Of the Number One gun crew

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS -

wrongly recorded some­where along the line?

Ceme­tery & head­stone doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to a Gun­ner/act­ing Bom­bardier Wood S. No. 58647 in­di­cated a date of death of May 17, 1915 (the 16 hav­ing been crossed out). Was there any­thing else that I could check? Was he en­ti­tled to any medals?

Yes, he was en­ti­tled to the Vic­tory and Bri­tish War Medals and his name ap­pears in the Roll of in­di­vid­u­als en­ti­tled to such. And there, on record is 58647 Gnr/abdr Wood Sa­muel RFA and in the re­marks “Dead 17/6/15”, just one day dif­fer­ent from the War Diary, this was con­firmed again by the “Regis­ter of Sol­diers’ Ef­fects,” which in­di­cated that a sum of £13.2.0 was to be paid to Thomas Wood, the sole lega­tee, plus a War Gra­tu­ity of £5.0.0. Again the date of June 17 is stated.

After more in­ter­net search­ing I un­earthed the Army Ser­vice Records for 58647 Sa­muel Wood which showed, amongst other things, that he had been trans­ferred to the care of the 16th Field Am­bu­lance and had died of wounds on the 17th of June 1915. He had been buried at the “Ceme­tery, Vlamert­inghe” on June 20. His ser­vice record gave other de­tails about the man as a per­son.

Sa­muel Wood had en­listed on Septem­ber 23, 1909, he had lived in the Par­ish of St James, Wolver­hamp­ton, and was a 5’7, 18 year old youth of good de­vel­op­ment, whose civil­ian oc­cu­pa­tion was a groom.

Whilst in the army he had been em­ployed as a store­man and was de­scribed as “Hon­est, sober, clean, hard-work­ing and re­li­able, in­tel­li­gent and ac­cus­tomed to work­ing with horses.”

Ef­fects

He is recorded as hav­ing been posted to the 111th Bat­tery RFA from re­in­force­ments on the Oc­to­ber 25, 1914, so he would have been with the Bat­tery from the early days of the war. His record shows that he was based at home from en­list­ment un­til de­ploy­ment to France on Septem­ber 10, 1914.

So, what of his fam­ily? The record of “Sol­diers Ef­fects” shows his sole lega­tee as Thomas Wood, one might as­sume this to be his fa­ther, but his ser­vice records in­di­cate that the re­ferred to Thomas was his brother, and fur­ther showed that Thomas had been res­i­dent at a school for the deaf and dumb in Manch­ester, where he ap­pears on the 1911 cen­sus as a 16 year old boarder, and Ap­pren­tice Boot­maker.

The 1901 cen­sus had shown Thomas, three years ju­nior to Sa­muel, and liv­ing at 17 Corn­hill, Wolver­hamp­ton, with par­ents Thomas and Eve plus sib­lings John and El­iz­a­beth in ad­di­tion to Sa­muel.

Upon Sa­muel’s death it be­came nec­es­sary to find his next of kin and the County Po­lice at Old Traf­ford, Manch­ester, were called upon to as­sist in lo­cat­ing Thomas. Amongst doc­u­ments in Sa­muel’s Army Record are let­ters re­lat­ing to this. There are two, dated July 18, 1915 from the County Po­lice Of­fice, Old Traf­ford, to the RFA & RHA Records Of­fice at Wool­wich, and to the Chief Con­sta­ble, Bor­ough Po­lice Of­fice, Wolver­hamp­ton, to say that Thomas had left the Deaf & Dumb School at Manch­ester some 12 months pre­vi­ously and was lodg­ing at No. 1 Red­hall Street, Wolver­hamp­ton.

A re­ply dated July 19, 1915 from Sergeant Wal­ter W Tart of the Po­lice Of­fice Wolver­hamp­ton in­di­cated that on that day he had vis­ited the ad­dress and spo­ken with a Mrs Wright with whom Thomas was lodg­ing, she in­formed the Sergeant that Thomas was at work at that time, his em­ployer be­ing Baker & Son’s boot fac­tory, but he was aware of his brother’s death.

Head­stone

I pre­sented the in­for­ma­tion which I had un­earthed to the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion who agreed that some of their records must be in­cor­rect re­gard­ing date of death, and where pos­si­ble they would al­ter them, and that his head­stone which had borne the wrong date for a hun­dred years would, in due course, be cor­rected.

In Oc­to­ber 2017 my brother and I made a visit to the bat­tle­fields of Bel­gium and France, and a visit to the Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery at Vlamert­inghe was a must. We found the grave of Sa­muel Wood, still with the orig­i­nal head­stone and date. There were also a number of uniden­ti­fied graves. We de­cided to ‘adopt’ one, it could eas­ily be the grave of our great un­cle Bill, or per­haps Fred Green. My grand­mother used to say that Bill could be the Un­known War­rior. In a way, I sup­pose he is.

Vlamert­inghe ceme­tery shortly after the end of the war

Vlamert­inghe Church and ceme­tery as it looks to­day

The grave of A/bdr. S. Woods, Vlamert­inghe Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery, Bel­gium

Fred Green as listed in the Regis­ter of Sol­diers’ Ef­fects

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