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Richard Ward (British Army officer)

General Sir Richard Erskine Ward, GBE, KCB, DSO & Bar, MC (15 October 1917 – 11 August 1989) was a British Army officer who served in the Second World War with distinction and later became Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong.

Sir Richard Ward
Born(1917-10-15)15 October 1917
Died11 August 1989(1989-08-11) (aged 71)[1]
Mendip, Somerset, England[1]
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1937–1976
Service number73199
UnitRoyal Tank Regiment
Commands heldBritish Forces in Hong Kong
1st Division
20th Armoured Brigade
3rd Royal Tank Regiment
Westminster Dragoons
Battles/warsSecond World War
Korean War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (3)
Knight of the Order of Leopold II (Belgium)
Croix de guerre (Belgium)

Military careerEdit

Ward was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Royal Tank Corps (later Royal Tank Regiment) on 26 August 1937.[2][3] He served in the Second World War with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment from 1939 in the Western Desert and North Africa, taking part in the Second Battle of El Alamein and the Battle of Tunis in 1942.[3] Ward was awarded the Military Cross in 1942,[4] and the Distinguished Service Order and Bar in 1943.[5][6] He was also Mentioned in Despatches on 24 June 1943.[7] Ward was Brigade Major with the 4th Armoured Brigade during the Normandy landings in France in 1944.[3] He was appointed Commanding Officer of the Westminster Dragoons in 1945,[3] and Mentioned in Despatches on 9 August for his services in North-West Europe.[8] Ward was appointed a Knight of the Order of Leopold II and awarded the Croix de guerre from the Belgian government in 1947.[9]

Ward served with 1st Royal Tank Regiment in the Korean War in 1952, for which he was again Mentioned in Despatches,[10] before becoming Commanding Officer of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment in 1957.[3] He was made commander of the 20th Armoured Brigade in 1963 and General Officer Commanding 1st Division in 1965.[3] He went on to be Vice Adjutant-General in 1968 and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1969 New Year Honours.[11]

Ward became Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong in 1970,[3] and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1971 New Year Honours.[12] His final post was as Chief of Personnel and Logistics at the Ministry of Defence from 1974.[3] He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in the 1976 New Year Honours,[13] and retired from the army on 24 May that year.[14]

Ward was also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Regiment from 1970 to 1975.[3]

Later life and familyEdit

In retirement Ward presided over an Inquiry into revoking the planning permission, granted in 1973, to United Refineries Ltd for a proposed oil refinery on Canvey Island which reported in March 1981.[15] His findings concerning the British Gas Corporation's methane terminal were disputed by the Health and Safety Executive and the British Gas Corporation and there were doubts about his technical competence: he had conducted the inquiry without the benefit of technical assessors, and had exceeded his terms of reference.[16]

Ward married Stella Elizabeth Ellis in 1947, with whom he had two sons and two daughters.[17][18] His estate was worth £122,280 net.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Erskine Ward". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  2. ^ "No. 34430". The London Gazette. 27 August 1937. p. 5444.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sir Richard Erskine Ward Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  4. ^ "No. 35452". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 February 1942. p. 703.
  5. ^ "No. 36102". The London Gazette. 22 July 1943. p. 3313.
  6. ^ "No. 36217". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 October 1943. p. 4664.
  7. ^ "No. 36065". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 June 1943. p. 2854.
  8. ^ "No. 37213". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 August 1945. p. 4045.
  9. ^ "No. 38079". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 September 1947. p. 4519.
  10. ^ "No. 40036". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 December 1953. p. 6654.
  11. ^ "No. 44740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1969. p. 3.
  12. ^ "No. 45262". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1971. p. 2.
  13. ^ "No. 46777". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1976. p. 6.
  14. ^ "No. 46909". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 May 1976. p. 7438.
  15. ^ Adjournment (Royal Wedding and Summer) Hansard, 23 July 1981
  16. ^ Note by the Cabinet Secretary (Robert Armstrong) to the Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher) dated 11 March 1981, The National Archives PREM 19/483.
  17. ^ Who's who and who was who
  18. ^ The Times, obituary General Sir Richard Ward 14 August 1989 p.12
  19. ^ The Times, 10 February 1990, p.12
Military offices
Preceded by
Miles Fitzalan-Howard
GOC 1st Division
Succeeded by
Allan Taylor
Preceded by
Sir Basil Eugster
Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Sir Edwin Bramall