Harold Wood, known as Harry, was born in Rochdale in either 1887 or 1888. His parents were Henry & Sarah. Henry had been born in Bolton whilst Sarah was a Rochdale native. Henry & Sarah had 11 children, 8 of whom survived infancy. Harry was the eldest of the eight; his younger siblings
being Eva, Walter, Emma, Henry, James, Elizabeth & Lilian. Harry worked in the paper industry, when still living with his parents at 5 Red Lane in Rochdale at the time of the 1911 census he is listed as a paper mill labourer. This was probably at Messrs Makin & Sons paper mill on Milnrow Road which is where he was working at the time of his enlistment.
The following year Harry married Elizabeth Green, a Royton girl, at Thornham St John's on September 21st 1912. At first Harry & Elizabeth lived together in Rochdale and there their daughter Florence was born in 1913. At some point after that the family moved to Royton and their son Harold was born there in 1916. Harry joined the army in late 1915 so it's possible that he had done so as a resident of Rochdale and his wife moved afterwards to be closer to her family.
Harry became a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers and was sent out for active service in late spring/early summer of 1916. The battalion he was sent out to was the 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers who pre-war had been Bury's Territorial Army unit. They had suffered terrible casualties in the fighting at
Gallipoli and Harry was one of the many sent out to join them in Egypt as they came back up to strength.
The 1st/5th Battalion spent 14 months in Egypt - training, manning defences and making new defence works in case of a Turkish attack towards the Suez Canal. Working building defence works out to the east of the canal was hard going - the fine sand was not easy to hold in position and it was often oppressively hot. In June 1916 the Battalion, along with the 1st/6th Lancashire Fusiliers (Rochdale's Territorials) took over a post named Ballybunion in the desert about six miles east of the canal. The following month news reached the British that a large Turkish force led by German officers was advancing across the Sinai Desert. A mobile column was formed to meet the enemy head on before they reached the actual British defence line. The 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers were part of this force. Camels were to be used for carrying stores, ammunition and water and the men's kits were reduced to a minimum. The Turks were subsequently defeated at the Battle of Romani. The men of the 1st/5th were part of the reserve force and although they could clearly hear the sound of battle they were not called upon as the Turks were soundly routed.
As the British advanced onwards the 1st/5th LF were put to work working on the defences at Romani and nearby Kantara. For the next three months this was to be their allotted task, along with spells of training and rest breaks by the seaside at Mahamdiya. In November 1916 the men of Harry Wood's battalion formed part of the outpost troops protecting the railway that the British were building out towards the front.
At the end of November the troops moved back towards the Suez Canal for more outpost duties.
Their time in Egypt came to a close in February 1917 when they were sent to France. At 07:50 on February 24th the ship carrying the 1st/5th and 1st/6th Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers was narrowly missed by a torpedo fired by an enemy submarine.
After disembarking at Marseilles, the men went by train to near Amiens and then moved forward to the new line north east of Peronne. Once acclimatised to their new surroundings the 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers spent the greater part of the summer of 1917 opposite the Hindenburg Line near to the extreme right of the British line where the French sector began.
Towards the end of August though they moved up to Ypres, taking their place in the line near Frezenberg. The new British front line in the area was deemed to be in reality an outpost line and not satisfactory as a base for further operations on a large scale so plans were put in place for an attack to be launched with a view to obtaining a better line. Several divisions were to take part and the 125th Infantry Brigade, of which the 1st/5th LF were one of the four battalions, were to capture Borry Farm, Beck House and Iberian Farm, to the north east of Frezenberg.
The attack was ordered for September 6th and the Brigade's attacking units were to be the 1st/5th and 1st/6th Lancashire Fusiliers. The men of these two sister battalion's were to suffer terribly in what was to come. On the night of the 5th/6th September the men of Harry Wood's unit dug an assembly trench which was then occupied by C & D Companies who were to be the first men of the Battalion to go over the top. At 07:15 in the morning a heavy bombardment was opened on the objectives and then fifteen minutes later the men went forward.
