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Finding a Solider from 1911 Census


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HistoryEnthusiast

Hello,

 

I've been researching a WWI soldier and come up short - I've listed below everything I've done so far. I would appreciate any suggestions before I give up!

 

John WARD born 7 June 1890 in Sheffield but moved to London with family around 1895/6. He stayed in the London area for the rest of his life. In the 1911 census, he is a private with the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment in India: (https://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2352&h=39042195). He married Jessie Bovington in Fulham on 7 June 1914. His profession (on certificate) is Soldier.

 

John Ward definitely survived WWI...but where was he? He was still a soldier on his June 1914 marriage certificate and presumably hadn't completed his term of service so was he still with the army when war broke out? I don't think he would have stayed with 1st West Yorkshires as there's no relevant medal roll (e.g. 1914/15 Star) for him and the battalion was largely wiped out in early stages of war. If John Ward did transfer, is there any way of knowing where he went and/or what happened to him. I've tried a process of elimination (no middle name, low rank, survived war) but can't find anything which indicates where he was - it doesn't help that he had such a common name!

 

I wonder whether anyone has any suggestions about how to proceed? All ideas gratefully received!

 

Thanks,

Gemma

Edited by HistoryEnthusiast
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Have you found his MIC [medal index card?

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HistoryEnthusiast

Thanks johnboy. No I’ve been going through the medal index cards but John Ward is a very common name - think there’s around 1,000 when I search! Even after eliminating the soldiers who died, I still can’t find him. It doesn’t help that I don’t really know his regiment.

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Hi,

 

The General Registrars Index of Births in England & Wales has only one likely child of the couple – the birth of a Sidney S. Ward, mothers maiden name Bovington, was registered in the Hammersmith District of London in the April to June quarter, (Q2), of 1919. It’s possibly post discharge for John Ward date wise, but just wondering if the birth certificate has been checked for fathers’ occupation?

 

It is also likely to give you an address, (where the birth took place, address of informant), that might well be where John was living. Given how close in time that would have been to the production of the 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters Lists it will also allow you to make a much more targeted search for military information there.

 

There is a bit more on how the Absent Voter Lists can help here:-

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/how-to-research-a-soldier/finding-soldiers-through-the-1918-absent-voters-lists/

 

Given his date of birth and the likelihood he signed up for 12 years, (with part of it in the colours, part in the reserves), then possibly he may have still have been in the Army past the 1920 cut-off point, beyond which records were retained by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD put out a list a few years back of service records they had retained for men born before 1901 and I believe it’s now available as a database on Ancestry. Some forum members also kept a copy of the original list – might be worth doing a search of the forum.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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7 minutes ago, HistoryEnthusiast said:

Thanks johnboy. No I’ve been going through the medal index cards but John Ward is a very common name - think there’s around 1,000 when I search! Even after eliminating the soldiers who died, I still can’t find him. It doesn’t help that I don’t really know his regiment.

I would look under the Regimenthat you know and service numberIf hewas still in the regular army at the outbreak of war he might have stayed in the same regiment

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HistoryEnthusiast

Thank you PRC. Of course birth certificates will give more information. As well as Sydney, the couple had another son (John E Ward) in first quarter 1915 so hopefully this will give me more information.

 

The absent voter lists and MoD records should be really helpful, especially as I should have an address from the birth certificates.

 

I think I’ve been too caught up with medal rolls and service records that I’ve overlooked  other sources. Thank you - you’ve provided a fresh perspective!

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At the time he joined up, the terms of service would have been "7 years with colours and 5 years reserve".  As it has been stated he was a soldier at the time of his marriage in June 1914, I think it most likely he was still with his original regiment 1st West Yorkshires at the outbreak of war, so agree with john boy's comment above.

 

 Perhaps you cannot find a   medal index card or medal roll because he did  not go to France. He may not have been medically fit for front line service, or he may have been in some sort of training role for new recruits  with the regimental depot in the UK.

 

MOD database  on Ancestry mentioned by PRC  is UK, Military Discharge Indexes, 1920-1971

 

Maureen

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Hi Gemma, a difficult one. Are you certain that that is even him in the 1911 Census?

 

I don't suppose you know where his medals are, you would get his service number from them.

