First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Ernest Alfred WARD (1896–1918)

Some of this information is repeated under the next entry for Ernest’s brother Henry Ward

Ernest Ward

Ernest Alfred Ward was born in Old Marston in 1896, the son of Henry George Ward (born in Marston and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church on 23 December 1868) and Emily Knibb or Knibbs (born in Abingdon in 1871, reg. second quarter).

Ernest's mother Emily Knibb was described as being of St Clement’s in Oxford when she married Henry George Ward at St Nicholas’s Church on 7 June1892. The couple had four children:

  • Emily Louisa Ward (born in Marston in 1892 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church in September)
  • Cecil John King Ward (born in Marston in 1894 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church on 26 August)
  • Ernest Alfred Ward (born in Marston in 1896 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church on 20 September)
  • Henry George Ward (born in Marston in 1898, reg. third quarter).

Ernest’s father was originally a farm labourer. At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Old Marston. Ernest was then a schoolboy of four, and his father a gardener. In March 1903 Ernest's father was appointed a gardener at Corpus Christi College.

Ernest (14) and his older brother Cecil (16) were both working as errand boys for a florist at the time of the 1911 census, and their father was still a jobbing gardener. Their sister Emily Louisa (18) was not at home: she was living at Church Farm, Elsfield as the servant of the Hatt family.

Poppy In the First World War Ernest Alfred Ward served as a Corporal in the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 201394). He was killed in action at the Somme in France at the age of 21 on 21 March 1918.

He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Pozières Memorial (Panel 50 and 51) and on the Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston.

Twenty months earlier on 23 July 1916 Ernest’s brother Henry had also been killed at the Somme. When their father died over twenty years later in 1939, their mother Emily had the following words added to his gravestone in St Nicholas’s churchyard:


His cousin Richard Knibbs was killed in Belgium in 1917 and is also on the memorial in St Nicholas's Church.


Old Marston memorial

Ernest’s parents
  • Henry George Ward died at the age of 73 on 26 September 1939 and was buried in St Nicholas’s churchyard.
  • Mrs Emily Ward died at the age of 69 on 3 March 1941 and was buried with her husband.
Ernest’s siblings
  • Emily Louisa Ward (born 1892) married Arthur R. Clarke in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1928. Arthur was a farm carter and they lived at Stow Wood. They had two children baptised at St Nicholas’s Church: Ernest Henry Martin Clarke (born on 10 February and baptised on 31 March 1929) and Stanley Reginald Clarke (born on 27 February and baptised on 5 April 1931).
  • Cecil John King Ward (born 1894) married Lilian N. M. Giles in the Woodstock registration district in the third quarter of 1920.
  • Henry George Ward (born 1898) also died in the First World War: see separate entry

See also

Back to Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website