1. Grave:St. Mary's Churchyard, WhitchurchB.2.8/4
2. Book:Beyond The Five PointsPgs 119-120

Awards & Titles:

Victoria Cross
Queen's South Africa Medal 2 x Clasps

Early Life :

Born 10th July, 1876 at Hunslet, Leeds, Yorkshire and baptised at the Church of St. Thomas, Leeds on the 5th November of the same year. The family were resident at Tulip Street. ("Five Points" and most unofficial record erroneously state 1877 whereas Birth Index and physical church record show 1876). He was the son of George Burley and Ann Elizabeth Ward, who were unmarried.

Charles married Emily Kaye in 10th October, 1904 at Hunslet Parish Church. He is listed as a Drill instructor on the record of marriage, which also makes record of his father. Charles and Emily go on to have four children: Lilian (b.1905), Edith (b.1906), Charles Llewellyn (b.1908) and Dorothy (b.1910). Sadly, his marriage was failing by early 1919, when Emily committed suicide.

Seven months later Charles was married a second time to Annie Elizabeth McNally, which resulted in the issue of Eric Burley Ward (b.1920).

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) 

Action : Natural Causes 

Natural causes is attributed those deaths due to causes that were not directly associated with the war. Included in this are wartime deaths resulting from, for example, theSpanish Influenza pandemic and its associated pneumonia problems and other attributions such as age and exhaustion. It also groups those who through Post Traumatic Stress committed suicide as a result of their experiences.

Detail :

5480 Company Sergeant Major, Charles Burley Ward, VC 2nd Battalion, The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

See also VC Online.

His service records show he attested for service in the Army on the 29th April, 1897. He was a labourer and had previously served in the local militia, 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. His preference was to join the Yorkshire Light Infantry. He saw service in South Africa where he enacted his Victoria Cross action a Lindley, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa - recorded in the London Gazette 28th September, 1900.

"On the 26th June, 1900, at Lindley, a picquet of the Yorkshire Light Infantry was surrounded on three sides by about 500 Boers, at close quarters. The two Officers were wounded and all but six of their men were killed or wounded. Private Ward then volunteered to take a message asking for reinforcements to the Signalling Station about 150 yards in the rear of the post. His offer was at first refused owing to the practical certainty of his being shot; but, on his insisting, he was allowed to go. He got across untouched through a storm of shots from each flank, and, having delivered his message, he voluntarily returned from a place of absolute safety, and re-crossed the fire-swept ground to assure his Commanding Officer that the message had been sent. On this occasion he was severely wounded. But for this gallant action the post would certainly have been captured."

The medal was awarded by Queen Victoria herself at Windsor Castle just before she died, the last V.C. to be awarded during her reign. He further received the Queen's South Africa Medal with two clasps - Cape Colony and Orange Free State. He was wounded in action which led to his discharge, being declared unfit for service by 4th January 1901.

Having recovered by the time of the Great War he re-enlisted into the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as a Private on the 10th September, 1914. A week later he was promoted Sergeant and a month later he was a Colour Sergeant. A few weeks later still, having transferred to the Army Gymnastic Staff he was further promoted to Company Sergeant Major Instructor. He spent the entire war on Home Service on Training duties, but was discharged a second time under King's Regulation Para 392 (xvi). It is stated that Synovitis to his right knee was the cause of his disability, which had been attributed to his military service. He was discharged on the 21st November, 1918.

A notification of his death appeared in the Western Mail 30th November, 1921:- "On 29th December, after prolonged illness, Charles Burley Ward, VC, of 3 Soberton-avenue, Cardiff. Funeral arrangements later."

The circumstances of that illness are not stated, but given the breakdown of his marriage and discharge from the military following the Great War, his mental health may have been severely impacted. He died at the Glamorgan County Asylum, Brigend, Glamorgan and is laid to rest at St. Mary's Churchyard, Whitchurch, Cardiff. His grave is now headed with a headstone maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His date of death is confused: Probate and contemporary newspaper account show the 29th, whereas the headstone itself is marked with the 30th.

A silent movie video of an interview which took place with Charles, shot in the early 20th century, exists on YouTube

Charles is further commemorated at the Royal British Legion Club at Whitchurch and on a plaque outside the City Art Gallery, Leeds.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Loyal Commercial No. 2720 E.C.South Wales

27th September 1913
22nd November 1913
7th March 1914

In 1913, Charles Ward took his first step into Freemasonry. He is listed as a 36 year old Physical Instructor, resident at Cardiff. Above his occupation, in brackets, is recorded "Victoria Cross." In March, 1914 he had become a master mason and was presented with his Grand Lodge Certificate 5th May, 1914. He is recorded with war service for 1915-1919 and continued subscribing following the war. The contribution record is closed out with "Died Dec 1921."

An letter exists which is recorded in the archives of Ars Quatuor Coronatum Volume 100 dated 1967.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2021-03-10 18:41:40