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Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner: Case #1 - Buried by Germans 13-4-18 (Wood)


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This is a child topic of: Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy


The quote below has been removed from that topic and is redirected to this post. Additional research details can now be added.


  • :poppy:COG-BR 2007608: they should have investigated this one further as it only took a few minutes to find "Wood" buried by the Germans 13 April 1918


For future reference and reporting, here are the ICRC page links:

Edited by laughton
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The COG-BR for this case indicates the remains were buried in Plot 7 Row H Grave 39, recovered at 36.S.14.b.3.1 which is south of Richebourg, southwest of Neuve Chapelle, and due north of Festubert. The grave was marked with a cross. There were no regimental details noted from the cross or exhumation.


The file at the ICRC says that he died of wounds (Infolge verwundung) on 13 April 1918 at the Casualty Station at Richebourg. His name appears on the German Death List (Totenlisten - PA 34005). The CWGC shows his death as 12 April 1918, remembered on the Loos Memorial.


He was serving with the 1st/5th Bn of the King's (Liverpool Regiment). According to the LLT that places him in 165th Brigade of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Details start here (war diary page 326 of 615). In early April the battalion was in Brigade Reserve at Gorre (36b.F.3.b). They moved up to the Festubert sector on the 4th of the month, where they were providing working parties for at Cailloux Keep (near Brewery Corner 36.S.25.b.8.7). On 9 April 1918 the Germans bombed their line heavily (war diary page 328 of 615) and attacked early in the evening, resulting in two companies missing and a platoon of "A" Coy (if I read it correctly?). The bombardment and attack was repeated on the 10th and 11th, until relieved at 7am on the 12th. It would have to be during this period that Serjeant Wood was wounded, disappeared and was taken by the Germans. There are no additional details or casualty lists.


There is no question, Serjeant Wood was in the area where the remains were recovered. The cross that was recovered had the name and the date of death.




Area Map


Trench Map



There are five (5) men with the name WOOD on the Loos Memorial for April 1918 (CWGC Link). Harry has already been checked, but not the others. So far only our candidate Harold John Wood is in the running. Harry was out as he was not buried by the Germans but I have not found a way to locate the war diary.


surname forename death rank regiment unit # research notes
WOOD HAROLD JOHN 12/4/1918 Serjeant The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 1st/5th Bn. '307372' German buried in the immediate area
WOOD HARRY 11/4/1918 Private South Lancashire Regiment 1st/4th Bn. '27768' no idea yet as to war diary??
WOOD REGINALD JOHN 22/04/1918 Private Somerset Light Infantry 1st Bn. '40691' Pont l'Hinges 36a.W.4
WOOD WILLIAM LEES 18/04/1918 Private Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) 2nd Bn. '20121' Bois Moyen 36a J.34
WOOD WILLIAM NAPIER 9/4/1918 Private Seaforth Highlanders 6th Bn. 'S/24938' la Miquellerie 36a.O.30


Edited by laughton
updating details in stages
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Still trying to located the war diaries of the 1st/4th South Lancashire Regiment.


LLT says (55th West Lancashire Division) "1/4th Bn, the South Lancashire Regiment joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn January 1916". The Divisional Headquarters were at Les Caudrons (war diary page 206 of 879) which is 36a.W.1 which is about 2,000 yards east of Hinges. That is where they moved to on the 10th April 1918. I note that is around the area where Private Wood was with the Somerset Light Infantry, in the list above. They then went to Oblinghem on the 11th, which is 36a.W.21..There is a reference to the 1/4th South Lancashire Regiment moving to Burbure on the 15th 36a.U.27, which is due south of Lillers. In general, that places the Pioneers about 9,500 yards west of Festubert at the closest position. Of interest, the 55th Division war diary for that month has a GERMAN TRENCH MAP (Karte der 6 Armee Stand vom 3.3.18) (war diary page 213 of 879), something I have never seen before. Les Caudrons is shown on the far right of the map above Bethune. Problem is, I don't know what all the blue letters and lines refer to on the map! It must have been a captured map, as on the reverse it says, in english "Possibly very useful - shews what appears to be objective". Next we have a Narrative of Events from 9th to 16th of April (war diary page 216 of 879).

