Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chailey's Second Loss - Charles Wood KiA 1914

Charles Joseph Wood was killed in action this day 92 years ago. He was Chailey's second fatality of the war although his death wasn't officially confirmed until a number of years later.

Charles was born in Chailey in 1889, his birth registered at Lewes in the June quarter of that year. He appears on the 1891 census of England and Wales as a one year old infant living at Woodlands Cottage, North Common, Chailey. The family comprised: Edward Wood (aged 30, a farm labourer), his wife Mary Wood (aged 29) and their three sons: Edward (aged five), George Wood (aged four) and Charles. The parents had been born at Fletching but all three boys were born in Chailey.

By the time the 1901 census was taken, the family had grown by one – Harry Wood (aged seven). Mary Wood does not appear at the family’s address (a farm address in Chailey – unclear on the census) but Edward Wood is still noted as being married rather than a widower. Curiously though, his age is noted as 45 rather than 40.

Chailey Parish Magazine notes Charles Wood in October 1914 as serving his King and Country. In October 1915 it gives more information: Wood, Pte C, 2nd KOYLI, France. In actual fact, by the time this information appeared, Charles Wood had already been dead for nearly a year. He was killed in action on 31st October 1914.

British Battalions in France and Belgium 1914 notes that at the time of his death the 2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, "... Moved to Neuve Eglise (31st) then in buses to Messines. Took part in assault on enemy trenches east of the village. Attack held up by machine guns from western end and Battalion forced to dig in under heavy fire. Casualties 155 including Captain J E Simpson killed.”

Soldiers Died in the Great War states that Charles Wood (born in Chailey, Lewes), enlisted at Woolwich. His army service number was 9392 and indicates that he enlisted as a regular soldier a good while before the First World War started; possibly around 1905/1906. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in France. Chailey Parish Magazine reported him missing between May 1916 and April 1918, only adding him to its roll of honour in May 1918 after which point in time he must have been presumed dead. The parish magazine gives his date of death (incorrectly) as September 16th 1914.

Charles Wood’s brothers George Wood and Harry Wood also served their King and Country during the First World War. Like Charles, Harry Wood also served with The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, initially with the 2nd battalion but latterly with the 1st, and it seems likely that he too was a regular soldier before the outbreak of war. Their brother George was also a career serviceman having joined the Royal Navy in 1904.

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