Walter Willie Ward


About Walter Willie

  • Name
    Walter Willie
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    30 July 1885
  • Birth town
    Earlham, Norfolk
  • Resided town
    Norwich, Norfolk
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Norwich, Norfolk
  • Date of death
  • Married
  • Occupation
    Draper’s Traveller

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Royal Garrison Artillery


Private Walter  Ward was serving with the 72nd Training Reserve and stationed at Prees Heath Camp, Shropshire when he passed through Peterborough East Station on 27 December 1916.  He wrote in the visitor’s book “Many thanks for the kindness that I have received in my short stay”.  Walter may have been transiting between home and his unit prior to deployment to France on 13 January 1917.

Whilst this soldier can not be positively identified it is thought that he was Walter Willie Ward born in Earlham, Norfolk on 30 July 1885 to parents Thomas, a bailiff, and Anna (nee Horne).  Walter was one of seven children.  In 1901, Walter (15) was living with his parents and brother James (32) at 27 Church Lane, Eaton, Norwich, both his father and brother were agricultural labourers and Walter was a milk boy.

On 26 December 1910, Walter married Gertrude Emily Moore in Norwich.  In 1911, Walter (25) was living at The Bell Hotel, Orford Hill, Norwich and was a domestic indoor servant (boots) and his wife, Gertrude was living 68 Northumberland Street, Dereham Road, Norwich and working as a boot fitter.

Walter joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner on 25 August 1916.  He was 5ft 7in tall and had a 38in chest.  On 24 November 1916, he transferred to the 72nd Reserve Battalion, a Lancashire Fusiliers training battalion, before joining the Lancashire Fusiliers on 13 January 1917 for service in France.  To learn more about Reserve Battalions please follow this link:

Walter served in France, from 13 January to 21 November 1917.  He was admitted to hospital on 10 November suffering from an unknown fever, this was probably trench fever, which later was found to be caused from bacteria carried by body lice.  To learn more about trench fever in World War 1 please see Walter was transferred back to England on Hospital Ship St Patrick but he returned to France on 31 March 1918.  On 26 April 1918, Walter was reported as “missing in the field”.  He was captured as a Prisoner of War at Givenchy and interred at Parchim Prisoner of War Camp in Germany.

Walter returned to England on 13 January 1919 and was discharged on 24 October 1919.  A week following his demobilisation he became depressed, anxious and shaky and in March 1920 he was sent to Ashurst Neurasthenic Hospital at Littlemoor in Oxfordshire, where he stayed for seven weeks.  At a medical board on 8 July 1920, he was deemed to be much improved and he stated that he was going to America the following week.  The medical board diagnosed a 30% disability, which would last for about twelve months and was mostly attributable to hardships he suffered as a prisoner of war.  Walter was awarded the British War and Allied Victory medals.

Walter and Gertrude sailed from Liverpool to Ridgway, New Jersey on HMS Baltic on 15 July 1920.  They were initially to stay with an aunt, Mrs H Robinson, but at that stage they were uncertain if their residence would be permanent.  There is also a record of Gertrude sailing from Liverpool again in 1925.

We have been unable to trace Walter and Gertrude on either US Censuses or the 1939 Register.  However, we may have found their deaths:  Walter in 1953, aged 57 in Norwich and Gertrude in 1917 in North Walsham.  No children were traced.

Could you be related to Walter Ward.  Do you know if they set up home in America?  Do get in touch if you can tell us more.


You must be logged in to post a comment.