For King and Country

Person Details

WARD, Jesse

Memorials

Name: Cookham School Lane, Cookham
NIWM Ref: 7925
RBWM Ref: WM151

Person Details

Place of birth: Cookham
A.K.A: Jessie   WARD
Gender: Male
Date of death: 30/11/1917
Place of death: Villiers Guislain, France
Manner of death: Killed in action
Age at death: 34
CWGC Ref: 1757644
TWGPP Ref: 3563162
Address: 8 Hamfield Cottages Lower Road Cookham Rise

Military details

Military Organisation: Army
Military Unit/Group: 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
Rank: Private
Service Number: 203328

Relatives

Father Ben WARD
Mother Catherine Mary WARD
Brother Herbert S WARD
Brother George WARD
Sister Beatrice M WARD
Sister Edith WARD
Sister Catherine M WARD
Brother William WARD
Sister Rose WARD
Brother Thomas WARD
Sister Ethel WARD
Brother Horace WARD
Sister Winifred WARD

Additional information

Jesse Ward was born in 1893, one of 12 children (including two sets of twins) to Ben and Catherine Ward. The 1891 census has errors as he is shown as a girl and called Jessica. Their home was 8, Hamfield Cottages, Cookham Rise. Ben was a shoemaker who in due course, became Bootmaker to the Maidenhead Union, the local workhouse (now incorporated into St. Mark's Hospital) but which also had other homes in the area. In the 1901 census there is another error, with Jesse, this time correctly shown as a boy, living in Cookham High Street near the Bel and Dragon Inn, working as a butcher's assistant, but with his name misspelled as Jessie!
Jesse signed up to the 5th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. The battalion had been formed at the start of the war in August 1914 and was part of the first of Kitchener's Armies to be deployed. It arrived in France in 1915 and was involved in many of the major battles after that time. On 16th November 1917, the battalion was moved up to Peronne behind the front line and from around 20th they were engaged in heavy fighting at the front close to the River Escaut. On the morning of 30th November the battalion was near Gouzeaucourt, about 10 miles south west of Cambrai when the enemy attacked at 7.15 am following a heavy artillery barrage. The battalion was drawn into the fighting suffering heavy casualties. On 2nd December the Regimental Diary records the casualties over the previous three days as 57 killed, including two officers, 122 wounded and 123 missing. The battalion had been reduced to 100 men, a mere 25% of the full complement three days earlier. Jesse Ward was one of the casualties, dying on 30th November. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated at Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, about five miles from where he died. He was 34.

Resources

Summary: Regimental Battle Report on day of death - no link (too long to cut and paste in entirety)
Location: France, Villiers Guislain. Heavy barrage fell on front of Right Division (55th) and on our lines and the whole Divisional front at 7a.m. At 7.15a.m. the enemy attacked in great force (1) 55th Division on the Right. This attack was completely successful and the enemy got through in very large numbers to GONNELIEU, GOUZEAUCOURT and VILLIERS GUISLAIN, on which line they were held. (2) On LATEAU Wood - North East position of Divisional Front. This attack drove back the 36th and 37th Infy Bde, who withdrew slowly bombing all the way. So far the Battalion had not been attacked and we did not know that any attack had been launched. At 7.30a.m. the enemy attacked QUARRY POST under a barrage of heavy T.M's and simultaneously bombed up NEW Trench from the south. The enemy succeeded in getting into the trenches and fierce bombing fighting ensued down QUARRY Trench and QUARRY Support. They were several times driven back and at 9.30a.m. enemy were still held on line of ADAMS trench, though enemy had broken through on both flanks. Owing to difficulty of supply of bombs, we had gradually to withdraw down BLEAK Trench and BLEAK Support. The 9th ESSEX Regt were meanwhile holding the enemy who had come down through lines of 7th Norfolk Regt. Bn. H.Q. had meanwhile withdrawn to a position about 500 yds further W in original German Front Line. At 10.30a.m. the news was received that the enemy were in GOUZEAUCOURT and that the Northern position of the Divisional front had been pierced. At 10.45a.m. the O's C of this Bn. And of the 9th ESSEX Regt issued orders to all Companies that they were to withdraw fighting in direction of VILLIERS PLOUICH. The situation was very uncertain, but there was no one between us and the enemy in the Right flank and the enemy were entirely overlooking our Left Flank. Enemy aeroplanes were co-operating very closely with their infantry flying very slow and signalling. The withdrawal was gradually carried out along the Old German Front Line, through

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund