b. 10/07/1877 Leeds, Yorkshire. d. 30/12/1921 Bridgend, Wales.
Charles Burley Ward (1877-1921) was born on the 10th July 1877 at 5 Tulip Street, Hunslet, near Leeds, West Yorkshire, the son of Mr George Ward. He was educated at Primrose Hill School in Leeds, and on 29th April 1897, he enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire Light Infantry (the old 51st Regiment of Foot), and served with this battalion for two years, joining the 2nd Battalion whilst in Wynberg, Cape Colony, South Africa at the beginning of the Second Boer War.
Due to the wounds he would receive in his Victoria Cross action, Charles only received two clasps to his Queen’s South Africa Medal for Cape Colony and Free State. His Victoria Cross action was gazetted in the London Gazette on 28th September 1900 and described his gallantry three months previously at Lindley, Cape Colony.
On the 26th June, 1900, at Lindley, a picquet of the Yorkshire Light Infantry was surrounded on three sides by about 500 Boers, at close quarters. The two Officers were wounded and all but six of their men were killed or wounded. Private Ward then volunteered to take a message asking for reinforcements to the Signalling Station about 150 yards in the rear of the post. His offer was at first refused owing to the practical certainty of his being shot; but, on his insisting, he was allowed to go. He got across untouched through a storm of shots from each flank, and, having delivered his message, he voluntarily returned from a place of absolute safety, and re-crossed the fire-swept ground to assure his Commanding Officer that the message had been sent. On this occasion he was severely wounded. But for this gallant action the post would certainly have been captured.
Ward’s wounds were so severe that he was invalided back to England, where he was the last man to be invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria on 15th December 1900 at Windsor Castle. Ward was forced to be discharged from the Army as medically unfit, and he was presented with a testimonial and £600 by the people of Leeds. He was also presented with a commemorative medal in gold by Mr William Owen.
Charles’ later life was tragic. He moved to live in South Wales, but was deeply troubled by his experiences in South Africa, and by the early 1920s, he had been admitted as an in-patient into the Glamorgan County Asylum in Bridgend. Sadly, he died in the asylum aged just 44 on the 30th December 1921. He was buried on the 2nd January 1922 in St Mary’s Churchyard, Whitchurch, near Cardiff. His grave is marked with a new headstone in 1986. His medals are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARY'S CHURCHYARD, CARDIFF, WALES. SECTION B, ROW 2 GRAVE 8/4.
Leeds VC Memorial
Courtesy of Lyndon Davies