The men of the C & D Companies, with A & B in support, went ahead under cover of a creeping barrage from the British artillery but were met at once by heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the Germans dug in at a position called Vampire Farm, south east of Borry Farm. After going only 150 yards the attack faltered under the withering fire. To the Battalion's left, the men of the 1st/6th Lancashire Fusiliers managed to capture Beck House but suffered terrible casualties attacking Iberian Farm. As the British efforts lulled then came a German counter attack at about 10:45 with some three companies pitched at the Lancastrians. The German infantry suffered heavy casualties themselves but managed to wrestle control of Beck House back from the 1st/6th Battalion and push back the men in front of Iberian Farm. This collapse of their neighbouring battalion left the flank of the 1st/5th completely exposed, a further German attack at 19:30 pushed this point home. In spite of further heavy losses on the German attackers they threatened to complete envelop the Battalion and there was no other choice but to fall back.
The net result of the day's fighting had been the gain of 150 yards on the 1st/5th's right which then tapered down until it joined the original front line at the centre of the attack. The price for this paltry gain was a dear one. The 1st/5th lost 7 officers and nearly 500 men and the 1st/6th lost the whole of 1 and a half companies with the remainder suffering heavy casualties themselves. One of those killed was Harry Wood.
Harry's wife Elizabeth received the official notification of his death in early October. At that time she was living at 1 Thorpe with their two young children. Elizabeth remarried at St Paul's Church in 1919 to Harold Ainscough. The two of them along with Florence & Harold junior were living together in Oldham at 44 Brompton Street in 1939. Elizabeth remained there until her death in 1954, aged 66, and is buried at Greenacres Cemetery. Alongside her is her daughter with Harry Wood, Florence who died in 1985 and her second husband Harold Ainscough.
Harry Wood was one of the many men who unfortunately fell through the cracks after the war and was for many years unlisted as being one of the war dead. In recent years this has been rectified and his name has been added to the Tyne Cot Memorial.
The men of Harry's battalion who were killed alongside him were:
ARCHER ERNEST Private 40355 from Essex
BEDFORD CHARLES Private 202870 born Workington,enlisted Leeds
BERRY JOHN 20 Private 203934 from Darwen
BIRCH HAROLD Private 203826 from Salford
BISHOP CHARLES 19 Private 242305 from Liverpool
BOOTH HENRY Serjeant 200467 enlisted Bury
BRENNAN JAMES Corporal 235518 born Tipperary,enlisted Liverpool
BROOKS WILLIAM Corporal 200548 enlisted Bury
BROWN HENRY Private 235505 from Gateshead
BUCKIE JOHN Private 235504 from Newcastle
BUTTERWORTH ERNEST 39 Private 202827 from Rochdale
BUTTERWORTH JACK Corporal 200127 from Bury
BUTTERWORTH WALKER 24 Private 201600 from Heywood
BUTTERWORTH JOHN 33 Private 201415 from Bury
CARRUTHERS JAMES 26 Private 235506 from Newcastle
CHADWICK JAMES 38 CSM 200522 from Bury
CLIFFORD HERBERT 22 Private 200314 born West Bromwich,enlisted Bury
COLLINGS WILLIAM 44 Private 202269 (Served as THOMAS). From Liverpool
COMPSTON THOMAS Corporal 202177 enlisted Leigh
