The son of a former St Marie’s bell ringer, who rang at the Cathedral for more than 20 years, had the centenary of his death during the First World War marked by a memorial peal, lasting more than three hours.
Arthur Ward was killed on 1 July, 1917, during an attack on German defences near the French city of Arras.
He was the fifth son of Theresa and Henry Ward, who had begun ringing in 1888 and rang for 22 years at St Marie’s, where a Peal Board in the ringing chamber records he was among those to ring a muffled peal to mark the interment of Queen Victoria in the Royal Mausoleum on February 4 1901.
Arthur – a silver finisher – and his brothers all followed Henry as bell ringers. However, they all rang at St John’s Anglican Church in the Ranmoor district of Sheffield and it is there that a memorial peal was rung on Saturday, 1 July, followed by a quarter peal on the Sunday.
Both Arthur and his brother Maurice were Privates in the York and Lancaster Regiment, while their eldest brother, Alfred, served as a driver with the Sheffield-based 3rd West Riding Royal Field Artillery, which also saw action in France.
Arthur sailed to France in November 1916 to join the Yorks and Lancaster’s 14th Battalion – also known as the 2nd Barnsley Pals.
On 26 June, Arthur’s Battalion was at Sainte Catherine-lès-Arras, to the North West of the city of Arras, getting ready to move east to capture the German-held Cadorna trenches, north of the village of Gavrelle, and Oppy Wood.
The one acre wood, west of the village of the same name, had been fortified and contained many German observation posts, machine-guns and trench-mortars. An attack on the wood in May had been repulsed with many British casualties, but the new attack proved more successful.
Although Arthur’s battalion suffered what were described as “unusually low casualties,” he was one of those to die following the action. He now lies with 3,000 casualties of the First World War and 20 from the Second World War, who are buried at the ‘Orchard Dump Cemetery’ on the D 919, to the North West of Oppy.
Arthur Ward was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals, which were given to his mother. Arthur’s father, Henry, had died the year before, at the age of 59, but Arthur was survived by his mother, his two sisters, Elsie and Mary, and his four brothers.