Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Monday, 23 March 2015

WILLIAM WOOD

WILLIAM WOOD


 

Private 13469

13th Battalion Sherwood Foresters Regiment

Died whilst in training - 23rd March 1915

 
William Wood is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves database as -
 
"Son of the late Joseph and Elizabeth Wood,
Of High Street, New Whittington,
Chesterfield.
Aged 28 years old
Remembered with honour
Lostwithiel (St Bartholomew) Church Cemetery"
 
 
Further research unveiled the service record of Private 13469, William Wood.  This document tells how William joined the regiment on 24th August 1914 aged 28 years and 304 days old.  William was a coal miner on enlistment.  He was 5 feet 9 6/8 inches tall and weighed 154 lbs.
 
An official memorandum dated 2nd April 1915 reported that Private 13469 had died at the Lostwithiel Training Camp in Cornwall on 23rd March 1915.  William had died of heart failure.  The document told that Williams sister Ellen Nurse had been informed of the death as his brother was away serving on a hospital ship, whereabouts unknown.  It also noted that William did not leave a will and told that he had been transferred from the 3rd Battalion to the 13th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment.
 
William's parents Joseph and Elizabeth Wood were deceased before World War 1 reared its ugly head and so on his death his family were required to complete paperwork giving details of William's next of kin.  His sister Ellen Nurse completed the task on 2nd May 1919, the details she gave are as follows -
 
*Fred Wood, brother aged 49 of Harper Lane, Hucknall Huthwaite, near Mansfield.
*Mrs E Nurse, sister aged 46 of 38 London Street, New Whittington, Chesterfield.
*Mrs Fullwood, sister aged 44 of the Police Station, York Road, Shirebrook, Mansfield.
No other siblings or next of kin were documented.

Register of Soldiers Effects - www.ancestry.co.uk
The Register of Soldiers Effects confirms further the next of kin were -
"Sister Ellen, Sister Florence, niece Annie E and brother Fred"
 
William Wood's death was reported in the Derbyshire Times on 27th March 1915 page 4 -
 
"Whittington Soldier Dies In Cornwall
 
Private William Wood of the 13th (Service) Battalion
Sherwood Foresters, a native of Whittington,
who has been quarted at Lostwithiel, Cornwall
died suddenly while on parade on Tuesday morning.
 
It appears that Private Wood was with his platoon
engaged in physical exercises, when he was
seen to fall heavily and although medical aid was
immediately summoned it was found that the
unfortunate man was dead.
 
The deceased who was single and 29 years of age,
was a native of Whittington.  He enlisted in August last.
He had apparently enjoyed good health at Lostwithiel.
At the inquest Private's T Rose and Heath,
who knew the deceased before he joined the army
and had been billeted with him at Lostwithiel,
said he never complained that the physical drill
was too much for him and on the day of his
death he appeared in good health.
 
Captain Duff, Officer Commanding "B" Company said
the deceased had a perfect clean sheet.  The
medical evidence was to the effect that death
was due to failure of the heart and a verdict
was returned accordingly.
 
The funeral with full military honours took place
at Lostwithiel on Thursday"
 

Grave of Private William Wood, Lostwithiel, Cornwall
 
William Wood's grave can be found in the Restormel Road Cemetery at Lostwithiel.  This photo of the grave was kindly taken by @LoveLostwithiel (Twitter) - kind thanks for their time and help to ensure William Wood is remembered 100 years on from his death.
 
The grave reads -
 
In Memory
of
Pte Wm Wood (13469)
"B" Company
13th Batt. Sherwood Foresters
(Notts & Derby Regiment)
Who died on parade
at Lostwithiel
23rd March 1915
Aged 29 years
This stone was erected by his comrades
 
It is a sad reflection, but unfortunately as Private William Wood did not see service overseas there is no medal card for William.  William died serving his country but unlike all of the other 84 men named on the St Barnabas Memorial, William is the only man to have not received any medals for his sacrifice.
 
But who was William Wood....
 
Taking the details given above from the military documents available it appears that William was born circa 1887.  The son of Joseph and Elizabeth, brother to Fred, Ellen and Florence. 
 
William should thus appear on the 1891 census, ideally with his family named above.  This is not to be the case; in 1891 Joseph is living on the High Street in New Whittington but with two children Florence aged 12 and Willoughby aged 11 years old. 
 
In fact I have searched the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census for a William Wood born circa 1887 but I can not find any suitable candidates. It appears that the story of Private William Wood is not as it may first appear.
 
The Wood family....
 
Joseph was born in Tankersley, Yorkshire around 1844, the son of Willoughby and Maria Wood.  By the time Joseph was 7 years old the family had moved to Newbold in Chesterfield, they lived near to the Nags Head Public House in Newbold Village. 
 
Joseph married Elizabeth Taylor on 23rd January 1866 at Whittington and soon after their first child, a daughter named Emily was born.  Joseph was a coal miner and work around the area as they baptised their second daughter Harriett at Worsborough, Yorkshire on 31st May 1868. 
 
The family first appear to be living back in New Whittington when their first son Fred was baptised there on 10th September 1871.  Ellen came next in 1874 born in the near by village of Beighton. The remaining children were all born in New Whittington; Florence in 1878, Willoughby in 1879.  But still no appearance of William Wood born circa 1887.
 
Family loss....
 
