The Manchester Regiment Forum

The Great War => 1914 - 1918 => Topic started by: sward888 on May 26, 2015, 03:54:54 PM

Title: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 26, 2015, 03:54:54 PM
Dear all,

May I introduce myself. I am the great nephew of 2nd Lt Philip Ward who was KiA on the Menin Road at Polderhoek Chateau, December 27th 1917.

I have been working on a website in memory of Philip, whose story, like that of so many others, had been all but forgotten. I would be very very grateful if anyone can help me in my research please. I had a wonderful email from his old school, Rossall, which informed me that he had been recommended for an MC for his part in the counter attack of December 14th 1917. He was involved in retaking a pillbox called Jericho. On my site I have posted a panorama from the Imperial War Museum showing no mans land and the pillbox, a great find. Sadly he was killed by shellfire 13 days later.

If anyone has access to personal diaries from that time I would love to hear from them.

Many thanks,
Steve

https://ltphilipward.wordpress.com/ (https://ltphilipward.wordpress.com/)
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: Pete Th on May 26, 2015, 06:35:53 PM
Hi Steve, welcome to the forum. What a great tribute to your great uncle.

Thanks for sharing

Pete
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on May 26, 2015, 10:51:51 PM
hiya steve.
you and your dad have created a fine memorial for 2/Lt ward and a brilliant family tree,a lot of hard work has gone into your site.

a few years ago,i was curious why 2/Lt ward had no grave,i started searching around for anything I could find.
I strongly believe that he and two of his men,who were killed the same day,are buried as unknowns,side by side in poelcapelle british cemetery,and I think 2/Lt ward is buried in grave ref. VIA.A.9.

I wouldn't stick my neck out with something as sensitive as this,unless I was fairly sure,the grave hes buried in,is in the same row as 2/Lt Kendrick yorke-jones,who was killed the day before[grave ref VIA.A.2.]

you need to be sure in your own mind if it is his grave and not take my word for it.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 27, 2015, 05:09:42 AM
Hi Steve, welcome to the forum. What a great tribute to your great uncle.

Thanks for sharing

Pete

Thanks Pete, I appreciate that.

Cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 27, 2015, 05:12:21 AM
hiya steve.
you and your dad have created a fine memorial for 2/Lt ward and a brilliant family tree,a lot of hard work has gone into your site.

a few years ago,i was curious why 2/Lt ward had no grave,i started searching around for anything I could find.
I strongly believe that he and two of his men,who were killed the same day,are buried as unknowns,side by side in poelcapelle british cemetery,and I think 2/Lt ward is buried in grave ref. VIA.A.9.

I wouldn't stick my neck out with something as sensitive as this,unless I was fairly sure,the grave hes buried in,is in the same row as 2/Lt Kendrick yorke-jones,who was killed the day before[grave ref VIA.A.2.]

you need to be sure in your own mind if it is his grave and not take my word for it.

mack ;D

My goodness Mack, that would be incredible if that is correct. Please can you give me any more details about how you came to that conclusion, and why he would have been buried at Poelcapelle which is quite far away from his posting when he died.

Any idea which company Kendrick was in?

Thanks,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on May 27, 2015, 11:52:02 AM
hiya steve.
poelcapelle was used for the concentration of graves from that area,from 1st December till 31st December,only seven 2/Lts were killed or died of wounds from all the Manchester battalions.

heres the list
john,yeardley Wilkinson
Samuel,benjamin yates
both buried Bethune town cemetery

Charles,w gray
buried st.julien dressing station

john Rowley
Kendrick yorke-jones
both buried poelcapelle british cemetery

Philip ward and john Houghton are unaccounted for,2/Lt Houghton was killed nearly two weeks before 2/Lt ward near Jericho with the 18th manchesters,the fact that the unknown 2/Lt is buried in the same row as 2/Lt yorke-jones and only a few graves away,suggests that both were disinterred from the same location.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 27, 2015, 12:26:21 PM
Wow, is there any way that this can be verified/proved??
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on May 27, 2015, 12:41:28 PM
Wow, is there any way that this can be verified/proved??
sadly the CWGC wont do anything about it steve,once a soldier is buried,its very very rare that the CWGC will allow a disinterment.

theres another query about Philip,you mention that he was recommended for the MC but it wasn't awarded because they don't award them posthumously,can I ask where the posthumous bit came from

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 27, 2015, 01:03:21 PM
Ok, I had a feeling that would be the case with CWGC, shame but understandable. Do you have any record of what is written on the grave stone please?