 

Mike

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George Rayner

Looking on Ancestry he has an elder brother Ernest RGA 27015 died 1916 but that has led no where for John I'm afraid

 

George

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Assuming he didn’t lie about his age, (big assumption – hopefully the age quoted on the marriage certificate is correct for the 1890 birth date as that document would also have to go to the military authorities if he wanted to claim a dependants allowance), then unless he was a boy musician, (nothing to indicate this on the 1911 census), the earliest he could have enlisted was the 7th June 1908 on a 12 year term, (with various possible splits between being in the colours and being in the reserves) or a 21 year term. As a Special Reservist he won’t have gone to India so that possibility can be discounted.

And if he was in India at the time of the 1911 Census , (taken 2nd April 1911), he is likely to have been in the Army at least six months.

 

So potentially looking at an enlistment period 7th June 1908 to September 1910.

 

Paul Nixons’ Army Service Number site has identified that the Regular Army Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment issued:-

8751 joined on 29th January 1908

9064 joined on 12th January 1909

9321 joined on 9th March 1910

9453 joined on 29th January 1911

https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2009/09/west-yorkshire-regiment-1st-2nd.html

 

Looking at the Medal Index Cards in the National Archive for John Ward’s, (no middle names), serving initially with the West Yorkshire Regiment and with numbers falling in that range I can only see:-

8891 Landed France 5th November 1914 with the 2nd Battalion.

 

While he could have been a mobilised Reservist, if he was serving with the 2nd Battalion pre-war then the Long, Long Trail tell us:-

 

2nd Battalion

August 1914 : in Malta.

Returned to England and landed at Southampton on 25 September 1914.

25 September 1914 : came under orders of 23rd Brigade, 8th Division, forming up at Hursley Park near Winchester.

Landed at Le Havre 5 November 1914.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/the-prince-of-waless-own-west-yorkshire-regiment/

 

Which doesn’t really tie in with a June 1914 wedding in Fulham. And unfortunately the 26 year old Lance Corporal 8891 John Ward was killed in action on the 10th March 1915. Additional information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is that he was the “Son of Arthur Ward, of 33, Branch Church St., Hunslet, Leeds.”

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1563592/JOHN WARD/

But it is not a complete dead end. Soldiers Died in the Great War gives his place of birth as Darnall, Sheffield. I suspect this is the John Ward on the 1911 Census of England & Wales serving with the 2nd Battalion in India.

 

On the 1891 Census of England & Wales that four month old John Ward, (born Attercliffe, Yorkshire), father Arthur, (26, a Glass Engraver, born Sheffield) and the rest of the family were living at Darnall, Sheffield. I couldn’t readily spot the family on the 1901 Census but by 1911 they were living at 3 St Marys Court, Hunslet. Arthur now gives his place of birth as “Attercliff”. He and his wife Eliza hjave been married 25 years and the marriage has produced 9 children, of which 6 were then still alive, and 5 were living with them - but no John. A bit of Genealogical legwork would establish, (hopefully), who the 9 were and whether their son John was already dead or simply away from the household.

 

I strongly suspect the West Yorkshire Regiment John Ward may turn out just to be a co-incidence.

 

Regards,

Peter

Edited by PRC
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HistoryEnthusiast

Thank you all for your help. It's been very useful to get a different perspective.

 

I agree he should be with his original regiment but I can't find a medal roll, particularly not for 1914/15 Star. If he stayed with the 1st West Yorkshires I don't think he would have survived very long - the regiment was almost wiped out (and presumably re-organised) in the Battle of the Aisne. There is not enough detail in the medal rolls to identify my soldier.

 

Maureene - I think you might be right. Perhaps he had a medical reason for not going to the front. This would explain why he survived.

 

Skipman - I'm not 100% on the 1911 census but it does fit with everything else I know -  birth place, year, soldier on marriage record. He didn't really have a trade either so the army must have been an attractive career.

 

George Rayner - John's brother is an interesting if sad story - he was a prisoner of the Ottomans before dying of enteritis. But yes - doesn't help me with John.

 

I've found him on the 1918 Electoral Register - living with his wife and sister-in-law in Hammersmith: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1795/images/40020_215066-00140 So he's presumably not in on the Absent Voters List or still serving with the army.

 

I think my best bet is to get a birth certificate for his son - John Ernest Ward (born 1915). This should hopefully tell me where he was in 1915, perhaps even a regiment. Thank you everyone - I'll let you know if I solve the mystery!

