Private William Charles Forward


William Charles Forward was born in May 1888 at Holton, Wincanton, Somerset, the fourth or fifth of eight children of farm labourer Edward John Forward and his wife Emily Sarah (nee Moon). He grew up with his family at Holton, but by the time of the 1911 Census was boarding at 3 Coombe Terrace, Sherborne, Dorset, and working as a groom.

Forward must have been working in the north of Ireland when war was declared, for on 8, 9 or 10 August 1914 he enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.969 – later Corps of Hussars No.71180). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Forward remained with the regiment throughout the war, though how much time he spent in France and Belgium and how much at the Antrim depot is not known present.

On 3 June 1919 Forward was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was granted a pension until 1921 due to 'chest trouble' which was attributed to his military service.

After the war he returned to England, initially living at Holton. It is likely that he was the William C. Forward who married Elizabeth M. Brown at Chrischurch, Hampshire, in 1921. By the time of the 1939 Register the couple were living at Penheale Cottage, Launceston, Cornwall, William working as 'head gardener'.