COOPER ALBERT 22 Private 40360 from Luton
COWLEY JAMES 30 Private 202777 from Bury
CRABTREE WILLIAM Private 203416 from Rochdale
CROWTHER WILFRED Private 203290 from Rochdale
CURRAN JAMES Private 202307 born Tunstall,enlisted Wigan
CURRAN THOMAS Private 40408 born Liverpool,enlisted Manchester
DAVIDSON THOMAS 24 Private 235489 from Berwick-on-Tweed
DUXBURY WILLIAM 38 Private 202797 from Rochdale
ENTWISTLE DIXON Private 235465 enlisted Crawshawbooth
FOXCROFT ARTHUR 24 Private 202201 from Bury
FRITH CHARLES 29 Private 203464 born Droylsden,lived Birmingham
GARNER GEORGE Private 40392 from Wisbech
GARNER WILLIAM 39 Private 243275 from London
GIBBONS CECIL Private 202836 born Whitefield,enlisted Bury
GREEN TOM 25 Private 235467 from Haslingden
GRIMSHAW ROBERT 21 Private 203958 from Blackburn
HALL FRED 20 Lance Corporal 200477 from Heywood
HALL FRED 19 Private 202852 from Rochdale
HARDMAN JAMES Private 201731 from Bury
HEARST ALEXANDER 24 Private 235502 from Newcastle
HEYES WILLIAM 20 Lance Serjeant 200207 from Bury
HODGSON JAMES 20 Private 307068 from Keswick
HOLDEN WILLIAM Private 203916 born Darwen,enlisted Blackburn
HORGAN CORNELIUS Corporal 202885 from County Cork
JEFFRIES ARTHUR 22 Private 200105 from Heywood
JONES HERBERT 42 Private 31002 from Manchester
KIRK JOHN 25 Private 203439 from Ashton-under-Lyne
LEE GEORGE Private 203446 enlisted Ashton-under-Lyne
LEECH JOSEPH 49 Private 202350 from Newcastle under Lyme
LEWIS WILLIAM Private 203333 from Rochdale
LOWTHER WILLIAM Lance Corporal 201940 enlisted Bury
MAHONEY PERCY Serjeant 202351 born Wrexham,enlisted Morecambe
MAPLEY GEORGE 28 Private 40373 from Newport Pagnell
MERRIMAN THOMAS Private 201624 from Bury
METCALFE MARSDEN Private 235473 from Burnley
MIDGLEY FRANK 21 Private 200158 from Bury
MIGHALL JOSEPH Serjeant 200545 from Bury
MOORE GEORGE 24 Private 40514 from London
MOULT JOHN Private 200365 from Radcliffe
NADIN SAMUEL 35 Private 203479 from Ashton-under-Lyne
NESBITT ROBERT Private 30992 born Macclesfield,enlisted Manchester
NEWTON WILLIAM Private 31032 from Manchester
O'BRIEN JOHN 31 Private 235474 from Accrington
OUSALICE JAMES 20 Private 202886 (Served as JONES). From St Helens
PARKER TOM 22 Private 203419 from Littleborough
PITCHER PERCY 25 Private 40377 from London
POOLE CONRAD 22 Private 307415 from Glamorgan
REGAN FRANCIS 27 Private 202271 from Manchester
ROACH HERBERT Private 201887 from Bury
ROBINSON ROWLAND Private 235477 from Clitheroe
ROWLSTONE EDMUND 25 Private 202900 from Salford
SCHOFIELD JESSE 25 Lance Corporal 201740 from Heywood
SMITH ALFRED 22 Private 282581 from Bury
SMITH JOSEPH 25 Private 40404 from Southend
TODD WILLIAM 27 Private 40507 from Cambridgeshire
TRELOAR HERBERT Lance Corporal 201508 born Radcliffe,enlisted Bury
UNSWORTH FRED 21 Private 200299 from Bury
VARNOM JAMES 21 Private 203350 from Rochdale
WAKES GEORGE Private 201589 from Bury
WALTON THOMAS Private 243271 from Liverpool
WHALLEY JOHN 29 Private 30176 born Ormskirk
WHARTON HUGH Private 202360 from Staffordshire
WILKINSON JOHN Private 200181 from Radcliffe
WILLIAMS ARTHUR 22 Private 202908 from Barnsley
WILSON EDWARD 21 Private 203428 from Ashton-under-Lyne
WOODS JAMES Private 202265 from Liverpool
WROE VERNON Private 200068 from Bury
Date of Death:06/09/1917
Memorial:Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel Ref:Addenda Panel 165