  • on the 9th, holding the front for the La Bassee Canal toi Quinque Road, just north of Canadian Orchard
  • the 164th Brigade was on the right north of Givenchy and the 165th of the left, including Festuber (so that puts them in the area!)
  • appears there was a heavy bombardment on the morning of the 9th, reminiscent of what we read for Operation Michael on March 21st
  • the enemy had made it far enough to occupy Windy Corner 36c.A.3 to the west of Givenchy
  • direct reference to the 1/4th South Lancs in the action which had been placed under the command of the 166th Brigade (war diary page 218 of 879)
  • they are in the area of Cailloux Keep 36.S.25.b, just north of Festubert
  • the following day, 10 April 1918, the enemy made a very heavy attack at 7:40am and lighter attacks on Cailloux and Festubert
  • on the afternoon of 11 April 1918 the enemy attacked again, resulting in the capture of both Festubert East Keep and Cailloux Keep (war diary page 220 of 879)
  • there was an immediate local counter attack and the line was restored

The maps that follow the narrative show the position of the 1/4th South Lancashire Regiment just south of Locon and the 166th Brigade HQ on 9 April 1918 (war diary page 221 of 879). That map also shows where Serjeant Wood was with the 1/5th King's Liverpool Regiment. Did not notice previously, they were in the 165th (Liverpool) Brigade of the 55th Division, tying Serjeant Wood and Private Wood to the same action. The big difference being that we know Serjeant Wood was wounded and buried by the Germans. If we take "A" Coy (noted in ICRC documents) to be "1" Coy (war diary map) then Serjeant Wood was 1,5000 yards east of Cailloux Keep, the divisional boundary.


The area north of the 55th Division was held by the Portuguese - learn something new every day! (see here on Wiki) Appears they were an integral part of the Battle of Lys on 9 April 1918 and directly referenced to the 55th Division.


This all comes together on the next map (war diary page 222 of 879) where it shows the positions held by the 1/4th South Lancashire Regiment (36a.X.9) in the front of the 1st Bn Portuguese. The positions map of 10 April 1918 (war diary page 236 of 879) shows the 1/4th South Lancashire Regiment at 36.X.9 to the southwest of Lacouture and Richebourg. That places them 4,500 yards northwest of where the remains were recovered, so most certainly in the area where they may have buried Private Wood. The 1/4th South Lancs did not move from this area, as shown on the map for midnight of the 11th/12th April 1918 (war diary page 232 of 879). At the same time, Sergeant Wood of the 1/5th K.L.R. is 4,000 yards further east-southeast at 36.S.20, much closer to where the remains were recovered.


There are several variations of the Narrative of Events for this period that follow the maps, with numerous handwritten changes to the typed text. See also some additional details on the results of the operations and counter attacks (i.e. war diary page 254 of 879). Following these are a number of narratives for the individual units.


If were ever looking for the January 1918 war diary, that follows April 1918! That is followed by February so these may be different for General Staff. The list goes on and on, see even the Narrative of Operations General Staff 9th to 17th April 1918 (war diary page 730 of 879). The 165th Brigade Narrative follows (war diary page 765 of 879). An incredible amount of detail here for anyone studying the Battle of Lys - something completely unknown to a Canadian!


A lot here, will return later to review and fix typos.

Edited by laughton
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Still trying to located the war diaries of the 1st/4th South Lancashire Regiment.

This any good from TheNationalArchives?



Edited by Jrmh
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Yes, those are the war diaries, but I pay to have access to them on ANCE$TRY so I try to find them there, but often they are well hidden. In the end, I got what I needed (actually war more) from the 55th Division war diaries.


Thanks for the input - always appreciated!

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The April Offensive (Battle of the Lys)


The next phase of the German offensive started on 9th April with an attack further north near the River Lys, where the main weight of the assault fell on a Portuguese division, which collapsed. The enemy poured into the gap, attacking the exposed flanks and rear areas of divisions to the north and south. The situation was critical, prompting Field Marshal Haig on 11th April to issue a stark Order of the Day:


‘There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end.’


Again the Germans made gains, but after a great effort they were held short of their Hazebrouck objective. Nine battalions of our Lancashire predecessors were involved in stemming this offensive.


The 31st Division, including 11th East Lancashires raced north to fill the gap behind the Portuguese sector, and fought the enemy to a standstill in three days of incessant fighting to defend Hazebrouck. The 11th Battalion played a notable part in this successful defensive battle, in particular by a stubborn stand on 13th April when they held their ground in the face of three direct assaults at the cost of another 240 casualties.




The 55th Division, which included the 1/4th and 5th South Lancashires and the 1/4th Loyal North Lancashires, was in the line between Givenchy and Festubert when the Portuguese to their north collapsed, but the West Lancashire men held their positions on the southern flank of the assault with splendid valour and tenacity and refused to give ground. In this, their most famous action, the 55th Division fully sustained their hard-won reputation as an elite division. It was perhaps the finest Territorial Division action of the war. Nearby, the 1st Loyals were involved towards the end of the offensive when on 18th April they counter-attacked to restore the 1st Division main line.


On the northern flank of the breakthrough the 34th Division, including 1st East Lancashires, was outflanked by the Portuguese collapse and fell back through Armentières to occupy a succession of blocking positions around Bailleul. A brigade of the 25th Division, including 9th Loyals, moved south to assist the 34th and 40th Divisions, and the Loyals counter-attacked at Croix du Bac on April 10th, near Bailleul on the 13th and at Kemmel on the 25th. A few miles to the east, the 2nd South Lancashires were in action on the 10th at Ploegsteert, and next day also moved south to beat off two attacks at Neuve Eglise. On the 12th, and again on the 13th, the Battalion was forced back to the Ravelsberg where, after another day’s severe fighting the survivors were relieved on the night of the 14th. Losses in the April offensive were again terrible: 662 for the 2nd South Lancashires and 821 for 9th Loyals; but, remarkably, morale remained high.



