Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - Ernest William Ward
Died 27th October 1914, aged 24
Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, French Flanders
A promising start in life
Ernest William Ward was the second Quorn man to die in WW1. He was a regular soldier and had signed up for the Leicestershire Regiment in Mountsorrel in 1908, aged 18, having previously been in the Territorials.
Ernest’s parents, John Thomas and Elizabeth Ward (née Cross), were both born in Quorn around 1870, and came from families that ran large farms in the village. John took over his father’s farm on Soar Road, and when he married Elizabeth in 1889, the couple settled in the family home, ‘The Wharf’. They had five children, Ernest being their second, and the family seemed to have a promising future ahead of them.
Life was not kind to the Ward family
Sadly this situation was short-lived. The 1901 census shows John, with three of his children, including 9 year old Ernest, living at The Wharf, as a farmer and employer, and running the house with the help of a live-in housekeeper. The other two children (the eldest and youngest), John Charles aged 10 and Annie aged 4, were living with Elizabeth’s aunt, Elizabeth Holmes on Cross Farm in the north of the village. In June 1900 Ernest’s mother had been committed to the asylum at Narborough, suffering from severe psychological problems. She remained there for three years, and although she was discharged in May 1903, she was readmitted a year later, and was still there after Ernest was killed. Ernest’s childhood must have been difficult enough, but more tragedy followed in 1902 when his 33 year old father John Thomas died; Ernest was just 10 years old.
It is probable that Ernest and his young sisters, Evelyn and Jessie, also went to live with Elizabeth’s aunt, but this can’t have been easy as by then she was 66. Ernest joined the Army in 1908 aged 18, and by 1911, his sisters were in domestic service.
Ernest joins the Army
It has not been possible to trace a photograph of Ernest, but his army attestation papers show that he was almost 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed nearly 9 stones, had brown hair and grey eyes.
As a regular soldier, Ernest’s services would have been valuable amongst all the new recruits, and he was quickly promoted to the rank of Corporal. Two months into the war Ernest was wounded and died as a result of his injuries on 27th October 1914. In the confusion following the action, Ernest was initially reported as missing, and it was several months before his death was confirmed. His body is buried in Houplines Cemetery, close to where he was wounded. As his mother was in an asylum, records show that his effects were sent to his elder brother, John Charles Ward, c/o Mrs Martin on Church Lane in Quorn.
1) A modern photograph of ‘The Wharf’ (far left) and the Wharf House on Soar Road.
2) A photograph of Ernest’s mother, Elizabeth Ward, from Narborough Asylum records.
3) An extract from Elizabeth’s records from Narborough Asylum. She was certified by Doctor Unitt, who was Quorn’s village doctor and also lived on Soar Road. The diagnosis was ‘melancholia’, which was deemed to be hereditary. She refused to speak at all and was recorded as having delusions.