Regarding MCs not being awarded posthumously, I really can't remember where I got that from, but I remember that it said that posthumous awarding was a result of a change in the rules towards the end of the 20th century. This Wikipedia ('wrongipedia'??) page alludes to it in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Cross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Cross) on the 3rd bullet point of Notable Awards. I guess from your question that I might have got the wrong end of the stick...

Cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on May 27, 2015, 01:22:04 PM
hiya steve
I haven't seen the headstone so I cant help with that,sorry

awards.
if a soldier is killed or dies of wounds during the action on or around the date of the engagement,he doesn't qualify,but Philips recommendation was for an action two weeks previous,you will on occasion see an award referred to as posthumous,this means the soldier has died since the recommendation

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on May 27, 2015, 01:36:54 PM
hiya steve
there is one thing you could try,ask the CWGC for the original map co-ordinates for the men reinterred in VIA.A.graves 1 to 10.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on May 27, 2015, 01:40:17 PM
Many thanks Mack. I will be going to Ypres on my way home from Bangkok this summer, I will now certainly visit Poelcapelle as well as Tyne Cot. Wow, I am still bowled over by your news. Amazing!

Cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 13, 2015, 04:06:35 AM
Just received articles from the wonderful Leigh Local Studies, Wigan Council. In Philips's Memorial Service a letter from Major Colley was read, which included,

"...Your son was killed in the morning of the 27th in the support line, while he was [passing] rum to his men. A trench mortar killed him instantaneously, and he suffered no pain. He was buried at company headquarters and everything possible was done."

This certainly confirms that Philip's body was recovered and buried, and could well have been moved with the others to Poelcapelle. I can't wait to get out there to have a good look-see!

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOveUlpSGRyRkk1VHlYWGhTLTY2aktFbmVUbXpV&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOveUlpSGRyRkk1VHlYWGhTLTY2aktFbmVUbXpV&authuser=1)
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvMHJnRlJxWnJyT1BMUDF0bkcxRG5SVEpkTmNR&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvMHJnRlJxWnJyT1BMUDF0bkcxRG5SVEpkTmNR&authuser=1)
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sMzjbzMDTACLtbIkTR9r9pYtKsgx9NOPauTpYXoqryk/edit?usp=sharing (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sMzjbzMDTACLtbIkTR9r9pYtKsgx9NOPauTpYXoqryk/edit?usp=sharing) (transcript)
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: Tim Bell on June 13, 2015, 03:21:50 PM
Great work Steve,
This is incredible detail.  It would be wonderful if you do find certainty of his grave.
T
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on June 13, 2015, 07:48:01 PM
the closest thing to certainty,is to find out where the body of the unknown officer was exhumed from,the CWGC should have the map reference,if it matches up with the location of company HQ,you should have a good argument that it is Philips grave.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 15, 2015, 06:04:10 AM
the closest thing to certainty,is to find out where the body of the unknown officer was exhumed from,the CWGC should have the map reference,if it matches up with the location of company HQ,you should have a good argument that it is Philips grave.

mack ;D

Thanks Mack. I have indeed written to CWGC in Ypres, and faxed a copy of the letter to CWGC Head Office (no email addresses on their website). We'll see what they come up with. To say I'm on tenterhooks is bit of an understatement!

cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 15, 2015, 04:13:08 PM
I have just received an email from CWGC. It looks very much like it isn't Philip in the grave of the unknown 2nd Lt at Poelcapelle as he was exhumed some distance away from 2nd Lt Yorke-Jones. I have to say I am extremely impressed by how quickly the CWGC responded to my fax, and in such detail. Astonishing. They are good people. Below is a link to the message I received.  

