Monthly Archives: December 2016

RBL Somme 100 Lapel Pin – Pte. 22851 G F Ward

RBL Somme 100 Lapel Pin – Pte. 22851 G F Ward

box-coverEarlier this year I toyed with the idea of buying a Somme 100 lapel pin – you know the one. Anyway, for those of you who have not seen the promotions on various web and media sites, each pin, according to the RBL shop  is ‘made from British shell fuses fired during the Battle of the Somme and collected from the historic front line. The stunning red enamel in the centre of each poppy is made from a small amount of finely ground earth that was collected from Gommecourt, Hebuterne, Serre, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval, Ovillers, La Boisselle, Fricourt and Mametz, and red enamel mixed together to create the iconic red colour.’


© Carol Sklinar Dec 2016

Not only is each pin made from shell fuses fired 100 years ago, each pin remembers a soldier who lost his life during this battle.

When I stopped thinking about getting one for me and another for my friends birthday pressie there were none left.  Disapointed not only for myself but saddened that I could not get one for my friends birthday gift – alternate plan soon sorted the gift out.

In mid-December more promotional information started filtering through about the lapel pins. This time not to be outdone, I went online and bought two pins – my next problem was would they be here in time.  Two days later a large box arrived at work and they were worth the wait.

As I have said, and you probably know, each pin remembers a soldier, my soldier is Pte. 22851, George Frederick Ward of the Suffolk Regiment.

George Frederick was the son of Robert Ward and his wife Ellen.  Robert was aged 27 in the 1891 census, born in Layham, working as a labourer and living in Hadleigh with Ellen and their two children at Parker’s Cottage. George was one year old at this time.

Robert Ward (1833-1912) &Emily Hynard (1838-1910) via J Ward

Robert Ward (1833-1912) & Emily Hynard (1838-1910) via Jeffrey Ward

There have been Ward’s in the Layham area for a very long time, with the manorial rolls including their names as early as the 1400’s and are regularly mentioned for the next 200 years.  In the 16th century the family were yeoman farmer according to some wills of the time.  In later years the family seem to have come down in the world a little.

George’s father, Robert, was the son of Robert (1833-1912) and Emily nee Hynard (1838-1910). The couple had 12 children. Robert snr., during the 1840’s worked in the Silk Mill at Hadleigh – Robert jnr., (1862-1927) also worked there.

Back to George, his parents and siblings, who are still at Parker’s Cottage in 1901. The family has now grown to include four more siblings for George.  Robert now works

Robert Ward (1833-1912) via Jeffrey Ward

Robert Ward (1833-1912) via Jeffrey Ward

as a horseman on a local farm, his eldest son Robert, yes another, aged 13 also works on a farm – probably the same farm.

Another 10 years in the life of the Ward family and 1911 has arrived.  What will that year bring to the country?  In January the Siege of Sydney Street takes place. March sees 11,000 workers at the Singer sewing machine factory go on strike.  RMS Titanic is launched in Belfast and across the water, RMS Olympic sails for Liverpool.  At the height of the hottest British summer on record, George V and Queen Mary are crowned. Later on in the year the Official Secrets Act 1911 came in to effect and Suffragettes storm the Houses of Parliament.  On April 2nd the census was again taken, differing from previous years census forms, more information is now requested – the number of years married and details of how many children to that marriage.

Back to George and his family in 1911. The information in the census now tells that Robert and Ellen Mary had been married for 24 years, Ellen giving birth to seven children (all still being alive in 1911), six of the children had been recorded as living with Robert and Ellen – Margaret who would now be around 18 was not with the family. The eldest four children were employed as farm labourers, jobbing gardener at a local market garden, a carpenters help and an errand boy at a local farm house. Home for the family was Hill Cottage, Layham. Robert while completing the form entered the number of years married and children details in the wrong row. He also went into detail about the rooms in the cottage.  Robert entered ‘two bedrooms one downstairs room’, the enumerator struck through that information and wrote ‘four’. By that added extra bit of information it is now known the size of property the Ward family of eight existed in.

1914 came around too quickly, men enlisted, men went away but not as many came home.

George served as 22851 in the 7th Btn. Suffolk Regiment, which has been raised in 1914 aspart of Kitchener’s First New Army, after enlisting in Ipswich and had been with his regiment on the northern edge of the Somme battlefields during July of 1916.  After being injured he was taken to 76th FA (Field Amblance) where Albert Victor Moth was taken and died on the same day as George.

Robert, George’s father, would have received his Victory and British Medals, along with monies owning to George from the Army. As the service records for George have not survived, the information, including a description of George, his postings etc., which would be fascinating, is sadly missed.

George Frederick Ward

George Frederick Ward via Jeffrey Ward

George Frederic Ward rests in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension along with over 1,330 other identified casualties from the Commonwealth and France including Albert Moth. The CWGC website tells ‘The first Commonwealth burial took place in the communal cemetery in October 1915 and the last on 1 July 1916. By that date, field ambulances had come to the village in readiness for the attack on the German front line eight kilometres away, and the cemetery extension was begun on the eastern side of the cemetery.

