Ward, John Smyth

Ward, John Smyth (John)

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers

Died of disease on Sunday 30 January 1921 (aged 24)


Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor Co. Down (Grave 4R. 23)


Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church

Annals of Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church


In some records his second forename is spelt Smith.

John Smyth Ward was born on 13 January 1897 in the townland of Ballysallagh and he was a son of Thomas and Isabella Ward (nee Todd) who were married on 5 November 1890 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  Thomas Ward from Ballymullan was a son of Thomas Ward, a labourer.  Isabella Todd from Ballysallagh was a daughter of William Todd.

The Ward family lived in the townland of Ballysallagh; the townland of Ballykillare, Crawfordsburn and later in The Square, Crawfordsburn.

Thomas Ward worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Isabella had at least five children all of whom were baptised in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church:

Eleanor (born 11 November 1891 in Ballysallagh)

Thomas (born 26 October 1893 in Ballysallagh)

John Smyth (born 13 January 1897 in Ballysallagh)

William Todd (born 9 April 1905 in Crawfordsburn)

Isabella (born 23 March 1908 in Crawfordsburn; died of whooping cough 19 July 1908)

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War John Ward worked as a telegraph message boy and during the war, according to family information, he served first with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and then with the Northumberland Fusiliers.

John’s brother Thomas enlisted on 22 September 1914, served with the Royal Engineers (No. 57847) in the 36th ((Ulster) Division and was awarded the Military Medal and Mentioned in Despatches.  Thomas survived the war and died in 1952.

It has been suggested that John Ward was transferred from the Black Watch to the Northumberland Fusiliers (No. 366358) before he went to France and that he was subsequently transferred to the Devon Regiment (No. 73855).  During his time at the Front, John suffered from the effects of gas poisoning and was discharged from the Army.

John Smyth Ward was 24 and an Army Pensioner when he died of tuberculous empyema on 30 January 1921 in the UVF hospital in Botanic Avenue, Belfast and he was buried in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor on 1 February 1921.  Already buried in that grave were Rachel Ward who died of bronchitis in Crawfordsburn on 31 August 1915 and was buried on 2 September 1915 (aged 66), together with Thomas Ward who died of gangrene on 4 March 1918 and was buried on 6 March 1918 (aged 74).

Since then there have been two more burials in the grave – Thomas Ward (on 10 November 1952) and his wife Rachel Ward (on 30 January 1983).  These are the only two names engraved on the present-day headstone.

John Smyth Ward is commemorated on the War Memorial in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church and in the annals of Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church.