Henry WOOD
Rank: Private
Number: 26354
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 19 September 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon, Aisne , France

William and Ann Wood had two daughters and three sons. The three men would all serve in the forces. By the time Henry was killed, Joseph had been wounded and discharged from the army. And, only days after they received the news about Henry, the War Office was in touch again to say that the youngest, George, had been wounded (and later posted as missing).

In 1901, when the Census was taken, the family was living at 54 Mount Pleasant, Hazel Grove (and Mr Wood was later recorded as being at 11 Neville Street). Henry enlisted into the army at Stockport, originally joining a Territorial Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. This was probably Stockport's local unit, the 6th Battalion, and his service number, 4614, suggests that he enlisted in mid-late 1915, going overseas in January 1916.

He is known to have been wounded at some point and it was probably when he had recovered from this that he was transferred to the Shropshires. The Army will have decided that they were more in need of replacement troops at the time.

Henry was killed during what has become known as the "Hundred Days" which were the final Allied advances which brought an end to the War. On 16th September, British troops had attacked towards the village of Holnon (to the west of the French town of St Quentin), but had failed to capture the village. The ground between the British forces and the village was so drenched with gas shells and cut up by trenches and defensive works that it was decided to detour around to make another assault.

This attack went in at 5.20am on the 18th, with the Shropshires advancing as part of the second wave. The Regimental History records "The night was very dark with heavy rain and in the morning a thick mist obscured all landmarks. The entire brigade became hopelessly mixed. An advance of 3000 yards was made, but the attack failed to establish itself in Fresnoy-le-Petit which was very strongly held."

At 1.30am, orders were received to renew the attack on Fresnoy. Earlier, the Battalion had quickly dug-in for cover wherever it could and it was difficult to circulate the orders to the men. However, everything was ready and the attack was launched at 5.30am. "C" Company, on the right, was unable to make any significant progress as it came under very heavy fire. On the left, "B" Company fought its way into Fresnoy. Runners were sent back with orders to send forward the supporting companies but they must have all been killed as none reached Battalion headquarters. "All officers became casualties and the Company, in isolated posts, remained in the village, cut off from the Battalion, and resisted throughout the day all attempts to surround and capture them." At dusk, the survivors managed to make their way back to join "D" Company in the Battalion's main line.

During the two days, the Battalion had suffered 176 casualties - dead, wounded or missing.

Further information about Henry, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" by John Eaton

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