Thank you Mack, at least this one is put to rest.

Best wishes to all.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1)
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 16, 2015, 08:46:44 AM
I have just received an email from CWGC. It looks very much like it isn't Philip in the grave of the unknown 2nd Lt at Poelcapelle as he was exhumed some distance away from 2nd Lt Yorke-Jones. I have to say I am extremely impressed by how quickly the CWGC responded to my fax, and in such detail. Astonishing. They are good people. Below is a link to the message I received.  

Thank you Mack, at least this one is put to rest.

Best wishes to all.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1)

Interesting, I have now checked the map ref for the original burial of the unknown soldier. He was buried very close to the entrance of Perth Avenue, the RVP described in Bn Orders of 24/12/1917. Please can anyone tell me if the Manchesters uniform included a round red shoulder patch as described in the burial return for the unknown 2nd Lt?
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sphinx on June 16, 2015, 02:22:16 PM
Steve,

Close.

It was a circle, 2" in diameter, horizontally bisected white above red.

regards
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on June 16, 2015, 06:39:34 PM
I have just received an email from CWGC. It looks very much like it isn't Philip in the grave of the unknown 2nd Lt at Poelcapelle as he was exhumed some distance away from 2nd Lt Yorke-Jones. I have to say I am extremely impressed by how quickly the CWGC responded to my fax, and in such detail. Astonishing. They are good people. Below is a link to the message I received.  

Thank you Mack, at least this one is put to rest.

Best wishes to all.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1)

Interesting, I have now checked the map ref for the original burial of the unknown soldier. He was buried very close to the entrance of Perth Avenue, the RVP described in Bn Orders of 24/12/1917. Please can anyone tell me if the Manchesters uniform included a round red shoulder patch as described in the burial return for the unknown 2nd Lt?
York-jones and Philip were killed in separate place,but the unknown officer was killed in the same locality,grid reference J.20 and J.32 are not that far away from each other,if you have the trench map,post it on here,roy is pretty good with maps,he may be able to help,the CWGC said that the unknown officer could be any one of over 800 2/Lts killed,theres no way that over 800 2/Lts were killed in that specific location.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 17, 2015, 03:47:32 AM
Steve,

Close.

It was a circle, 2" in diameter, horizontally bisected white above red.

regards

Interesting, I wonder what colour the white might have turned after a year in the mud...

Thanks Sphinx
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 17, 2015, 03:55:26 AM
I have just received an email from CWGC. It looks very much like it isn't Philip in the grave of the unknown 2nd Lt at Poelcapelle as he was exhumed some distance away from 2nd Lt Yorke-Jones. I have to say I am extremely impressed by how quickly the CWGC responded to my fax, and in such detail. Astonishing. They are good people. Below is a link to the message I received.  

Thank you Mack, at least this one is put to rest.

Best wishes to all.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1 (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9W1GN6EBoOvUlRVM183TWRQT1k&authuser=1)

Interesting, I have now checked the map ref for the original burial of the unknown soldier. He was buried very close to the entrance of Perth Avenue, the RVP described in Bn Orders of 24/12/1917. Please can anyone tell me if the Manchesters uniform included a round red shoulder patch as described in the burial return for the unknown 2nd Lt?
York-jones and Philip were killed in separate place,but the unknown officer was killed in the same locality,grid reference J.20 and J.32 are not that far away from each other,if you have the trench map,post it on here,roy is pretty good with maps,he may be able to help,the CWGC said that the unknown officer could be any one of over 800 2/Lts killed,theres no way that over 800 2/Lts were killed in that specific location.

mack ;D

Thanks Mack. Here is a the map square in question. Interesting news re the red shoulder patch.

