Aubrey P Orde Ward (matriculated from Wadham 1904) commenced service in April 1916. He died after a military accident, after being hit by a low flying aeroplane, in late 1918.
During the War, he sent a series of letters to the Wadham college warden, Joseph Wells.
Original letters kindly supplied by Wadham College, Oxford. Read more about Wadham's experience of WW1.
20 April 1916 he writes from Hazeley Down Camp in Winchester.
“As soon as I had sufficiently recovered from my appendicitis I tried to enlist and after two rejections I was accepted, though not without difficulty, by the Westminsters… The change from civilian life rather astounds one at first, but I have been lucky in my hut mates – all good fellows…we rise at 5.45 and have 9 hours drill a day.”
17 October 1917, from France
“I am writing this in a concrete gun emplacement which we are using as Company HQ. Intermittent shelling - practically all by our guns – is going on and the men are nominally ‘standing to’ – time 11pm… I came out in the latter half of April. After leaving the trenches I went down with a sharp attack of trench fever and got down to a base hospital at Boulogne. When I re-joined I found my unit preparing for ‘pushing’... By some freak of fortune I was left out of the actual attack – for all specialist officers were left behind and I was practically, though not officially, Lewis Gun Officer… We are now facing a large town which the Boche is supposed to be on the point of abandoning.”
Aubrey Orde Ward's letter 17 August 1918 from the Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital, Dorset.
“I went down with bronchitis and fever after being 2 days in France and was shipped back to England after being something under 3 weeks out! I was lucky to get sent to this place which is everything that is charming.”
17 November 1918, a letter from Orde Ward's father thanking the Warden for his sympathetic letter sent on hearing the news of the accidental death of his son, hit by a low flying aeroplane.
“We feel simply…paralysed by such an unexpected blow. He was killed on Monday evening by a too low flying aeroplane which struck him on his forehead and killed him at once! He had not good eyesight, you may know, and he was walking with a friend after tea in the dusk, probably mapping out his future.”
Repurposed with kind permission of Wadham College, Oxford.