23rd April 2017 – Private John Edward Ward
St George’s Day – a beautiful Spring Sunday evening with the smells and sounds of BBQ’s in the air …. and then the Framland Ringers come along to make a noise by ringing a commemorative half muffled quarter peal for Private John Edward Ward. This is the first of 6 quarters for 2017, part of the WW1 commemorative events taking place in Hoby.
Our Chairman called this quarter with Reverse Canterbury, Winchendon Place, St. Nicholas and then back to Reverse Canterbury. This was a new combination of methods for these commemorative quarters. The combination worked extremely well. Using methods with places in the middle instead of dodging seemed to work really well on the muffled back stroke. It was during the extents of St Nicholas, where I thought to myself, how well it was going and which photographs should I use to accompany this web report, is there anyone to take a group photo and how should we pose – and then the inevitable … I got lost! Thankfully, the other ringers put me in my place immediately and we carried on. Apart from my momentary lapse of concentration, the rest of the ringing was very good. It was a quarter we can be proud of in tribute to this soldier. We were met afterwards by the church warden and new vicar who thanked us for the ringing. After the “meet and greet” time was getting on so we rang down and left – we didn’t get to take the group photo.
Private John Edward Ward (born 1888) was killed in action aged 29 in 1917. He initially worked as a labourer before enlisting in the Leicestershire Regiment in 1906. He was posted to India in 1907. Along with his regiment, he was mobilised at the outbreak of the First World War and went into the trenches at Calonne. Later he was at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and also the Battle of Festubert. His regiment went “over the top” at the Battle of Loos, where many of his comrades were killed or seriously injured. John was one of the many casualties sustaining a severe gunshot injury to his head and face. Following hospital treatment in Boulogne, John re-joined his unit eventually reaching Ali Al-Gharbi. Days were hot and humid, yet nights were freezing cold. These were difficult climate conditions especially for those still recovering from wounds. Medical facilities were inadequate against endemic tropical diseases, and John was among those who fell ill becoming hospitalised. He did re-join his regiment, eventually making steady progress through Turkish defences (after several previous unsuccessful attempts) finally reaching Baghdad. The Leicestershire Regiment were the first to enter the city following its fall. Operations continued further north with the aim to seize Samarrah. It was during these operations that Private John Ward was killed (2 days before Samarrah was taken).
John’s parents had not seen him since he sailed to India in 1907 when he joined the army. This was 10 years before his death. He was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. John is remembered on the Hoby War Memorial.
The Society will be ringing again at Hoby on 14th May 2017 for the next half muffled quarter peal. Details about the future half muffled quarter peals can be found via http://www.hobyanddistricthistory.co.uk/commemorative-half-muffled-quarter-peals/