One thing I have realised which has put another dampener on things is that the burial return puts the Unknown Lt as 6' tall. Philip's medical record records his height as 5'8''. Not sure if his injuries and a year in the mud would cause him to gain 4 inches...
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on June 17, 2015, 12:15:25 PM
the difference in height is too much,it looks like its not 2/Lt ward in that grave,thats a great shame,but at least you gave it your best shot steve.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 17, 2015, 02:56:50 PM
My goodness. I have just compared the Burial Returns with what was said in the email from CWGC. It looks very much like the guy I have been corresponding with got his map refs muddled. If you look at the table I have attached, it looks like 2nd Lt. Yorke-Jones and the Unknown 2nd Lt were buried VERY close together!

I fully take on board Mack's comment about height, but I do wonder what state the body would have been after the trench mortar explosion and 5 year's interment. I know that all we have is circumstantial, but with the close location to the last known posting, the proximity of the brother officer and similar patches to those worn by the Manchesters, I feel we are building a reasonable case for 'adopting' a grave.

What a week this has been. Sorry this has been a bit piecemeal, but I am really snatching moments to investigate, follow up and report.

I will keep you posted. I will certainly be visiting Poelcapelle when I am in Ypres next month.
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on June 17, 2015, 03:32:16 PM
hiya steve
I,me guessing you have Philips service record,what unit was he with before he was posted to the 17th battalion.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 17, 2015, 05:23:56 PM
hiya steve
I,me guessing you have Philips service record,what unit was he with before he was posted to the 17th battalion.

mack ;D

He came straight from OTB No 7 at Fermoy, Co. Cork. He joined the Bn at Chateau Segard in June 1917. any reason you ask?

Cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: mack on June 18, 2015, 07:55:45 AM
I was hoping you would have said 2/6th manchesters,they wore a red circular patch on their shoulder,roy found this out yesterday.

mack ;D
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 20, 2015, 08:02:00 AM
I was hoping you would have said 2/6th manchesters,they wore a red circular patch on their shoulder,roy found this out yesterday.

mack ;D

Unfortunately I don't actually have his service card in the documents from the National Archive. I have written to them again to see what else they have as I know Paul Foster who is working with the Last Post Assoc in Ypres was able to get 11 more documents than I received.

I have been in daily correspondence with CWGC this week, who I have to say have been extremely helpful. Below is a summary of what I have found out so far. As yet I haven't discussed with CWGC that the grid ref for the unknown 2nd Lt differs from what is written on the original grave return.

What I now know

24th December 1917, 17th Bn moved to the line, meeting guides at the entrance to Perth Avenue (approx grid ref. 28 J 20 d 5 9). Source - Bn. War Diary
Philip was killed by a trench mortar whilst passing rum to his men in the service trench on the morning of December 27th. Source - Letter from Maj. Colley, published in a Leigh newspaper January 11th 1918
Philip’s body was recovered and buried behind Company HQ and “everything possible was done.” Source - Letter from Commanding Officer, Maj. Colley, published in a Leigh newspaper January 8th 1918
Brother officer, 2nd Lt Yorke-Jones was killed in action on December 26th, and buried at 28.J.20.b.50.51 (‘b’ is struck through in pencil). Sources - Bn. War Diary, Manchester Regt Forum & CWGC Burial Return
Pte. R. C. Silley was also killed in action on December 26th, and buried at 28.J.20.b.50.52. Sources - Bn. War Diary & CWGC Burial Return
Unknown British 2nd Lt was buried at 28.J.20.b.8.4 Source - CWGC Grave Return

In map square 28 J 20, 260 bodies of British soldiers were recovered and concentrated. Source - CWGC Grave Return
In map square 28 J 20 b, 42 unknown British casualties were concentrated, only one was identifiable as a 2nd Lt. Source - CWGC Grave Return
The unidentified British 2nd Lt was roughly Philip’s height, and wore a round red shoulder patch similar to the red and white patch worn by the Manchesters. Sources - CWGC Grave Return & Manchester Regt Forum
2nd Lt K. Yorke-Jones, Pte. R.C. Silley & Unknown British 2nd Lt were concentrated to Poelcapelle Cemetery Plot VIA A. Sources - CWGC Grave Return & Manchester Regt Forum
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 25, 2015, 01:10:53 AM
Dear all,

