Joseph Henry Ward, known as ‘Joe’, was born and raised in Springfield, the son of one of the partners in a well-known Chelmsford painting and decorating firms. During the war he served in the army and was killed in action near Monchy-le-Preux in November 1917. His home was in Springfield Road.


Private, 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment

Joe was born in Springfield in 1898, the son of Joseph Ward and Alice Kate Ward (formerly Crofts, nee Hawkins). His father had been born in 1850 in Great Waltham; his mother c1862 in Fingringhoe.

The couple had married at St. Marylebone in London on 24th September 1893. At the time Joe’s father was a 43 year-old widowed house painter resident in Springfield. His bride was also widowed, aged 32, and lived at 144 Marylebone Road, London.

Joe’s father went into partnership with his mother-in-law after the death of his future father-in-law in 1882. Their firm, Messrs. Hawkins and Ward were, plumbers and decorators. Joe’s father had been manager until taken on as a partner.

Joe’s eight siblings, all Springfield-born,

included Mary Agatha Ward (born in 1894), Norah Ellen Ward (born on 10th July 1896, baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 1st August 1896 and died in 1950), George Haddon Ward (born on 27th June 1900 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 20th June 1903), John Hawkins Ward (born on 18th January 1902, baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 20th June 1903 and died in 1970), Kathleen Ward (born on 15th November 1903, baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 10th January 1904 and died in 1996), Henry Septimus Ward (born 12th April 1905 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 15th June 1905), and Charles William Ward (born and died i 1906). An eighth child also died in infancy.

The 1901 census listed two year-old Joe living with his parents, three siblings and a servant in an unnumbered house in Springfield Road, Springfield. His father was a master painter. Five years later the partnershop of Hawkins and Ward ceased, shortly before the death of Joe’s maternal grandmother Hannah Mary Hawkins.

A decade later the 1911 census recorded 12 year-old Joe living with his parents, six siblings and a servant at 24 Springfield Road, Springfield, two doors down from the Two Brewers pub. His father was a plumber and decorator.

Joe enlisted into the army at Chelmsford. He was killed in action by a machine gun bullet to the head, while mending some barbed wire on 14th November 1917 while serving as Private 250524 in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He was aged 19.

On 23rd November 1917 the Essex Weekly News carried a family announcement revealing Joe’s death:

“Ward. - Nov. 14th, killed in France, Pte. Joseph H. Ward, dearly loved son of Mr. and Mrs. Ward, 24, Springfield-rd., Chelmsford, aged 19 years.”

The same day’s Essex County Chronicle reported:

“Pt. Joseph Henry Ward, Essex Regt., killed in action in France, was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ward, of Messrs. Hawkins and Ward, Springfield Road, Chelmsford. The deceased was a bright and very popular lad, only 19 years of age. He was killed instantly on Wednesday in last week, being hit in the head by a machine-gun bullet as he was mending some wire.

Working by his side was Pt. Fred. Porter, of Chelmsford, nephew of Mr. Saltmarsh, builder, of Chelmsford, and he escaped unhurt. Ward only went out to the Front in September. He was buried by the Padre in the military cemetery near where he was killed.”

A week later the Essex Weekly News carried the following report:

“Pte. Joseph H. Ward, Essex Regt., eldest son of Mr. and Mrs, Joseph Ward, Springfield-rd., Chelmsford, has been killed in action at the age of 19. While engaged in mending some wire he was hit in the head by a machine gun bullet and killed instantly.

At the time another Chelmsford man Pte. Fred. Porter, was working by his side, but he escaped injury. Pte. Ward went to the Front in September.”

He is buried at Windmill British Cemetery, Monchy-Le-Preux, Pas de Calais in France (grave: I. F. 19).

Joe is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The 1918 register of electors listed Joe’s parents remaining at 24 Springfield Road (later renumbered as 76). Joe’s father died on New Year’s Day1929, aged 78. His mother died in 1944, aged 83, at Brambleside Nursing Home in Galleywood..