First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Henry George WARD (1898–1916)

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

Henry Ward

Henry George Ward was born in Marston in 1898, 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).

Henry'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).

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

Henry (12) was at school at the time of the 1911 census, while his older brothers Cecil (16) and Ernest (14) were both working as errand boys for a florist, 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.

On 10 September 1912 Henry (aged 14) was appointed by Corpus Christi College as “boy” to their college butler Charlie Bancalari.

Poppy In the First World War Henry George Ward served as a Private in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 4715).

He must have lied about his age, as men had to be 18 to enlist and 19 to be sent to the Front. He was killed in action at the Somme in France at the age of 17 on 23 July 1916.

Ward was buried in the Pozières British Cemetery at Ovillers-La Boisselle (I.A.28), and his war grave there has the added words “HE HATH DONE WHAT HE COULD”. (Only 40% of war headstones bear an inscription such as this near their base: the main inscription was free, but families had to pay 3½d per letter for a personal message.)

He is remembered on the Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston, and he and another servant of Corpus Christi College, Oxford are remembered at the end of the war memorial board on the wall of that college's chapel (below):

Ward on CCC war memorial

He is also at the end of the college's online roll of honour.

Twenty months later on 21 March 1918, Henry’s brother Ernest was also 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

Henry’s parents
  • Henry George Ward died at the age of 73 on 26 September 1939 and was buried in St Nicholas’s churchyard.
  • Emily Ward died at the age of 69 on 3 March 1941 and was buried with her husband.
Henry’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.
  • Ernest Alfred Ward (born 1896) 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