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Len in Air Warden photo

In January 1943, Len obtained permission from the Medical Research Council to join the Royal Navy and after training at Dartmouth Royal Naval College, he served as a Petty Officer in the Royal Naval Personnel Research Unit, which travelled round the fleet, studying environmental and climatic conditions of sailors in action in gun rooms, magazines and on deck (see Personnel Research in the RN (1939-45) 1950 ADM 298/78 National Archives, Kew).  He spent the final years of the war in the Pacific and Far East, where he managed to find time to take a number of photographs. [You can read extracts from his own autobiographical notes here - they include details of his time in the war].


After the war, Len returned to the MRC in Hampstead, and was a founder member of the Biological Standards Division, which moved to the Institute at Mill Hill in 1949.  Len retired in 1976 and he and Mary moved to St Kew Highway in Cornwall.  They enjoyed over thirty years of retirement in Cornwall – with Len spending time on his hobbies of photography, carpentry and maintaining his succession of beloved Rover cars, while Mary was always busy gardening, cooking and walking.  They spent many holidays around the world, especially in Egypt and the Far East  (where he was able to revisit some of the places he had photographed during the war) as well as cruising the Mediterranean.  He took his original wartime photos with him when they visited Hong Kong and Singapore, which generated a lot of interest from local residents and tourists comparing the views 'then' and 'now'! I also inherited their love of travelling (though I haven't managed to visit nearly as many places in the world as they managed) - but you can see some photos of my trips here. One of their most treasured possessions was a card from HM Queen Elizabeth II, congratulating them on 65 years of marriage.


Len died on 23 oct 2007 in hospital in Bodmin, Cornwall, having been admitted following a fall at his home.  He was 94 years of age. The cause of death was broncho-pulmonary pneumonia, cardiac failure and renal failure.   He was cremated at Glynn Valley Crematorium on 1 nov 2007 and his ashes are laid to rest alongside those of my mother Mary on the lawns overlooking the Camel Valley.


Click here to read his granddaughter Debi's poem about Len - which she read at his funeral - it describes him perfectly

And Len would have been delighted to learn that I was recently contacted by a present day enthusiast for Austin motor cars - who was in the process of restoring the chassis of Len's car pictured above (Reg. MV 1344) and found me through this website - I was pretty excited too and hope to eventually be able to add a photo of the fully restored Austin!!

at polzeath

click HERE to go to another page where you can view photos of some of Len's cars

mary and len with pudding Medium Web view
mary and len at grosvenor road Medium Web view

Above: Len on the cliffs at Polzeath in Cornwall;

Right: with Mary on holiday in Spain

Below Right: Celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary in August 2000

Below: extracted from '100 years of Biological Standardization (1900-2000)', NIBSC

in spain
granny and grandad 3
photo of Len Ward from MRC history

Above:  three photos of Len and Mary in the early years of their marriage at their flat (sorry mum ... 'maisonette') in Finchley

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Mastel Family History

Mastel Family History

Ward/Kent family - first generation: my father

Leonard Ward

Len was born 4 Sep 1913 in Hampstead, the  fifth child of Frank and Rhoda Ward, and attended New End School with his brothers and sisters.


After leaving school at 14, Len went to work at the Medical Research Institute in Frognal as a lab technician (his older brother Harry was already working there).  He would have been tickled pink to know that his reminiscences of his early years as a 'lab boy' for Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute of Medical Research are included in a paper published in 2008 'Keeping the culture alive: the laboratory technician in the mid-twentieth-century British medical research' by E M Tansey (Notes & Records of the Royal Society).  And he also appears in an article Last of the Lab Boys (also by Tilli Tansey) and an associated MRC Centenary booklet.  


Len married Mary Susan Green at the start of the war in 1940 in Hampstead, and they moved into a flat at 35 (the number later changed to 51) Grosvenor Road in Finchley. In the early years of the War, Len was an Air Raid Warden - part of the team covering 'Post 9' - and in 2020 I came across the following photo of the members of 'Post 9' with a letter dated 9th January 1943, addressed to 'Mr Ward' and signed by 27 members, thanking him for all his good work as a Warden, and wishing him well in the Royal Navy.

len aged 5

Left: Len aged about five years


Below:  in the Navy during WWII

len in the navy
len with austin 7 1938 Medium Web view
at home

Above: with one of his first motor cars and Right: playing the banjo!



Len at sea
len ward with banjo

above: Len at sea during WW2

left: photo of members of 'Post 9' Air Wardens covering part of Finchley.  Len is seated in the front row, 2nd left.


Twenty seven men and women signed the accompanying letter, I was able to make out the following names:  R F Ives, C White, Alec Parker, H W Aslam, E A Lidstone,T West, R F Collins, M Devell, D McGuiness, P M Collins, C Wells, E E Skaife?, L E Gilkay, D Akerman, S L Sacks, P S Donovan, JW Broome, H C Manning, G McGuiness, D M Gilkay, E White, C ... Carr, E Green, Monica Pearson, G H Didmead, A... Manning

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