Alfred Edmund WARD


WARD, Alfred Edmund

Service Numbers: 4547, 422
Enlisted: 16 December 1915, Served with the South African Contingent.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 19th Infantry Battalion
Born: Warialda, New South Wales, Australia, July 1885
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Cleveland St School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Rough Rider, Horse Trainer & Circus performer
Died: Influenza and Pneumonia, Valemont, Springvale, Darwen, Lancashire (private residence), United Kingdom, 1 December 1918
Cemetery: Darwen Cemetery
Row I, Grave 3565
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

16 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4547, 19th Infantry Battalion, Served with the South African Contingent.
9 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4547, 19th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
9 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4547, 19th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Nestor, Sydney

Boer War Service

Date unknown: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 422, NSW Imperial Bushmen

World War 1 Service

Date unknown: Involvement 19th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

(Ernest)Alfred Edmund Ward

Alfred Edmund Ward (Ernest) was born in Wallangra near Warialda, New South Wales, Australia in June 1877. His parents were John and Henrietta Ward. Warialda (aboriginal for ‘place of wild honey’) is a small rural town on the northern edge of NSW bordering Queensland. Warialda is only 25 miles from a place called Myall Creek which is synonymous with an aboriginal massacre which happened at a sheep station in the 1830s as land was taken by European white settlers.

Although he was born near Warialda it is doubtful he spent much time growing up here as he is documented as attending school at Cleveland Street Public School, Sydney. This school is in the suburb of Surry Hills where he resided at a boarding house belonging to Mrs Evelyn McCullough of 130 Devonshire Street.

Devonshire Street, Sydney was the site of the old cemetery where early pioneers and convicts were buried. In 1901 the headstones were relocated for the expansion of Sydney Central Railway Station. Ernest worked as a labourer at this time and it is possible he worked on the expansion of the Central Railway Station.

During the Boer War Ernest served with the NSW Imperial Bushmen Unit and must have been around 23 years old when he enlisted. The NSW Imperial Bushmen Unit served from May 1900 until 11th June, 1901. The only record for an Alfred Edmund from Warialda is as follows (although his birth certificate has his name as Ernest Edward Thomas Ward).

Boer War Nominal Roll - Alfred Edmund Thomas Ward
Service number: 422
Rank: Private
Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
State: NSW
Source: Murray page number – 93

In the NSW Imperial Bushmen camp, South Africa, 1900
He stayed on in South Africa and worked as a Trick Rough Rider in Texas Jack’s Wild West Show at Fillis’ Circus. In his military records from WW1 it states that he worked in a circus as a ‘rough-rider, cowboy’ and states ‘he is believed to be one of the smartest at these performances‘. He toured with the circus both within the Commonwealth and South Africa.

His horsemanship must have enabled him to become an effective soldier in the war.
He continued in the circus on his return to Australia but must have settled back into life at Surry Hills, Sydney because in 1907 his Boer War Medals were sent to Sydney.

When Ernest enlisted in the AIF he gave his age as 30 years old, he would have been 39 years old. At Devonshire Street Ernest shared lodgings with William James Harpur (Jacky), a shearer who had worked on the Queensland Border not far from Warialda. Jacky Harpur joined the same Battalion 19th Bn, 11th Reinforcement and although they enlisted on separate days, they both sailed from Sydney on the HMAT Nestor (Liverpool) on 9th April 1916.

William James Harpur was killed in Flers, France as he was hit by a shell, he was killed instantly along with a comrade.
Ernest continued with the 19th Bn until 1918 when he was granted leave whilst serving in France. He decided to visit family in England and stay with his cousin J H Leech. It was whilst he was on leave in Darwen that he succumbed to influenza pneumonia and died at Vale Mount House, Spring Vale (the home of his cousin J H Leech) on 1st December 1918.

He was accorded a full Military Funeral with a firing party, bugler and pall bearers. His age at death is given as 33 years old on his headstone but he must have been aged 42 years.
With no apparent relatives in Australia his landlady Mrs Evelyn McCullough commissioned his grave in Darwen. In his WW1 soldier’s Will Ernest left everything to his landlady and his kitbag contents were sent to her after his death. Mrs E McCullough died May 28, 1938 aged 72 years and her children are listed as Harold, Alma, Gladys and Dorothy (there was no mention of a husband in the records).

In fact Ernest had a brother Robert born in Rockhampton and who was living at Marada, Stonehenge, Queensland after the war and from where he claimed Ernest’s WW1 medals, death plaque and memorial scrolls.
So what was Ernest really called?

Birth certificate – Ernest Edward Thomas Ward
Trace our Anzac’s website – Alfred Edmund Thomas Ward
Death registered as Alfred Ernest Ward (aged 42)

If anyone has any further information on A E Ward please send to [email protected]
Nicola Jackson
Malabar, NSW
Updated December 2010

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

The summary below was completed by Cathy Sedgwick – Facebook “WW1 Australian War Graves in England/UK

Died on this date – 1st December..... Private Alfred Edmund Ward was born near Warialda, NSW (unable to find birth details). He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) on 6th December, 1915 stating he was a 30 year old, single, Labourer from Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW (information from the Roll of Honour states he was a Horse Trainer & Circus performer)

Private Alfred Edmund Ward embarked from Sydney on HMAT Nestor (A71) on 9th April, 1916 with the 5th Infantry Brigade, 19th Infantry Battalion, 11th Reinforcements. He disembarked at Plymouth, England on 7th June, 1916 for further training in England before being sent to the Front.

Private Alfred Edmund Ward proceeded overseas for France on 5th September, 1916 & joined 19th Battalion in France on 20th September, 1916.

Private Ward was sent to Lewis Gun School on 2nd December, 1916 & sent sick to Hospital on 8th December at Etaples, France. He rejoined his Battalion on 26th January, 1917 having spent time at Convalescent Depots.

Private Ward was on leave to England from 29th August, 1917 & rejoined from leave on 11th September, 1917.
Private Ward was reported as being with his Unit in Belgium on 18th February, 1918.

Private Ward was on leave to UK from 18th October, 1918.

Private Alfred Edmund Ward died at 9.00 am on 1st December, 1918 at Valemont, Springvale, Darwen, Lancashire (private residence) from Influenza & Pneumonia. Private Ward had died at the home of his cousin – Mr J. H. Leach, while on leave from France.
Private Alfred Edmund Ward was buried in Darwen Cemetery, Darwen, Lancashire, England. He was accorded a full Military Funeral with several cousins attending the Funeral.

(The above is a summary of my research. The full research can be found by following the link below)