(L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Henry was born in January 1887 in Sutton near Epsom in Surrey. His father was called James Joseph Ware and his mother was Ellen. He had an older half brother called Frederick George and one older brother called James Joseph junior. He also had 3 younger siblings; Ellen Louisa, Alice Mabel and William Thomas. The family were members of the Church of England.
James senior worked as a drill instructor at a school whilst Henry grew up. In 1891 the family lived at 4 Greens Cuttings in Cheam, Surrey. Ten years later they had moved to nearby Station Road. This was very close to the Manor House School, although we don't know whether James worked there. Ellen died in 1907.
By 1911 Henry had left home. He lived at Queenswood Cottage in Beddington, Surrey. He was boarding with Alfred West. Both men worked as domestic grooms, looking after horses.
The First World War broke out in August 1914. His experience with horses may explain why Henry decided to join the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry on the 17th September. The Yeomanry were the cavalry of the Territorial Force, who rode horses for reconnaissance and combat. We don't know why he chose a Lancashire unit.
When Henry enlisted he was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 157 pounds. He had a 'sallow' complexion, blue-grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was given the service number 3776.
Henry was assigned to a new unit being raised by the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry. This was named the 2/1st Battalion. We don't know anything about the first 2 years of Henry's service.
Between July and September 1915 Henry travelled back to Beddington for his wedding to Alice Maud Plowman. She would live at 5 Bridle Path in Beddington whilst Henry returned to duty.
By March 1916 the 2/1st Battalion had moved to Fife in Scotland. Later that year they were converted into a cyclist unit. Their horses were withdrawn and replaced with bicycles. These were quieter than horses, and did not need to be fed, so they required fewer supplies.
On the 17th September Henry passed a course of instruction in 'the method of keeping in order and repairing Bicycles. General Service. Marks I, II, III, III* and IV'. He had a 'good' degree of proficiency.
Unfortunately for Henry, he would not have much time to practice his skills. Casualties amongst cavalry and Yeomanry units had not been high, but the Army was short of infantry. Many cavalrymen and Yeomen found themselves transferred to an infantry unit in an effort to make up this shortage.
This happened to Henry on the 5th December 1916. He was transferred to the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 46472. He was sent overseas on the 11th and joined the 23rd Battalion in France.
The 23rd Battalion was part of the 35th Division. This had been formed from 'Bantams' or men who were shorter than the normal minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches. Although many Bantams were physically tough, many were not. A medical inspection of the 35th Division in early December 1916 found over 3000 men out of a full strength of around 20,000 were unfit for the front lines. Henry was one of their replacements.
In early 1917 the 23rd Battalion served in the Somme area, and then later moved south to the Ribecourt area during April and May. Henry was promoted to Unpaid Lance Corporal on the 23rd March and began to be paid a month later. He was promoted to Corporal on the 6th May.
The battalion took its turns in the front lines and the rear over the next few months. On the 21st August they carried out a raid on German trenches codenamed Hawk and Canal. It was a success, but 5 men died, 3 went missing and 46 were wounded.
We believe that this was the raid in which Henry won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His award was published in the London Gazette on the 22nd October. This is his citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid on the enemy's trenches. He pushed ahead of the raiding party and started to cut the wire in face of heavy rifle fire and bursting bombs. He was severely wounded, but, flinging himself across the wire, continued to cut it. When the rest of the party reached him he held down the uncut wire and ordered the men to walk over him. Throughout he showed the greatest fortitude, and his self-sacrifice undoubtedly enabled the others to reach the enemy trench.
Henry was evacuated to the 42nd Stationary Hospital at Amiens. He had been shot in his left thigh. This had caused a compound comminuted fracture of his left femur. This meant the bone had both broken through the skin and been broken into smaller pieces. Henry was also suffering from shock.
Although the doctors did their best, Henry's injuries were too severe and he died on the 26th August. He was 30 years old.
Alice was sent her husband's personal items towards the end of the year. There were 4 notebooks, 2 handkerchiefs, and Henry's 'wristwatch (broken)'. They had had no children, and we don't know what happened to Alice.
Henry is buried in St Pierre Cemetery in Amiens, alongside 746 other men. His grave reference is VII. D. 3.
Henry's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in September 1964. As well as his Distinguished Conduct Medal and Allied Victory Medal, Henry also received the British War Medal for his Army service.