Although George rests peacefully in France he is

Layham War Memorial 2014 via Jeffrey Ward

Layham War Memorial 2014 via Jeffrey Ward

remembered on the Layham War Memorial, Suffolk, a few message boards, mailing lists and websites including Suffolk Roll of Honour.

The Ward family had been featured in the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury on 29th of March 1918 – all five of the male family eligible for military service had been or were on active duty.  Only George was killed in action. George’s brothers, Robert William, Henry Walter, Frank Bernard Jubilee Ward and brother-in-law, F Orvis saw service in France, Italy, Egypt and the Dardinelles. F Orvis was Francis G S Orvis who married Margaret Ward in the winter of 1914.


© Carol Sklinar Dec 2016

‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’

West Riding Police War Memorial

West Riding Police War Memorial

During the Great War West Riding Police Force went along with their daily working lives – patrolling the streets on foot, being a presence on the streets and dealing with the unsavoury side of life that arose. During this time they had the added an extra burden of vast numbers of soldiers, either stationed in the West Riding, on leave in the area, passing through on their way to postings or returning to the war. One task that became an everyday occurrence was being on the look out for soldiers overstaying leave, absconding – being AOL (Absent without leave).

The everyday lot of the local ‘Bobby’ was about to change for them and their families.

The police were exempt from enlisting for the early part of the war. This all changed in December 1915, when all members of the police force under 41 years of age (including Walter Siddle) attested and were placed n the reserve list under Lord Darley’s Scheme (World War 1). By March 1917, the goal posts were moved and all under 41 years of age were to be examined by the Army Medical Board.

West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

John Pinion Sleaford, West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

John Pinion Sleaford, West Riding Constabulary War Memorial © Carol Sklinar 2016

The memorial to the men of the West Riding Constabulary situated at Laburnum Road, Wakefield carries the names of over 60 men from WW1 and 26 names from WW2.

Of the 60+ names from the WW1 memorial one name stands out amongst the rest due to the unusual middle name – John Pinion Sleaford, now doesn’t that roll off the tongue?

John’s early years were spent in Lincolnshire. He was born in or around Walcot, Lincolnshire on the 24th May 1890 and baptised on the 26th of February 1899. The entry for John in the registers of St Michael’s Billinghay and St Oswald, Walcot show that his parents, Charles and Hephzibah Sleaford had four of their other children baptised on the same day. The entry also shows where John, his sister Sarah and brother Arthur came by their unusual middle name ‘Pinion’, Hephzibah’s maiden name was Pinion. Charles on this day gave his occupation as a cottager.

The 1901 census gives the details of Charles, his wife and nine children living at Fen Road, Walcot – Charles now classes himself as a farmer. Ten years later in 1911 census more information is given and it appears that John was one of 10 children, nine of which survived to be included in the census. Home for John, a 20 year old farm worker, and the rest of the family was Walcott Fen, Billinghay. Later working for James Franklin a local farmer.

John aged 21 left his native Lincolnshire and signed, on the 5th of January 1912, the Declaration to become a constable in the West Riding Police. Aged 21 years and 7 months, John was 5′ 9 ¼” tall, with a fresh complexion. He had dark brown hair and grey eyes, having no particular marks and stating that he was a single man. John also had to give a specimen of his handwriting.

John's handwriting from Police Records

John’s handwriting from Police Records

John Pinion Sleaford, warrant number 7785, was from November 1912 stationed in Staincross and by January of 1913 had advanced from third to a second-grade constable.

In the early summer of 1915, John returned to Lincolnshire to marry Ellen Blundy. Using both John’s and Ellen’s surnames in a search it seems that there were two children born – Leonard in Grantham, 1915 and Edith in Penistone, 1916.

John joined the Navy, becoming Stoker 2nd class, K 39557, serving on HMS Victory II from 10th January 1917 to February 7th of the same year (this could have been a shore base). From 7th February John was in the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire, which had been a naval hospital since the mid 1700’s and was the last to lose its military status in 2007.

Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire via Wikipedia

Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire via Wikipedia

John died on the same day of his admittance to HMH Haslar, the 7th of February, from pneumonia and heart failure and rests in the churchyard of his native village of Walcott near Billinghay. By this time Ellen was living at Hill Top, Clayton West.

Did Ellen remarry to give her two young children a father? Did Ellen move back home to Lincolnshire? Well, the 1939 Register answers both those questions. Still living at Hill Top, Ellen

CWGC headstone for John Pinion Sleaford © Lorna

CWGC headstone for John Pinion Sleaford © Lorna

can be found doing ‘unpaid domestic duties’, while Leonard works as a clayware labourer and Edith is a worsted spinner.

Leonard married Madge B Carter in the Hendon area. Edith, however, there are a couple of entries for a marriage that could be her, one in Bradford and the other in Sleaford……….so I will leave that one for others to sort out.

Ellen died in 1960 and it seems she did not tie the knot again.