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I checked the ICRC records for the other WOOD men on the list.


Private William Napier Wood #24938 "D" Coy Seaforth Highlanders had a record but it was the standard "negatif envoye" on 16 August 1918. It reported him missing 9th to 12th April 1918. There were no "P" or "PA" files.


file front side


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Thanks Reg! I knew I had found the Divisional Troops with the Pioneer Battalions in the past, I just could not remember how. Silly me, I should have looked under "V" for various not "D" for divisional! It will be even more embarrassing the next time I forget!


Now thanks to Reg, we can add to the details for the 1st/4th South Lancashire Regiment (Pioneers). I have added the TMC and the (location descriptions) to their information.


On 8 April 1918 they are at Le Preol 36b.F.10 (9,000 yards due east of Bethune). The different companies are working at a number of locations at Windy Corner, Festubert, Le Plantin, Loisne, Pont Fixe, Locon and Essars (war diary page 338 of 1018). The heavy shelling of Locon 36a.X.7 started at 4am on 9 April 1918, which meant the companies did not move out to the work areas. The Pioneer Battalion is now actively engaged with the enemy and was joined by three sections of the Royal Engineers. A large group was at the defences at Gorre Wood 36a.X.27. There are details of the actions as well as the names of Officer Casualties and numeric summaries of OR casualties at various periods during the day (war diary page 340 of 1018).


On 11 April 1918, the day that Private Harry Wood is reported killed, the war diary reports a strong enemy attack at 10:40am on the H.Q. and A & D Coys at Mesplaux 36a.X.14 (War diary page 341 of 1018). C Coy and the others at Gorre Wood are reported heavily shelled. Captains Armstrong and Walsh are killed, however their remains were not knowingly recovered and they too are on the Loos Memorial. Eighteen (18) ORs are known killed and many were missing. Their location, which agrees with what is marked on the Divisional Maps, places these men at least 6,500 yards west of where the remains (buried by the Germans) were recovered.


The Pioneer Battalion also has a map of their location on 11 April 1918, which depicts exactly where they were at 10:4 0am that morning and where they were driven back to their final position at Mesplaux (war diary page 347 of 1018). That map is followed by a detailed (typed) narrative of the actions from the 9th to 15th of April 1918 for several of the units.

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You're welcome Richard.  I usually have a terrible time with Ancestry's referencing.  However, to rub salt into your wounds I merely did the usual and in this case put 2917/1 into the keywords bit and, on checking the first of the returns, it opened at 1/4 South Lancs in Nov 1917.  Fortunately it also covered the dates you were interested in.


I have no doubt my next attempt will result in the usual failures/frustrations etc.





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In the event that this is important, I noticed a number of cemeteries in that area when I was working on the White Cross Touring Atlas Project.


In particular, this one caught my eye!

Rue du Bois No. 2 (King's Liverpool) Cemetery, Richebourg l'Avoue




E 10



Index Pg



Take a look at the other ones in this area, as it may help identify a number of the other unknown. I don't recall seeing it on the list of the concentrated cemeteries, but it may be identifiable from the location.


I will need to get the INDEX finished, then I can look up the numbers: 536, 537, 1427, 1417, 573 etc.




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  • 4 weeks later...

Just to update this case to the current status:

  1. The INDEX to the White Cross Touring Atlas was finished and can be found here:
  2. A report was submitted to the CWGC for the identification of the remains:

A case does not come to a conclusion with the submission of a report. The review process must be initiated and members are welcome to add comments, additional information or challenge the findings at any stage of the process.


As the review progresses, the case is updated on the blog at Categories of the UNKNOWN Cases.

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  • 9 months later...

Amazing work laughton you deserve a medal, I was after some war diaries and since the NA is offering free downloads thought it a good time to do some research on some of the memorial plaques I have, one being "Harold John Woods" it would be something special if you could give this man an actual marked grave & maybe a place for one of his relatives to visit. 


Cheers Rich

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4 hours ago, madraf said:

Amazing work laughton you deserve a medal, I was after some war diaries and since the NA is offering free downloads thought it a good time to do some research on some of the memorial plaques I have, one being "Harold John Woods" it would be something special if you could give this man an actual marked grave & maybe a place for one of his relatives to visit. 


Cheers Rich



I don’t know if you are aware that Richard, sadly passed away last year 



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Oh no, I had no idea, my sincere condolences to his family & friends, To be honest I didn't even notice the original post was a year old until after I replied.

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