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David Ward

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Colonel David Ward (1835-1888)


1888 Obituary [1]

COLONEL DAVID WARD, Royal (late Bengal) Engineers, was born on the 6th of July, 1835. He was the son of the Rev. Randall Ward, M.A. ; his mother being the daughter of William Ironside, Esq., of Houghton, Durham.

After a preliminary training at private schools, he joined the Honourable East India Company’s Military College at Addiscombe as a Cadet, in August, 1852. There he was a universal favourite, from his joyous disposition and invariable good temper, as well as from his superiority and skill in field-sports.

His first commission was obtained in the Hon. East India Company’s corps of Engineers, in August 1854, and after passing through the course of military and civil engineering at Chatham, he was posted to the Corps of Bengal Engineers, as 2nd Lieutenant, in 1856. On arriving in India, he was attached to the Bengal Sappers and Miners, then stationed at Roorkee. On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, in May 1857, the head-quarters and six companies of the corps were ordered to Meerut. The order was received at 7 A.M., and by 5 o’clock on the same evening a sufficient number of boats had been collected, through the energy of the commanding officer, the late Captain E. Fraser, and the Adjutant (now General F. R. Maunsell, C.B.), for the transport of the troops down the Ganges Canal to a point about 8 miles distant from Meerut, whence a forced march was made by night to the station. The country at that time was in a most disturbed state, as, in addition to the destruction caused by the mutineers, bands of marauders called Goojurs roamed about, destroying the canal works, and any government property on which they could lay hands, and committing murders and other atrocities. In the work of repairing the canal-locks, as well as in the embarkation of the troops, and in the mutiny at Neerut when Captain Fraser lost his life, Lieutenant Ward rendered conspicuous service, and his conduct was specially brought to the notice of the military authorities. He afterwards accompanied the force that proceeded to Delhi from Neerut, under the command of Brigadier-General Sir Ardsdale Wilson. He was present at the action on the Hindun River, on the 28th of May, where the rebels were defeated with the loss of all their guns ; and at the battle of Badle-ka-Serai, on the 8th of June. He served throughout the whole of the memorable Siege of Delhi, and was one of the engineer officers engaged on the final assault of the city on the 14th of September, 1857. On that occasion, out of seventeen officers of engineers engaged with the different storming columns, no less than ten were either killed or wounded. After the capture of Delhi, Lieutenant Ward accompanied the column under General Greathed, and was present at the attack on Futtehpoor. In March 1858, the force under Lord Clyde had concentrated before Lucknow, and, during the arduous service in the trenches and batteries before the capture of the city, Lieutenant Ward was actively engaged.

He next took part in the Rohilkund campaign, in April and May 1858, and was present at the attack on Fort Rohiya, the action of Allygunge and the capture of the town of Bareilly. He also served in Ode at the close of 1858, and in the early part of 1859, and was present at the surrender of Fort Amethie, and the battle of Toolsipore. For his services during the Indian Mutiny, Lieutenant Ward received the Indian medal, with clasps for Delhi and Lucknow, and his name was mentioned in despatches on several occasions. The Mutiny having been quelled, and there being no further prospect of military service, Lieutenant Ward applied to be appointed to the Public Works Department, and was posted to the Fyzabad Division, as an Assistant Engineer, in February 1859. Large works, in connection with the housing of the troops, were at that time in progress, which required much energy and engineering skill on the part of the officers engaged. For the able manner in which he carried out this work, Lieutenant Ward was promoted to the grade of 1st Class Assistant Engineer, and he was transferred to Seetapore as Executive Engineer, 4th Class, in March 1861. In March 1863 he gained another step, becoming a 3rd grade Executive Engineer, and was posted to the temporary charge of the Lucknow Division in April 1864, and to the permanent charge of that Division in March 1865.

On the 17th of January, 1865, he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and in April 1865, to 2nd grade Executive Engineer, his reputation as an able and skilful engineer being now thoroughly established. Constant exposure during the campaign of 1857-58, combined with the subsequent laborious nature of his duties, had severely tested Captain Ward's health, so that he was recommended to take leave to England for eighteen months on medical certificate.

