Thank you, Carol, for your thorough research, which corresponds with that of my brother, Barry Nelson. Barry unfortunately died last year, but not before publishing his own research on Will Monckton and Thunderbolt. From early in our lives we knew of the connection to Thunderbolt (Will Monckton was our great-great-grandfather) but Barry became very interested in the truth, and thus researched thoroughly, sometimes in collaboration with Stephan Williams. He had an ongoing dispute with Barry Sinclair over the facts. We know that William Monckton gave conflicting accounts of the facts, but Barry Nelson's research indicates that the account you give on this website is indeed the truth, and that the greatest likelihood is that it was Fred Ward who died at Uralla. Fred Ward did not escape to Canada or the US. We don't really know why great-great grandfather Will told the stories he did, but what I do know is that his daughters were very reluctant to talk about this period of his life at all, hence we don't have any first- or even second-hand accounts of the stories.
I was given a copy of "Three Years with Thunderbolt" (Will Monckton) to read when I was about 10 years old. My mother had heard the stories, she was 11 years old when Will died, there's a picture of her as a baby sitting on his knee. And she tended to believe that Will was covering up for Fred Ward and that he was not the one shot at Uralla. One of stories we heard was that Fred Ward went to New Zealand. So there you are, yet another rumour! However, Barry Nelson's research debunks all of this. I wish he was here to talk to you about it as he spent a number of years on the research.
As well as reading the two books as children, Will Monckton’s “Three Years with Thunderbolt” and Annie Rixon’s book, and being told by our mother that Fred Ward went to the US and lived to a ripe old age, our parents took us to Thunderbolt’s grave when I was 12 years old. Mum said “It’s not Fred Ward, it’s not Captain Thunderbolt, in this grave, because he wasn’t shot in Uralla, he escaped to America”. So for us to all turn around from this position to exactly the opposite conclusion really took some convincing because it was firmly entrenched in our family history. We are grateful for Barry Nelson’s, and for your, research.
Thank you again, Carol, and we hope that truth will prevail!
It will, Jan. It will!! Stay tuned to this blog.
For further information about Will Monckton's statements, see
What did William Monckton say?