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41679 Private Walter Ward – NZ Entrenching Battalion

Walter Ward was born in Wellington on 14th May 1894 he was the son of Catherine Ward.[i]

On Walter’s enlistment papers he lists Thomas Ward / Lee and Mary Morgan / Lee as his parents but on his military
papers he lists Mary Robinson as his foster mother[ii].

Walter entered Trentham military camp on 2nd January 1917 as 41679 Private Ward, 24th Reinforcements, he nominates his foster mother Mary Robinson as his next of kin and is noted as working as a farmer living at Tawa Flat and working
on Mr T Robinson’s farm.

Private Ward left New Zealand for overseas service on 14th March 1917 with F Company, 24th Reinforcements. On
arrival in England he was posted the A Company, 4th Reserve Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. After limited
training in England Private Ward was sent to France on 6th July 1917. In France following integration and more training
for Western Front conditions Private Ward was posted on 25th July 1917 to 13th (Nelson) Company, 2nd Canterbury Battalion.

On 17th September 1917 Private Ward was admitted to field hospital with Myalgia which was often an effect of
Trench Fever. However the impacts were limited as Private Ward was back with his unit on 21st September 1917.

On the 12th October 1917 the New Zealand Division was committed to the Battle of Passchendaele and Private Ward
was wounded with gunshot wound (GSW) to the shoulder. The wound was severe enough for Private Ward to be
evacuated to England and the No 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst. Following treatment and recovery Private Ward
was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch on 19th October 1917. Private Ward  remained at the Depot
until 30th November 1917 when he was sent back to the reserves at Codford.

With the German Spring offensive all spare men were sent to France, Private Ward was shipped on the 20th March 1918 and on 24th March 1918 was posted to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion. On 16th April 1918 Private Ward was wounded a second time possibly from a shell bursting as he suffered a wound to the face and concussion. Private Ward was again evacuated to the rear by the 19th Feild Ambulance and admitted to the 4th General Hospital, Estaples, France where he remained until rejoining the 2nd Entrenching Battalion on 17th June 1918.

On 31st July 1918 Private Ward was evacuated sick with influenza and was hospitalised for two weeks and then attached
to the Reserves at Estaples . While in the Reserves Private Ward was assessed by a Medical Board as Class C which meant he was unfit for active service so was shipped back to Enland. Private Ward was attached to the NZ HQ, London on
23rd October 1918.

Private Ward’s military files are vague but he may have been granted leave and  during this leave visited Scotland where
his ‘father’ Thomas/Lee is listed as being born. The visit to Scotland is recorded by his marriage to Kathleen Semple on Armistice Day 11th November 1918 at Glasgow, Scotland[iii].

The now married Private Ward returned to England and was admitted to hospital at Codford with a viral disease on
11th December 1918. Private Ward was discharged on 31st December 1918. Private Ward then waited in Torquay for
return to New Zealand which did not occur until the 13th September 1919. There is nothing of file to the long period of
time spent in Torquay there may have been delays associated with arrnaging for his wife to also come to New Zealand.

On 7th November 1919 Private Ward disembarked in New Zealand from the Paparoa. It is highly likely that Private Ward
was accompanied by his wife Kathleen as there were 220 men of all ranks, 160 wives and 59 children listed in newspaper reports[iv]. Private Ward remained with the army for another month and was then discharged 5th December 1919 ‘no longer physically fit for war service.’

Walter and Kathleen indicated that they would be living with Walter’s foster parents in Tawa. The marriage was not a
happy one. On 19th November 1919 Walter (Wallie) Ward sued his wife Castherine for restitution[v]. This was followed
by a request for a divorce in June 1922[vi].

Walter Ward is listed on the 1928 Electroal Roll as a farm labourer from Tawa Flat.

Walter Ward died on the 14th October 1934 the Evening Post[vii] noting:

Ward – On October 14, 1934, at Wellington Hospital. Private Walter Ward,
Regimental Number 41679, NZ Entrenching Battalion, NZEF.; aged 40 years.

Walter is buried in the old Porirua Cemetery.

Reference
NZ BDM
Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files

Photo
Porirua City Council – Porirua Cemetery

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 41679 Private Walter Ward
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 41679 Private Walter Ward
[iv] Paparoa Arrives, 8th November 1919, Manawatu Herald
[v] Ward v Ward, 19th November 1921, NZ Truth
[vi] Ward v Ward, 3rd June 1922, NZ Truth
[vii] BDM- Ward, 15th October 1934, Evening Post
Walter Ward's grave in Porirua Cemetery