Sergeant, Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts
Quartermaster Sergeant, Corps of Cattle Rangers – Anglo Boer War
- Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Transvaal & South Africa 1901 to 1189 Serjt. G.W. Ward, Kitchener’s F.S.
George Ward was born in Leicestershire on 24 May 1876 the son of Charles Ward, a Ticket Collector by occupation, and his wife Annie. He was baptised in the Parish of St Barnabas, Middlesex (whence the family had moved) on 1 July 1881.
At the time of the England census of 1881 Ward was a 4 year old in his parent’s house at 9 River Street, Islington. The only other occupant was his sister Bertha Caroline, aged 11. The 1891 England census rolled round ten years later to find that the Ward family had moved to 59 Harrington Street in Croydon. That wasn’t the only change facing the 15 year old Ward – he was, at that young age, already employed as a Telegraph Clerk whilst his father was now a Photographer by trade. Bertha had flown the coop and Mrs Ward had added John Edward (4) to the family. Visiting the Ward home was Mr Ward’s nephew, Matthew Peach Ward, a 17 year old Railway Porter. It was unusual, in the Victorian era, for so many years to separate the children – one can only suppose that fertility was an issue.
Opportunities for the working-class youth in Victorian England were few and it was not uncommon for at least one of the family to seek employment elsewhere in the expanding colonies that formed the British Empire. South Africa was one of these and it was to that sunny climate that Ward bent himself. Quite when this was is unknown but it would have been shortly before the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War in October 1899.
This war, between the two Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal and Great Britain, had been brewing for quite some time and, having erupted onto the world stage, the meagre British forces in South Africa found it heavy going – so much so that a call went out to colonial structures to form regiments to aid in the fight. Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts was one of these.
This corps was raised in December 1900, being recruited in Cape Colony and Natal taking to the field as soon as they could be mounted.
Ward completed the attestation papers for admission at Durban on 14 January 1901 and was assigned no. 1185 and the rank of Sergeant. The Description of Recruit stated that he was 23 years of age with a fresh complexion, light brown hair and gray eyes. He had no marks about is person and provided his next of kin as his brother.
From the very start of his life with K.F.S. Ward was employed as the Recruiting Sergeant for the regiment based at the Point in Durban. He took his discharge at Pretoria on 20 May 1901 and it wasn’t long before he moved on to his next military adventure – that of a Ranger with the little-known Corps of Cattle Rangers. On 21 July 1901 at Pretoria he completed the Engagement Form agreeing to accept service in the Corps on the following conditions:
1. Engagement to be for such period as my services may be required.
2. Pay to be 6/- per day with free rations, on same scale as men of the regular forces.
3. A rifle, bandolier, and necessary ammunition to be provided by Military.
4. A horse, when necessary, to be provided by the Military from mares or other captured horses not required by the Remount Department.
5. I will provide my own saddle and bridle, and also my clothing and any other necessary equipment
6. When employed in the safe conduct of stock from one place to another which is distant more than twenty miles, the party so conducting will be entitled to a bonus of 7 ½ per cent. on the slaughter value of the stock, subject to a deduction of a similar percentage on the value of any stock lost through death or otherwise on the march, and also subject to the provisions of the following clause:-
7. The bonus, as per clause 6, shall be payable at the end of each month, but in case any section or sections have lost through capture by the enemy during the period, any such bonus which would otherwise be due shall be forfeited by them.
8. I understand that during the terms of this engagement, I am subject to Military Law in all respects, and I hereby promise to obey those put in authority over me.
9. I declare that I can both ride and shoot.
The conditions agreed to above provide the context in which a Ranger operated – he was required to marshal cattle captured from the Boers to safety behind friendly lines. This task, easy though it sounded, was fraught with danger as the Boers were, understandably, very keen if not anxious to reclaim livestock captured from them – their very survival dependant on it – and would attack the Corps sections in order to effect the release of their cattle.
On this occasion Ward divulged that his next of kin was his sister, Bertha, who had married a Finnigan and was resident, in 1901, at 90 Farmworth Road, Croydon. With the C of C.R. Ward spent four months before their disbandment as a unit on 5 November 1901 mustered as a Quartermaster Sergeant.
For his efforts with both Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts as well as the Corps of Cattle Rangers Ward was awarded the Queens Medal with Transvaal and South Africa 1901 clasps.
Post-war he appears to have moved to Cape Town where, at the age of 66, he passed away at Groot Schuur Hospital on 6 April 1943. At the time he was a retired Shipping Clerk. The cause of death was Carcinoma of the Tongue with secondaries and his address was 13 Warren Street, Observatory, Cape Town.
The following user(s) said Thank You: djb, QSAMIKE
It was in large measure thanks to you David that I was able to progress with research into Ward.
The CoCR attestation paper you uncovered led me to his sisters England 1901 census entry (90 Farmworth Road, Croydon) from where, once I had found her, I was able to trace her previous census entries for 1881 and 1891 which led me to George William.