 

Gemma

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HistoryEnthusiast

Peter,

 

Just seen your reply. Thank you for your research - I think you may be right! It would explain why I can't find my John Ward. I think I need to look at this second John Ward - hopefully I can confirm which one is in the 1911 census!

 

I'm still going to order the 1915 birth certificate - fingers crossed it has more occupation information on than simply "Soldier"!

 

Thanks,

 

Gemma

Edited by HistoryEnthusiast
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On 22/04/2021 at 14:00, HistoryEnthusiast said:

It would explain why I can't find my John Ward. I think I need to look at this second John Ward - hopefully I can confirm which one is in the 1911 census!

 

If we take the West Yorkshire Regiment man out of the picture and look at the 1911 Census of England & Wales for any other John Ward born Sheffield circa 1890 and with a military connection, you also get a 20 year old Driver John Ward, Army Service Corps, who was recorded in a barracks at Grosvenor Road, Westminster, London. I suspect given the mix of units and that there are also officers in with them it might either be the barracks hospital or associated with it – the status of the names on the previous page are all civilian patients.

 

Unfortunately there are just too many John Ward’s serving with the ASC for me to search through. However as a starting point, if you restrict the search to just those who commenced the war with the rank Driver and who have no middle names you end up down to 12.

 

Some of those have service numbers that begin with pre-fixes like T4 or M2 – my understanding, (and don’t quote me on it!), are that those relate to the various Kitchener Army waves of recruitment, K2, K3 & K4. So as they are wartime only recruits you can probably park them temporarily to concentrate on the five remaining.

 

42753 – but looks like it is just a Silver War Badge MiC. I don’t subscribe to Ancestry so can only see the preview version in the National Archive, (well I could download it but my hard drive is filling up with stuff downloaded from the NA !). Think it says he enlisted in 1917.

 

T/25622 – 14th Field Ambulance, landed France 18th August 1914.

 

T/27430 – 3 Company, 4th Divisional Train, landed France 22nd August 1914 as a Shoeing Smith Driver.

 

T/31261 subsequently 39532 Yorkshire Light Infantry. Landed France 20th August 1914 – unit shown on MiC is 6th Reserve Park. FMP has a Medical Admission Register for the 4 Stationary Hospital for him on the 10th August 1915. That soldier was then aged 21, so can be ruled out as a possible for your man.

 

T1/212 -  2 A.D.H.D.. Landed France 8th October 1914. FMP has a Medical Admission record for “Driver 212 J. Ward, A.S.C. attached  86th Field Ambulance” who was admitted to 28th General Hospital from 25 CCS on the 16th July 1916. He was then aged 24 so again looks like he can be ruled out.

 

So nothing definitive,  but the 1911 Census of England & Wales would at least put a Sheffield born John Ward of the right age serving in the London area where he might meet and court his future wife.

 

Hope that gives you another option.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

Edited by PRC
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Was his second name (henry used in 1901 or 1911 Census?

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HistoryEnthusiast

Wow! Thank you for your research. I'm 99.9% sure John did not have a middle name so I've been eliminating any results with middle names.

 

You're right Peter - the 1911 census puts him in the right place to marry in London in 1914. In his 1914 marriage certificate, he's living with a carman (driver?) so he may be lodging with a work colleague. I've looked at all your Peter's results - thank you. I think I can definitely rule out 42753 and T/31261 based on address, but I think there are too many John Wards (and not enough information!) to come to a conclusion. Hopefully the birth certificates will help. I might go back to family as well - John's wife lived until 1986 so many family members remember her and may know something....!

 

Thank you so much for your help. I feel much further on and John's story makes more sense now i.e. if he was a driver, he had a much better chance of surviving the war!

 

Gemma

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The link given for Electorial roll clearly shows Henry as his second name. 

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travers61

Is this the family on the 1939 Register at 56 Abbey Avenue, Wembley.  First entry seems to have had Jessie added to it at a later date, possibly a correction when the NHS started in 1948.

 

Johns seniors dob is just one day out of the one you quote.

 

1200910162_ScreenShot2021-04-24at21_23_18.png.039d93a13ace46d9e324cb68bfc4cfc6.png

image from ancestry.co.uk

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Woodnbits

I don't have access to Ancestry but if the parents are correct this baptism record would give the family address and possibly fathers soldier details.

