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James Allen Ward

James Allen Ward. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-01992-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

James Allen Ward. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relat …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    James Allen AWMM
  • Surname
    Ward AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • NZ401793 AWMM
    • WWII Jimmy AWMM
    • WWII 401793 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    14 June 1919 AWMM WanganuiManawatu-Wanganui AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Service number
    • NZ401793 AWMM
    • WWII Jimmy AWMM
    • WWII 401793 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    Victoria Cross (VC) AWMM
    VC. Medal citation; "On the night of 7th July, 1941, Sergeant Ward was second pilot of a Wellington returning from an attack on Munster. When flying over the Zuider Zee at 13,000 feet, the aircraft was attacked from beneath by a Messerschmitt which secured hits with cannon shell and incendiary bullets. The rear gunner was wounded in the foot but foot but delivered a burst of fire which sent the enemy fighter down, apparently out of control. Fire then broke out near the starboard engine and, fed by petrol from a split pipe, quickly gained an alarming hold and threatened to spread to the entire wing. The crew forced a hole in the fuselage and made strenuous efforts to reduce the fire with extinguishers, and even the coffee in their vacuum flasks, but without success. They were then warned to be ready to abandon the aircraft. As a last resort, Sergeant Ward volunteered to make an attempt to smother the fire with an engine cover which happened to be in use as a cushion. At first he proposed to discard his parachute, to reduce wind resistance, but was finally persuaded to take it. A rope from the dingy was tied to him, though this was of little help and might have become a danger had he been blown off the aircraft. With the help of the navigator, he then climbed through the narrow astro-hatch and put on his parachute. The bomber was flying at a reduced speed but the wind pressure must have been sufficient to render the operation one of extreme difficulty. Breaking the fabric to make hand and foot holds where necessary, and also taking advantage of existing holes in the fabric, Sergeant Ward succeeded in descending three feet to the wing and proceeding another three feet to a position behind the engine, despite the slipstream from the airscrew, which nearly blew him off the wing. Lying in this precarious position, he smothered the fire in the wing fabric and tried to push the cover into the hole in the wing and on to the leaking pipe from which the fire came. As soon as he removed his hand, however, the terrific wind blew the cover out and when he tried again it was lost. Tired as he was, he was able with the navigator's assistance, to make successfully the perilous journey back into the aircraft. There was now no danger of fire spreading from the petrol pipe, as there was no fabric left nearby, and in due course it burnt itself out. When the aircraft was nearly home some petrol which had collected in the wing blazed up furiously but died down quite suddenly. A safe landing was then made despite the damage sustained by the aircraft. The flight home had been made possible by the gallant action of Sergeant Ward in extinguishing the fire on the wing in circumstances of the greatest difficulty and at the risk of his life." AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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  • Embarkation details

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM
    Killed on air operations AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • James Allen Ward was the son of Percy Harold and of Ada May Ward (nee Stokes) of Wanganui

    He was the first New Zealand airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Victoria Cross held by the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand and is on display. The War Cemetery in Hamburg is situated within a large civil cemetery known locally as 'Ohlsdorf Cemetery'. AWMM


About death

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  • Death
    15 September 1941 AWMM
    Age 22 AWMM
    HamburgGermany AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Hamburg Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany AWMM 5A. A1. 9. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    Dunedin, Victoria Cross winners' plaque, Queens Gardens, Dunedin, New Zealand AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of James Allen Ward

Leave a note

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  • I read recently of his feat and marvel at the bravery of this fine young man. I shall visit Auckland Museum next week with a piece of memorabilia to be added to his record there , once authenticated. Coincidentally, his anniversary falls today , a few days after I won this memorabilia at auction. What a brave young man indeed.
    Public - Georgina - Self - 15 September 2019
  • PART
    "Jimmy" over Zuiderzee;thoughts of Munster,a nightcap trouble free
    Until that under belly Messerschmitt;canons fire his 'incendiary'
    'Box' the afts gunner,counters a "ward" aplenty!
    What for sake is it,fiery in lighting you all see
    Starboards prop 'Widdowson;'as I'm firebrand "James" the kiwi.
    I'll take a look Squadron Leader and shroud the flames out
    Joe a rope anchor;my chute breasting,should I fall a doubt.
    Seeing the stars atop,astros-hatch I sit a pause
    Outwardly my boots holing;blows bluster "Wellington" she roars!
    I can't ball it down,the current flies it a sky
    I'll tow my way back bunker down tired I have tried.
    Alongside Hollands coast we're not far from home
    A fire spout a flame,now over blighty our own.
    Churchill will see it by humble way;a VC for utmost 'stunting' allay!

    Copyright:N.J.Deller 4/8/17 "Lessons I teach danger in reach"
    Public - Nathan John - 5 August 2017
  • My Mother's Uncle Allen. Such unimaginable courage that was queried at the time, as to whether or not is was deserving of the honour of V.C. Then even later, the politics and pressure on the family over the custody of his medals. Finally, recognition putting him in his place in history. One of the best accounts I've read, is found on this Canadian website: ArticleView/articleId/557/Fire-in-the-Heart.aspx Lest we forget.
    Public - Kim - Other relative - 24 April 2016
  • My grandmas mothers sisters boy. Inspired me to fly myself. Where a T-shirt when flying with his name and 75 squadron motif on.
    Public - martin - Other relative - 25 February 2016



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  • External links
  • Documents
    • Chorley, W. (1993). Royal Air Force Bomber Command losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses 1941 (Vol. 2). Leicester, England: Midland Counties Publications. AWMM
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
    • Harper, G., & Richardson, C. (2006). In the face of the enemy: The complete history of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand. Auckland, N.Z.: HarperCollins NZ. AWMM
    • The Register of the Victoria Cross. (1997). (3rd ed.). Cheltenham, England: This England. AWMM
    • Hyde, E. (1995). Kia Kaha : forever strong : New Zealand's involvement in World War II. Wellington, N.Z.: The National Library of New Zealand. AWMM
    • Bryant, G.A. (1972). Where the prize is highest : the stories of the New Zealanders who won the Victoria Cross. Auckland, N.Z.: Collins. AWMM
    • Harper, G., & Richardson, C. (2006). In the face of the enemy: The complete history of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand. Auckland, N.Z.: HarperCollins NZ. AWMM
      Harper, G. & Richardson, C. (2006). p.207-210 AWMM
    • Thompson, H. (1956). New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vols. 1-3). Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol. 1, pp. 197-198). AWMM
    • The Register of the Victoria Cross. (1997). (3rd ed.). Cheltenham, England: This England. AWMM
      Buzzell, N. (1997). p. 325 AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
14 June 2020Ian BanksTaumarunui New ZealandResearcher
15 September 2019GeorginaWellingtonSelf
05 August 2017Nathan JohnHettstedt GermanyOther
01 August 2017JeniferWairarapaResearcher
24 April 2016KimNSW, AustraliaOther relative
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