Death of Elizabeth Wood - Derbyshire Times 26/05/1888 p8
 
The death of Private William Wood was not the first time such a tragedy had occurred in this family.  William's mother Elizabeth sadly died in similar circumstances on 23rd May 1888.  From the newspaper article it appears that Elizabeth was visiting her brother when she fell sick.  Before her brother could summon help poor Elizabeth had passed away.  The cause of death was attributed to heart disease.  Elizabeth was only 47 years old. 
 
And so it would look likely that Private William Wood may well have inherited some type of heart defect causing his own and his mother Elizabeth's premature death.
 
Death of Joseph Wood - Derbyshire Times 01/04/1893 p5
 
Joseph died five years later on 26th March 1893, he was 49 years old.
 
The Wood siblings....
 
Following the children of Joseph and Elizabeth Wood through census records and birth, marriage and death registers I was able to piece together the future lives of Fred, Ellen and Florence Wood.  Willoughby Wood is a little more complicated and Emily and Harriett I have been unable to pin point for definite.

Emily Wood left home and was working as a domestic servant in 1881, she was aged 15 years old.  She worked for Edwin Gelder who was a Weslyan Minister, they lived at Stapleford, Derbyshire.  Edwin went on to become the Wesleyan Minister for Matlock and lived at Epworth House, Matlock in 1911.  Emily's whereabouts after 1881 are unclear as there are many possibilities of marriages or deaths.

Harriett Wood was residing with the Walker family on the night of the 1881 census, she was described as a "visitor" on the census return.  They lived at 33 Sheffield Road, Newbold.  As for Emily there are many possibilities of what became to Harriett after this date.
 
Fred Wood married Lucy Elizabeth Allsop at Mansfield in 1899.  The couple had at least four children; Fred Victor Wardle Wood 1901, Lucy Elizabeth 1903, Marjorie 1904 and Florence Emma 1909. 
 
Ellen Wood married William John Nurse in 1894.  The couple had at least six children; Beatrice Ellen 1895, John 1897, Charles 1899, Aylmer 1907, Marvin 1909 and Evelyn Annie 1910.  Ellen was to receive another devastating blow when her eldest son John Nurse was also killed in action whilst serving with the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  Private 21851 John William Nurse died on 25th July 1917.  John is also named on the St Barnabas Memorial and his story will be told on the centenary of this death.
 
Florence Wood married John William Fullwood on 22nd May 1899 at New Whittington.  John William Fullwood was a police officer and his job took the family away from New Whittington.  They had a son named after his father John William in 1902. 
 
Willoughby Wood born circa 1879 is not as easy to trace; he appears in 1881 aged 2 years old, living with his mother Elizabeth and father  Joseph, siblings Fred, Ellen and "Floria" (Florence) at High Street, New Whittington.  In 1891 he is living with his father Joseph and sister Florence. 
 
Willoughby may well have joined the 3rd Derbyshire Regiment in 1898, aged 19 years and 11 months.  This soldier, Private 6453 gave his name as William Wood.  His address was 117 High Street, New Whittington.  He was 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall, weighed 151 lbs, with a dark complexion, brown hair and dark brown eyes.  He worked as a collier for Sheepbridge Coal & Iron company at Glapwell.  The records tell that this William enlisted on 9th August 1898, there is no further service details other than the comment "RME 10/08/98".  Whether this means that William was  transferred to the Royal Marine Engineers is unknown at this time as I have found no further documents to prove this. 
 
To add to the confusion in 1901 a possible Willoughby is living back in New Whittington.  He is recorded as "Willie" living as a boarder at 119 High Street with John O'Brien.  Willie is aged 21 years old making his year of birth around 1880, he is also employed as a coal miner hewer.  In 1911 a William Wood aged 34 years (born circa 1877) is a boarder at the Royal Hotel in New Whittington.  This William is employed as a coal miner.
 
I have been unable to trace any marriage or death registration for a Willoughby Wood born around 1879. 
 
Private 13469 William Wood's true identity....
 
So far I have not been able to positively confirm the true identity of the William Wood who died of heart failure on 23rd March 1915.
 
I am however swayed to William and Willoughby being the same person.  The two never appear on any census together, William born 1887 does not ever appear on a census with any family members.
 
I wonder if Willoughby was known as William, which makes sense.  If the service records for William born 1879 and the 1901/1911 are all for Willoughby Wood then it is possible that he was resigned from military service for some reason.  Was Willoughby found to have a medical defect and deemed unfit?   If so then at the outbreak of World War 1 he may well have thought that his chances were slim of being successful in enlisting.  Willoughby would have been old to join up in 1914, he was 35 years old.  In the early stages of the war the ideal soldier was a young fit fellow who could stand the pace, 35 was seen as senior. 
 
Maybe then Willoughby and William are the same man? Willoughby changed his date of birth to join the Sherwood Foresters in 1914?  The two men were the same height and weight.
 
If this is not the case then other suggestions are that Private William Wood could have been adopted by the family and this may be the reason why he appears on no official documentation alongside them. 
 
I will have to leave the story of Private 13469 William Wood open for further investigation.  If any one has any further information on this family please do contact me and add your comments to the blog post. 
 
William is also remembered on the Cornwalls War History Website http://www.cornwallswarhistory.co.uk/
 

With thanks -

To the kind @LoveLostwithiel on Twitter for taking the time to photograph the gravestone of William Wood.

Reference and further reading -

Census
Service records
Soldiers who died in the Great War
Register of Soldiers Effects
Newspaper Articles
CWGC http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx
www.ancestry.co.uk
www.findmypast.co.uk