Killed in Action – Mr and Mrs J. W. Ward, Newbiggin, Malton have received news that their youngest son, Private Reg Ward was killed in action on 26th ult. Prior to the war, deceased was in the employ of his father.”  In point of fact Reginald was not their youngest son, but Bertie had already died aged just 24 in 1913.

His body was not found and in consequence he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

As well as being commemorated on the Town  Memorial and in St Leonard’s Church  he is also recorded on his father’s gravestone in New  Malton Cemetery.

On the 23rd March they arrived at the front at Epanancourt, and quickly found themselves fighting rearguard actions as the Germans made several attempts to force a passage on the Somme on the front of the 8th Division. About 9 pm a party succeeded in rushing the ruins of the canal bridge at Pargny and occupying the village. An immediate counter-attack made by about seventy men of the 1/Worcestershire and 2/Rifle Brigade, in three parties, drove the Germans back with the loss of many killed, twenty prisoners and four machine guns.  The following day the Battalion was forced back to Licourt, and were driven yet further back over the rest of March. Between 23rd and the end of the month they had suffered 26 dead and just short of 400 wounded or missing.

On 4th and 5th April further drafts of new men brought the Battalion closer to its old fighting strength and things were reasonably quiet; the men were in billets and musketry training took place. On 19th April they went back to the front line as a counter-attack battalion just south of Villers Brettoneux. While much of the Battalion was relieved and returned to Divisional reserve on the 23rd April, C & D companies remained in the front line under the orders of the 23rd Brigade along with the 2nd Devonshires.  The 1st Worcesters sustained heavy casualties over the next few days with about 20 killed and 100 wounded. Among the fatalities was Reginald who was killed in action on 26th April.