On 12 March 1918, Reginald Ward was injured while serving as part of the 1st Canadian Machine Gun Battalion. Either a shot or a piece of shrapnel wounded his leg and he was evacuated to England.
Although he did not know it at the time, this injury kept him out of the war until the Armistice of 11 November 1918. Ward worked as a butcher in Canada before the war broke out and carried this trade on as a meat salesman for the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) in the Smithfield Market in London after the war.
A gassing he received in 1917 sadly caught up with Reginald in 1931 and he died of lobar pneumonia, an illness associated with damaged lungs. The CWS then handed Reginald’s widow Esther a life line in the form of secretarial work in their offices in Leman street in London.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.