Gunner John Thomas Ward, 71 Anti Tank Regiment,278 Battery No. 4398737
John Ward went missing on 25 October 1944, whilst fighting with his battery/regiment in S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch.
The Regimental War dairy doesn’t give any details about a fatal casualty, but it is known one gun was hit whilst entering the town, and also that there was some fierce fighting for the Bridges and Sluice on the north-east side of the town.
Memorial Bastion Sint Anthonie
On the Hekellaan in 's-Hertogenbosch a Memorial can be found. This memorial on Bastion Sint-Anthonie is placed to remember the attack on October 25th 1944 when soldiers of the Royal Welsh Fuseliers at 'Sluis Nul' crossed the 'Zuid-Willemsvaart' A day later a Baileybridge was build next to the sluice door, on this way they liberated Den Bosch.
From the Regimental War diary can be read that B Troop of 278 moved into the town on the 24th and 25th.
C Troop first covering the Bridge at coordinate 328462, in the night of 24/25 which is the bridge near the sluice at the Bastion, whilst the following day B Troop crossed it with 1/5 Battalion the Welch Regiment around 13.30, they were heavily and accurately shelled and the bridge received hits, also a 1 gun received a direct hit , by a 10cm shell although it was stated that there were no fatal casualties, it could well be that a crew member was wounded by it, also the positions were heavily shelled during the day.
I came across his name whilst checking for information about missing soldiers in that area, after I found a list in the S’Hertogenbosch archives which mentioned a unknown soldier found in the Bastion location, all others on that list are named and identified during or after the war.
(No.4 and that list Hawkins and Gotelij are: Pte H.E. Hawkins No.14736191 and L/Cpl T.J. Gateley No.798681)
Looking on all others on the list this unknown must have been buried at Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery 17.B.9 , first named as Royal Artillery, Private R. Newman No.10608894. (also in pencil is written 1607439 but this refer to another last name as you can see from the attached card)) However it later turned out that this was not correct and turned into unknown british soldier)
When checking unknowns from 1/5 Welch Regiment, none of the 4 missing were killed in S’Hertogenbosch area. The same for the 3 men missing from 4 Welch Regiment, and the last unit who went into action on the location 7 Royal Welch Fusiliers don’t have any missing men.
L/Cpl T.D. James No.3976184 1/5 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 24-9-1944, known to have been killed in Netersel area (a month before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte J.E. Williams No.3976266 1/5 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 24-9-1944, known to have been killed in Netersel area (a month before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte F.E. Loosemore No.14716807 1/5 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 18-10-1944, known to have been killed in Sint Oedenrode area (4 days before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte/ T/ Hambleton No.14746301 1/5 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 30-11-1944, known to have been killed in Buggenum (8 days after before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte V.J. John No.3967931 4 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 26-9-1944, known to have been killed in Reusel (a month before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte V.G. Thomas No.3963260 4 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 09-10-1944, No specific information I have been able about his death so far but this was (3 weeks before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
Pte E.J. O’Brien No.14739212 4 Bn Welch Regiment missing since 09-10-1944, No specific information I have been able about his death so far but this was (3 weeks before S’Hertogenbosch/Den Bosch was liberated)
So to me it that makes it more likely that the unknown soldier buried in grave 17.B.9 at Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery, could be Gunner Thomas Ward, I have enclosed a number of documents which I think could be relevant to his case
I don’ know if there is any information in the records about the items found on his body, maybe they were handed over, to a Grave Registration unit. Most likely the municipal records were not checked or else the information in the documents must have come up with his name and details.
WARD, John Thomas
278 Battery, 71 Anti-Tank Regiment RA
Missing since: 01-11-1944
Answer Received: 5-1-2021
Cause: Killed during liberation of Den Bosch. Believed to be the unknown buried at Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery, Grave
I find it a little fustrating that it seems that the CWGC not even take the trouble of comparing the dental records.
Case out come: January 2021
- ID Case 763 (answer from CWWG on my case)
o Contemporary investigations reversed the identity of this grave from a Pte. Newman, under circumstances we do not know.
o As an Unknown Commonwealth Forces casualty there are too many candidates to consider.
o The only information we have is where the casualty was concentrated from.
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