With work virtually finished on my book, I’ve been ‘moonlighting’ and carrying on with compiling the counterpart WW1 database. And I’ve found something pretty remarkable. The late Walter and Elizabeth Ware, of Havant Road in Cosham, lost four sons during the First World War.
Walter and Elizabeth Ware married in Southsea in 1882. According to the 1891 census, Walter and Elizabeth Ware were living in Knapps Cottages, 1 Havant Road. This was technically outside Portsmouth, in Widley. Walter Ware was born in 1853, and was an employed Labourer, originally born in the village of Southwick north of Portsmouth. His wife Elizabeth was born in Southsea in 1858. As well as Walter, William and Wynn, they also had a daughter Mabel and another son, Wallace.
Private George Ware, 20, was a regular soldier serving with the 1st Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. The 1st DCLI had been station in Ireland, but went to France in August 1914. George Ware was killed on 14 September 1914 during the Battle of the Aisne, and is remembered on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial in France.
Sergeant Wynn Ware, 29, was serving with the 5th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The 5th Royal Irish were a Service unit, formed in Armagh in 1914 as part of Kitchener’s New Armies. Sailing to Gallipoli in 1915, the Battalion landed at Suvla Bay on 7 August 1915. Wynn Ware was killed on 17 September 1915, and is remembered by a special memorial in Green Hill Cemetery in Turkey.
Corporal Jack Ware, 21, was a medic serving at 33rd Casualty Clearing Station, part of the Royal Army Medical Corps. He died on 20 December 1916, and is buried in Calais Southern Cemetery in France. The 33rd CCS were based at Bethune for most of the war, so Jack Ware must have been ill himself and transferred away from the front line, possibly explaining why he is buried in Calais.
Gunner Walter Ware, 36, was serving with 136th Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed on 15 June 1918, and is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery in Belgium.
Walter died in 1894 and Elizabeth in 1903, but had they been alive they would have received four telegrams from the War Office informing her that each of her sons had been killed in action. One must have been bad enough, but four? In Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks’s character went to save James Ryan as three of his brothers has been killed, but Mrs Ware lost four sons in the Great War.
If I’m going to write a book about the men of Portsmouth killed during the First World War, then I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about the Ware family. If anyone has any information about them at all, fee free to contact me.