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Pte. H. Woods


Tom Morgan
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Nearly ten years ago I tried to research a soldier (3/7283 Pte. H. Woods. 1st. Dorsets) who was killed in action on Hill 60 in July, 1915. I read about Pte. Woods in "A Sergeant-Major's War) which is the diary of Ernest Shepard, edited by Bruce Rossor. The diary mentions a bombardment which killed several men, Pte. Woods among them.

My research came to a dead end.

According to Soldiers Died, Pte Woods was born in Shrivenham, Berkshire, and residing at Shaftesbury, Dorset.

When I see the excellent help and advice which people on the forum are able to give, It makes me think that it may be time to have another try. There are lots more enthusiasts around now, and possibly also more research opportunities, of which I'm not aware.

Please note - I am not asking anyone to do free research, or do my work for me. It's just that I don't have any real expertise in this kind of research like some Pals. I've never even been to the PRO/NA. But those who visit for regular research might see a glaring possibility which could be tried.

Below I quite from an article I wrote for my web-site, which is a sort of "the story so far...." account. I wonder if those interested might read through this and see if they can suggest anything else I might try.

I now had a copy of Harry's Army Death Certificate. These documents give fewer details than the civilian version and the only new piece of information was Harry's age at the time of his death - 22 years, indicating a year-of-birth of either 1892 or 1893. I returned to Soldiers Died in the Great War which gives, for each soldier, a name, number, place of birth, place of enlistment and place of residence if different from the birthplace. It also gives a place of death but only in the most vague terms - F&F means France and Flanders. I assumed that the details listed must have come, in the first instance, from the soldiers themselves, probably taken down at the time of enlistment, so I decided to follow up two lines of enquiry - Harry's birth in Shrivenham and his later residence in Shaftesbury.

For the years in question, there were four births registered giving the name Harry (or Henry) Woods, but none was anywhere near Shrivenham. I wrote to every telephone subscriber in the area with the surname and received replies from every one, but no-one was aware of a relative called Harry, although everyone sent best wishes and many sent offers of help. The local vicar got his car out one afternoon and toured all the local villages looking for Harry's name on the war memorials, but without success. I also wrote to the local newspapers, churches and schools, receiving in return more good wishes, lots of genuine interest but no hard facts. I was surprised at the number of people who were willing to write to a complete stranger and tell him that they had no information to give him despite having made, in many cases, considerable efforts to unearth some!

Enquiries in Shaftesbury, where Harry was living at the time of his enlistment, took an interesting turn. In the Register of Absent Voters (absent, that is, due to active service abroad) was the name Harry Woods, serving in the Dorset Regiment. Incredibly, this was an entirely different man who survived the war, returned to his wife in St. James's Street and lived until the 1930s. This other Harry Woods caused much interest, as when I wrote to telephone subscribers, local papers, schools and churches in the Shaftesbury area, my letters obviously aroused considerable interest and those who decided to engage in a little research on my behalf invariably located him. I was sent a copy of an Order of Service from one of the Shaftesbury churches, asking for prayers for those men of the parish who were away at the war and among the names was that of Harry Woods but it was soon established that this was the other Harry, who lived near to the church and was a regular member before and after the war right up to his death. He is buried in the churchyard.

The fact is, that I have been unable to locate any evidence, documentary or anecdotal, to prove that Harry was born or lived where he (presumably) said. He seems to have had no next-of-kin, he is not mentioned on any war memorial anywhere in the UK apart from the Dorset Regiment Roll of Honour at the Regimental Museum in Dorchester and he seemed to be remembered by no-one.

Tom

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Guest gen_wizard

Hi Tom,

Have you tried the 1901 census? There is a Harry Woods aged 10 years old living at the parish of Crowthorne and born in the district of Wokingham. Not sure if this is your guy. i'm off to work in a minute but i'll see what else i can dig up when i get home for you. I have various genealogy resources here at home.

Regards

Mike

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Guest naneek

i have just been reading your email about a harry woods

this is what i have found

HARRY WOODS Birth: 1892

Shrivenham, Berkshire, England

Marriage:

Death: 05 JUL 1915

Ypres, West Vlaanderen, Belgium

hope this helps

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The publication '10,000 Fallen Remembered on Dorset War Memorials' does not list a Harry or H. Woods. The closest match is a Pte Harold Wood (Whitchurch Canonicorum memorial I think?) and Pte H. Wood (Marshwood memorial), both without the 's'.

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i have just been reading your email about a harry woods

this is what i have found

HARRY WOODS Birth: 1892

Shrivenham, Berkshire, England

Marriage:

Death: 05 JUL 1915

Ypres, West Vlaanderen, Belgium

hope this helps

That sounds very interesting naneek - where did you find those details?

Tom

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Tom

Taking naneek's information, the following "harry Woods" have a brth registered in 1892.

Name Year Quarter Record Type County Volume Page

Woods, Harry 1892 June Births 9b 634

Woods, Harry 1892 March Births Lancashire 8d 167

Woods, Harry 1892 September Births London Middlesex 1a 376

Woods, Harry 1892 September Births Lancashire 8b 827

Woods, Harry Aveling 1892 December Births Lincolnshire 7a 367

Woods, Harry John 1892 September Births London Surrey 1d 939

Woods, Harry Walter 1892 June Births Norfolk 4b 12

Woods, Harry William 1892 March Births Norfolk 4b 126

The first one, who doesn't have a county recorded, is from Dewsbury. I can't find anybody from Berkshire.

Regards

Stephen

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Steven - thanks for that. I will be in touch with a couple of questions, I think.

Thanks to all for comments so far. I will be away from the computer soon, so if I fail to reply to any comments for the next few days, please don't think it's due to ingratitude. I'll be in touch when I get back.

Tom

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Tom,

I have read the story previously on your website (with great interest as it goes - as I now libe in Dorset)................But, have you thought that Harry wasn't his first name, I have been spending a lot of time researching my family history and I regularly come across occurances where the first name has been dropped, just a thought!!

Steve

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Guest naneek

i found the info on harry on the church of the latterday saints reserch centre

it has the biggest birth deaths ect in the world it runs into millions of names so far

i have found over 8 hundred names of ancestors that i am related to and its getting

bigger every day so if any body needs a search to be done i am willing to do some

i have also looked on the 1901 census and cannot find harry on there .the only thing i can come up with is that he was not in the uk at the time of the 1901 census

will still do some more searching

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Stevew - yes, first names can be a minefield. You find no end of people who were never called by their real name. There must have been many soldiers who gave the name they were known by although their real name was something else, and also soldiers who gave a real first name even though no-one ever used it!

As the Army records give "Harry" as the first name I assume that's the name he gave when he enlisted, and I was hoping to have one last try to confirm his existence under that name before widening the search.

Naneek - thanks for letting me know where you got your information from, and for the searching you've done.

Tom

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