 

 

image.png.923600fa95724c41cdab535f19533ff2.png

 

Tim 

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The Inspector

Hi  Gemma and All,

His 1914 marriage cert. shows he is at 14 Montague Mews, Hammersmith. It doesn't show who he is living with.  His future wife, Jessie Alexandrina Bovington, is living next door but one at No.10. Her elder sister, Agnes Augusta Bovington, is a witness at the wedding.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1623/images/47188_83024005549_1371-00190?usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&pId=21567976

1911 at No.14 census has the Coales family, the head of the house is a Coachman for an Undertakers.

 John Ward's Father  Samuel, a knife forger. John  had 4 brothers, William ,Ernest, Charles and Sidney

In 1916 when Ernest died of Enteritis Gnr.27015 (as identified previously) the family were living in Sheffield.

On 24/04/2021 at 11:39, HistoryEnthusiast said:

You're right Peter - the 1911 census puts him in the right place to marry in London in 1914. In his 1914 marriage certificate, he's living with a carman (driver?) so he may be lodging with a work colleague. I've looked at all your Peter's results - thank you..... Hopefully the birth certificates will help. I might go back to family as well - John's wife lived until 1986 so many family members remember her and may know something....!

Thank you so much for your help. I feel much further on and John's story makes more sense now i.e. if he was a driver, he had a much better chance of surviving the war!

Gemma

Searching...Regards Barry

1949 at No.56 Abbey Ave., Wembley John and his wife Alexandrina J.

Edited by The Inspector
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25 minutes ago, Woodnbits said:

Between 1921 and 1930 the electoral register has John and Jessie Ward living at 7 South Cottages, Hammersmith, then 7 Riverside Gardens.

 

Ancestry

Appears to have the same with 1918 as well.

 

On 22/04/2021 at 13:55, HistoryEnthusiast said:

I've found him on the 1918 Electoral Register - living with his wife and sister-in-law in Hammersmith: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1795/images/40020_215066-00140 So he's presumably not in on the Absent Voters List or still serving with the army.

 

On 24/04/2021 at 11:50, johnboy said:

The link given for Electorial roll clearly shows Henry as his second name. 

 

As someone who doesn't have a subscription to Ancestry, does the link posted by @HistoryEnthusiast also reflect them living at 7 South Cottages, Hammersmith, and if so is he shown as John Henry.

 

2 hours ago, The Inspector said:

His 1914 marriage cert. shows he is at 14 Montague Mews, Hammersmith. It doesn't show who he is living with.  His future wife, Jessie Alexandrina Bovington, is living next door but one at No.10. Her elder sister, Agnes Augusta Bovington, is a witness at the wedding.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1623/images/47188_83024005549_1371-00190?usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&pId=21567976

 

On 24/04/2021 at 21:30, travers61 said:

1200910162_ScreenShot2021-04-24at21_23_18.png.039d93a13ace46d9e324cb68bfc4cfc6.png

image from ancestry.co.uk

 

Does the age for Jessie tie in with the date of birth on the 1939 Register. Main reason for asking is that means she wouldn't have qualified for the vote (as far as I'm aware), until March 1919, and so if she was on the 1918 Electoral Register at all, it should be noted that she wasn't entitled to the vote for the full year.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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George Rayner
6 minutes ago, PRC said:

As someone who doesn't have a subscription to Ancestry, does the link posted by @HistoryEnthusiast also reflect them living at 7 South Cottages, Hammersmith, and if so is he shown as John Henry.

Just John Ward  

with Sarah and Agnes Bovington interestingly

and yes 7 South Cottages

George

Edited by George Rayner
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image.png.54ebe41c9282303ab5da2e9e284322c4.png

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HistoryEnthusiast

Wow! Thank you all for your research. The family seemed to move around a bit - it will be interesting to know what they are doing when the 1921 census is released!

 

Frustratingly, the John Ernest Ward baptism from Ancestry just lists father as a soldier:

 

 

I've double checked pension records but still can't find him. I've ordered the birth certificates for sons John Ernest and Sidney - I'll let you know if I get anywhere!

Capture.PNG

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HistoryEnthusiast

Hi johnboy,

 

That's James Henry Ward - don't think he's any relation. My John Ward is at 7 South Cottages on the same page.

 

Gemma

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