Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 1, 1900
Place of BirthFort William, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinThomas Ward (father), 902 First Street South,Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingStudent
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number2293722
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionLord Strathcona's Horse
ForceArmy
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentRegimental Depot, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 1, 1918
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 8, 1972
Age at Death71
Buried AtField of Honour, Queen's Park Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta
PlotLot 99, Block 3, Section P

Ward, Thomas Albert

Private Thomas Albert Ward signed up with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in February 1917, at age 16. He served with them in France and Belgium and returned to Canada in May 1919.

Thomas, sometimes known as Albert, was the oldest son of Thomas and Benjamina Elizabeth Ward of Kenora, Ontario. Thomas Sr. was from Birmingham, England and his wife was born in Caithness, Scotland. They were married in January 1896 in Port Arthur, Ontario and Thomas Albert was born in Fort William on 1 August 1900. He had eight brothers and sisters: Violet, Jessie, Ellen (who died as a baby), Benjamin, James, Isabelle, George and John Douglas. The family moved to Kenora around 1908 and the two youngest children were born there in 1910 and 1912. Thomas Sr. had a long career with the Canadian Pacific Railway, starting as a call boy then becoming a fireman and by 1900 an engineer.

On 1 August 1914 Thomas turned 14 years old and the war started three days later. An article in the Kenora Miner and News in January 1917 mentioned that he had just enlisted with the 141st Battalion. He was likely not accepted because of his age and a month later he went to Winnipeg where he joined a cavalry regiment, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). He lived at the regimental depot and trained with the Strathconas for nine months. On 1 January 1918 he officially enlisted with the regiment and five weeks later he was sent overseas as part of their 8th Draft. He embarked on the SS Grampian on 5 February and arrived in England on 16 February. He was taken on strength with Squadron of the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment and he trained with them for six months.

On 10 August 1918 Thomas was sent to France as a reinforcement for the Strathconas, joining them in the field in mid-September. The war lasted only eight more weeks and his regiment didn’t engage in any battles during that time. The Strathconas moved into Belgium two weeks after the Armistice and they spent the winter there. The troops returned to France in March 1919 and entrained for Le Havre on 14 April. Three days later they embarked for England on the Marguerite. Thomas returned to Canada with his regiment the following month, sailing on the SS Carmania and landing at Halifax on 29 May. He passed through Kenora by train on the night of 1 June and he was discharged on demobilization in Winnipeg the next day.

Thomas returned to Kenora after the war then later moved to Manitoba. He married 20-year-old Bessie Blair on 26 November 1930 in Winnipeg. Bessie was born in Dryden, Ontario where her father Dr. Henry Lewis Blair worked as a physician. After Dr. Blair’s death in 1920 Bessie’s mother Mary had married David Frejd and moved to Kenora.

After getting married Thomas and his wife spent some time living in BC before returning to Winnipeg, where he worked for many years as a shop foreman at Boulton Motors. By 1962 they had moved to Calgary and Thomas operated a service station there. Bessie died in Calgary in March 1967, at age 56, and she’s buried in Queen’s Park Cemetery. She was survived by Thomas, their son Donald and two grandchildren. Thomas passed away at Colonel Belcher Veterans Hospital on 8 April 1972, at age 71. He’s buried in the Field of Honour at Queen’s Park Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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