Warrant Officer John Percy Ward


John Percy Ward was born at Aldeburgh, Suffolk around 1880, son of gardener William Ward.

On 1 September 1902, after four years with the Norfolk Garrison Artilllery (No.786), he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery at Hounslow (No.26334). After completion of his eight years' service, all of it in the UK, he transferred to the Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as "exemplary," with "no offence in whole service of 8 years thoroughly sober and trustworthy & hard working. Has been employed as officer servant and given satisfaction."

Soon after this he moved to Ireland, where he was employed as valet to Robert Jocelyn, Lord Roden (an officer of the North Irish Horse), at his Tullymore Park estate in County Down. While there he served as scoutmaster of the 1st Roden Troop of Boy Scouts.

On the outbreak of war, with weeks remaining of his time in the army reserve, Ward received his mobilisation orders. He reported for duty at the Newcastle-on-Tyne depot on 5 August, but was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service.

Ward was anxious to serve, and on 8 September 1914 a Lieutenant-Colonel Hotham wrote to the Royal Artillery at Woolwich from the Tullymore Park Estate Office:

No.26334 Gunner J.P Ward reservist RFA reported himself at Newcastle Depot on mobilization orders being issued in August last. He was medically examined & found unfit for service & was told he would get further instructions at the end of the month. Gunner Ward returned here where he is employed as Valet to the Earl of Roden. Some of his papers were retained at Newcastle. Gunner Ward's time in the reserve was up on August the 31st & he would like to know what he is to do. He is willing to serve if required.

Nothing came of this so, presumably with the assistance of his employer, on 5 January 1915 Ward enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.1389). He immediately applied for a transfer to his former regiment, the 20th Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery, at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey. This took place on 20 February (No.88382) and he was posted to No.4 Section.

Just prior to his joining the North Irish Horse, Ward had married Gertrude Elizabeth Wylie of Killough, County Down. Their child, John William Oliver Ward, was born on 13 April 1915.

Ward embarked for France with his regiment on 22 July 1915. Over the following years he was steadily promoted – by 16 April 1915 he was a sergeant and on 29 November 1916 he reached the rank of Battery Sergeant-Major (Warrant Officer Class 2).

In June 1917 Ward was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal "for valuable services rendered with the Armies in the Field."

On 19 March 1919 he volunteered for a further year's service with the artillery. He was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 27 December that year. Ward was discharged on demobilisation on 31 March 1920, his military character marked as "exemplary", and was awarded a 40 per cent disability pension.