Donald Hayward was born and brought up in Chelmsford, the son of a carpenter. He served in the army before the war and as a reservist was called up at its outbreak and went to France in September 1940. He married at Chelmsford Register Office in February 1940 and went back to France only to return before Dunkirk. After a period training soldiers he was sent to north Africa, arriving there in July 1943 before going on to serve in the Scily and Italian campaigns. He was fatally wounded in Italy in May 1944. By then he had become a fathe and his wife and daughter had moved to Horndon-on-the-Hill. His parents lived in Lynmouth Avenue, Chelmsford.
Donald HAYWARD, Lance Serjeant, 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment
Killed in Italy. Aged 35
Although both of Donald's parents were in Chelmsford in 1901, three years later when the couple married, they did so at St. Stephen's, Shepherd's Bush in Middlesex. At the time of the marriage (21st May 1904) Donald's father was a carpenter living in Chelmsford, while his bride was living at 104 Tunis Road in Shepherd's Bush.
The couple's first child, Edna Gertrude Hayward, was born in Highgate, Middlesex in 1906. By the time of her christening on 15th January 1908 at St. John's Church, Moulsham, the family were living at 23 Wolseley Road in Chelmsford. Donald was born the following year, and was followed by Olive Adelaide Hayward (1910-1975), Irene Hayward (1915-1979), and Leonard Henry Hayward (born in 1919). All three were christened at St. John's Church, Moulsham, and on each occasion their father was described as a carpenter, living at 23 Wolseley Road
In 1911 the census recorded two year-old Donald living with his parents and two sisters at 23 Wolseley Road.
In April 1926 Donald joined the army at Warley, apparently giving adding a year to his age to do so. He served with the Northamptonshire Regiment. He was briefly promoted to Lance Corporal in 1929 and was a Private the remainder of his service, which saw him overseas in Egypt and India in the early 1930s. Donald left the army, transferring to the Army Reserve in February 1934,
In 1929 Donald’s eldest sister, Edna, married Herbert Walter Haddock. Herbert’s brother was killed in the First World War and is commemorated by Chelmsford's Civic Centre War Memorial.
Donald became engaged to Woolwich-born Kathleen Elizabeth Oram (1917-2004) prior to the start of the Second World War in 1939. The couple had met on a train to Chelmsford where she was In service. Kathleen was initially wary of him because he was a soldier, but he was ‘chatty and persuasive’. She later described him as ‘the love of my life’.
As a reservist Donald was recalled to the army at the start of the war - he reported to the depot at Warley on 1st September 1939 and was mobilised the next day. War was declared the day after that.
Donald went to France on 28th September 1939 and returned home shortly before Dunkirk on 12th May 1940. He had, however, managed to return on leave in the intervening period to marry Kathleen on 8th February 1940 at Chelmsford Register Office.
Donald was promoted to Lance Corporal in October 1940, Acting Corporal twelve months later, and to Corporal in January 1942. He trained new recruits until sent at the last minute to north Africa, where he arrived on 12th July 1943, to replace an injured sergeant for the Italian invasion. Sicily was invaded from the 9th July 1943; the Italian mainland from 3rd September 1943.
In early 1944 Donald and Kathleen had a baby daughter and, with Donald overseas, Kathleen and her baby lived with her mother and step-father at Horndon-on-the-Hill.
In Italy Donald served as Lance Serjeant 5880523 in the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. Donald was reportedly wounded during the fighting and, turning down a place on the ambulance, began walking to the First Aid Station, when he was caught in shellfire and mortally wounded. Donald died from those wounds on 24th May 1944. He was 35 years old. At first he was reported as missing but confirmation of his death was announced in the Essex Chronicle on 18th August 1944. At that time Donald's parents were living at 40 Lynmouth Avenue, Chelmsford.
Today Donald lies in grave I. F. 1. at Beach Head War Cemetery in Anzio, on the coast 70 kilometres south of Rome. Burials at the cemetery were made direct from the battlefield after the landings at Anzio in January 1944 and later, after the army had moved forward, many graves were brought in from the surrounding country.
He left an estate valued at £105 9s 8d.
When confirmation of Donald's death came through Kathleen and the baby had been evacuated to Manchester and the news had to be relayed to her there. Kathleen later turned to housekeeping which eventually brought them back to Chelmsford. She died in 2004.
Donald Hayward was born in Chelmsford on 16th March 1909 (according to his christening record), the elder son of Henry Samuel Hayward (1879-1954) and Katie Emma Hayward (nee Boulter) (1876-1964). Donald was christened at St. John's Church, Moulsham on 5th June 1909. At the time Donald's father was a carpenter of 23 Wolseley Road in Chelmsford.
Donald's father had been born in Battersea, Surrey, but by 1891 he was living in Maldon where his father (Donald's grandfather) was a builder and undertaker. Both of Donald's paternal grandparents were Maldon-born.
By the time of the 1901 census Donald's father was lodging in New Street, Chelmsford and working as an carpenter - he is believed to have been apprenticed in the town. At the same time Donald's mother was also in Chelmsford, working as a servant to Edmund Pochin and his
family at Westbrook in Moulsham Street. Edmund's son, , then aged five, was to lose his life 15 years later at the Battle of the Somme, and is commemorated by Chelmsford's Civic Centre War Memorial.