Name: Robert William Ward
Service No: 761223
Date of Death: 28/01/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery “C” Bty. 317th Bde.
Grave Reference: I. H. 11. Cemetery: Varennes Military Cemetery
Paul Allen writes:
On Sunday, 28 January 1917 Scarborough lost 761223 Gunner Robert William Ward.
Born in Scarborough during 1889 at 5 William Street, ‘William’ was the eldest son of Rachel (formerly Dixon) and ‘Shipwright/Carpenter’ Thomas Ward. Living in Scarborough in 1911 at 19 William Street with his widowed mother and sisters Carrie (born 1885), Jessie (1894), and brother Sam (1895), by the time of the Census, Sunday, 2 April, 21-year-old William was employed as a ‘Gardener’s Assistant’.
Robert William Ward enlisted into the Territorial Force 2nd Line Royal Field Artillery (RFA) at Scarborough’s St John’s Road Barracks during 1915 where he was initially issued with the Regimental No of 1284. Eventually attached to ‘C’ Battery of 317 Brigade of the RFA, William served in France in the Somme Sector with this unit until 25 January 1917 when he was badly injured in an accident. He was evacuated to the 47th Casualty Clearing Station located near the village of Varennes where, 3 days later, he died from the effects of his injuries.
(317 Brigade of the RFA was stationed at Scarborough’s St John’s Road Barracks before the war and went abroad with the 2nd (Northumbrian) Division during April 1915, when it took part in the Second Battle of Ypres that was fought between 22 April and 25 May 1915. The brigade was subsequently attached to the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division and served on the Western Front with this famous formation until the Armistice).
The news of Robert William’s death was published in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday, 9 February 1917:
‘Pick strikes buried bomb’
‘Soldier’s death from wounds’…
‘The sad news was received by his mother at 19 William Street, that Gunner R.W. Ward, R.F.A., has died in France from wounds caused by his pick striking a buried bomb. A letter from his officer, Major Watson, states that he had been one of a party digging a dugout on 25 January, when his pick struck a buried bomb and he was badly injured. The letter states he had died on January 28, and tenders the deepest sympathy of the officer. Sergeant Broadrick, in a letter, gives the date of the accident as the 26 January. He says every possible aid and attention was given at the time of the accident and he was quickly removed in a motor ambulance to the hospital. ‘We can ill afford to lose such a valuable man’. Gunner Ward was 24 years of age, and had been in France about seven months. He was formerly with Messrs Lawrence*, florists, Valley Bridge Parade’…
*The family business of Lieutenant Harry Lawrence.
Following his demise on 28 January 1917, the remains of Robert Ward were interred into a burial ground used by the various Casualty Clearing Stations located at Varennes during the war and located on the outskirts of the village. It is today known as ‘Varennes Military Cemetery’, and contains the graves of 1,218 casualties of the Great War. Robert’s final resting place is located in Section 1, Row H, Grave 11.
In addition to the Oliver’s Mount War Memorial, elsewhere in Scarborough Robert William Ward is commemorated on the large stone ‘Roll of Honour’ located on the north interior wall of St Mary’s Parish Church that contains the names of 156 former members of the Parish of St Mary’s who lost their lives whilst on active service during the Great War of 1914-1919.