On his return to India, in 1867, he was posted to the North-West Provinces, and in August 1868 he was placed in executive charge of the Chakrata Division. Chakrata, which is now a large hill station in the Himalayas, distant about 50 miles from Mussooree, was at that time an uninhabited hill-side, covered with forest, without roads or water. The construction and laying-out of the large system of barracks, hospitals, and other buildings now forming the station, was entrusted to Captain Ward-a work which he carried out in a most able manner. In addition to the erection of the above-mentioned buildings, a new cart-road had to be laid out leading to the plains, and a system devised for the supply of water, which was brought from a distant hill by a series of wooden shoots and aqueducts.

In August 1869 he was promoted to the rank of 1st grade Executive Engineer. Those who knew Captain Ward at Chakrata at this time can testify to his indefatigable attention to the work under his charge, and to the universal esteem in which he was held. On the separation of the military works from the Public Works Department, in 1872, Captain Ward was appointed to the 2nd Chakrata Division, which comprised the designing and erection of new buildings. He obtained his regimental majority on the 5th of July, 1872, and took furlough to England, on private affairs, in November 1873 ; being elected an Associate of the Institution in December, 1873.

Returning to India, in January 1875, Major Ward was posted to the 2nd circle of military works, and assumed charge of the 2nd Rawal Pindi Division in April 1876. On the 9th of February, 1877, he was promoted to the rank of Superintending Engineer (temporary), and the rank was made permanent in January 1879.

On the 31st of December, 1878, he was raised to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

In November 1879 he assumed charge of the Sirhind Military Works ; and of the Architectural and Buildings Division in December of the same year. Colonel Ward was promoted to the 2nd grade of Superintending Engineers in April 1880. At the close of the same year he took furlough to England for a period of two years ; and on his return to India in November 1882, was appointed to the Mecrut Command Military Works. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel by brevet on the 31st of December, 1882. He remained in charge of the Meerut Command Military Works until 1885, when he was transferred to the Head Quarters of the Inspector-General of Military Works, for special duty in connection with designs for fortifications and military buildings. During the period that Colonel Ward was Superintending Engineer of the Meerut Command, many large buildings and other important works were constructed at various stations. An idea of the large extent of the work over which he had control may be gathered from a statement of the principal stations comprising the Meerut circle, viz., Meerut, Bareilly, Landour, Chakrata, Roorkee, Shahjahanpore, Moradabad, Rainkhet, and several smaller stations. At Meerut he was a universal favourite ; and the hospitality dispensed by Colonel and Mrs. Ward at that station and at Mussooree was widely known, and extended to all classes.

Colonel Ward took great interest in the welfare of the Royal School for Daughters of Officers of the Army, on the Indian Committee of which he was a member.

In April 1886 he was transferred from the military works to the Public Works Department, and was appointed Chief Engineer and Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces, with t,he rank of Chief Engineer, 3rd class. He was promoted to be Chief Engineer, 2nd class (temporary rank), in December 1886, which rank was made permanent in February 1887. He was again promoted to be Chief Engineer, 1st class (temporary rank), in April 1887, and was appointed Chief Engineer and Joint Secretary to the Government of the North-West Provinces, in the Public Works Department, in October 1887. Colonel Ward held the latter high appointment at the time of his death, which took place at Naini-Tal, from cirrhosis, after a very short illness, on the 12th of April, 1888.

He was one of the few remaining officers of the Hon. East India Company’s Corps of Engineers. During his long and varied career, his professional attainments and cheerful equanimity under difficulties gained the esteem of all who knew him. Possessed of sound practical and theoretical attainments, he was one of the most modest of men. Those who had the privilege of Colonel Ward's intimate acquaintance, during the whole of his career, testify that no one ever heard any but expressions of admiration and respect for his ability as an officer, and for his upright and honourable character.


1888 Obituary [2]




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