Good news! Those of you who have been following this story will be pleased to learn that Philip's case has now been referred to the Commemorations Team of the CWGC for a decision as to whether or not we have enough information to warrant 'adjudication'. Unfortunately the person who will be reviewing the case and making the recommendation has just gone on 2 weeks holiday. I will let you know what the Commission decides as soon as I hear from them. Patience patience...
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: charlie on June 25, 2015, 08:08:37 AM
Steve, thats really good news and a step in the right direction. Fingers crossed :)
Charlie
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 25, 2015, 09:09:18 AM
Steve, thats really good news and a step in the right direction. Fingers crossed :)
Charlie

Fingers and toes! Thanks Charlie
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: Pete Th on June 25, 2015, 01:54:49 PM
Steve, that is brilliant news. We'll all be crossing our fingers for you.

Best of luck
Pete
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 25, 2015, 04:38:50 PM
Steve, that is brilliant news. We'll all be crossing our fingers for you.

Best of luck
Pete
Many thanks Pete
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on June 28, 2015, 01:49:35 PM
FYI I have now updated my website with a new page telling the story of how, with the help of this forum, I am trying to find Philip's grave. Feel free to have a look :)

bit.ly/ltPWard-grave (http://bit.ly/ltPWard-grave)

Thank you everyone.
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: Pete Th on June 28, 2015, 08:07:20 PM
Steve, marvellous, well done. I've been on a similar quest:

http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php?topic=3188.0

Best of luck
Pete
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on July 01, 2015, 02:33:32 AM
Steve, marvellous, well done. I've been on a similar quest:

http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php?topic=3188.0

Best of luck
Pete

Wow! Pete, I love what you have done, brilliant. So glad you sent me the link, you have given me some ideas for when I visit Ypres next week.

Cheers,
Steve
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: harribobs on July 10, 2015, 12:30:29 AM
Blimey.... ;D let's get this over to the great war section, superb work folks!!!
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: PhilipG on July 10, 2015, 11:20:28 PM
Steve,

May I echo the remarks made by Mack regarding the website you have constructed in memory of this officer. Very impressive.

(Should you decide to visit Poelcapelle British Cemetery, you might like to pay tribute to Private John Condon, KIA with the 2nd Bn. R.Irish R. on 24th May 1915 at the age of 14. He is the "youngest known battle casualty of the Great War".  He is buried in grave LVl.F.8. which is located at the southern end of the cemetery.  Lastly, Poelcapelle has an impressive memorial to the French Air Ace - Capitaine Georges Guynemer who was KIA on the 11th September 1917.  I doubt you will miss its crossroads location! ).
PhilipG.
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: sward888 on July 21, 2015, 10:56:29 PM
Update

Last week I was able to find the spot where the unknown 2nd Lt was initially buried, and to visit his grave at Poelcapelle. On my return from this visit I was greeted by the disappointing news that the CWGC doesn't believe there is enough evidence to warrant investigation. It's a shame, and I can't pretend I am not disappointed, but I am now considering the grave 'adopted'. I have posted a few photos and the full text of the email from CWGC.

http://bit.ly/ltPWard-grave (http://bit.ly/ltPWard-grave)

Thank you all for your support and encouragement.
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: charlie on July 22, 2015, 01:18:52 PM
Thats disappointing news. Despite what the CWGC say, if you are happy in your own mind that he is buried there I think it is a good result for you.
Charlie
Title: Re: 2nd Lt. Philip Ward 17th Battalion "C" Company
Post by: Tim Bell on July 23, 2015, 08:41:21 AM
It seems to be a sensible, measured response from CWGC, but dissappointing result. It makes sense that we put faith in the investigations in the 1920s, although there seems to be a process of elimination that Steve &  Mack has adopted that couldn't have been so apparent at that time. Wishful thinking?
Tim