• Christina Drummond

Pilot Officer William Anthony Ward, Royal Air Force Volunteer Force

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1942, Pilot Officer William Anthony Ward, Royal Air Force Volunteer Force, died while on active service at Bridgend, Glamorganshire.

The son of a mechanical engineer, he attended Ipswich School on a scholarship, where he became head boy at Rigaud House and Vice Captain of the school. He won a scholarship to study Natural Science at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he took Honours in Mathematical Mods and Shortened Physics. He was well-known for his musical ability as well as his scientific mind. Pilot Officer Ward joined the Oxford University Air Squadron, and in 1941 gained a commission in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Force.

On the day of his death he took off with two other crew members in a Bristol Beaufighter from R.A.F. St. Althan in Glamorganshire, on a test flight. With him were Flight Sergeant Jack Elford Hicks, R.A.F., age 21, and Flying Officer Josef Nejezchleba, R.A.F., from Czechoslovakia, age 25. The aircraft stalled in a steep climb after take-off and the pilot was unable to hold the nose down – it was discovered that the trimming tabs control was faulty, reversing its normal function. The aircraft crashed not long after take-off and all three men were killed.

Pilot Officer Ward is remembered on the chapel war memorial at Ipswich School, and also on a memorial at the entrance to the chapel at Brasenose College, Oxford.

William, from Ipswich, was 21 years old.

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