Sergeant Thomas Neal Wood Lincolnshire Regiment

Written by Karen Day
First Published

Introduction

Thomas Wood died on the 26th of September 1915, aged 20 during the Battle of Loos. He was the son of Blacksmith and Farmer William Henry Wood and Elizabeth Wood, of Burton upon Stather, Scunthorpe, Lincs.

Born during at the end of 1894, Thomas appears to be the fourth son and youngest child born into the family, with older siblings Edwin, Hugh, John, Mabel and Grace.

Thomas was still school age in the 1901 census. His father William was born in Thealby and mother Elizabeth born in North Bovey, Devon but by that time were occupying a house and blacksmiths shop in Burton upon Stather where all their children were born. The shop must have been a busy place of work employing two apprentice blacksmiths at that time, 18 year old brother Edwin and 17 year old Joseph Peart who also boarded with the family. Brother Hugh (17) was also of working age and his occupation is recorded as a Marine Engineer.

By 1911 a 16 year old Thomas was also employed (Messenger Apprentice? unclear handwriting on census) and sisters Mabel and Grace were now living at home. Grace employed as a day school teacher. Apart from the head of the family father William the household was also made up of servant May Robinson, Blacksmith Charles Roberts, Walter Holden was a Waggoner on the farm and George Robinson a Farm Boy. May and George born in Scunthorpe, Walter in Somerby with Charles from Kirton Lindsey. His mother Elizabeth does not appear on the census and it is unclear whether or not she had passed away but her mother Mary Browning from Devon was living with the family.

Kitcheners New Army - 8th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment

WWI recruitment poster
WWI recruitment poster.
© IWM (Art.IWM PST 2734)

At the outbreak of war in August 1914 the British regular army was a small professional force consisting of 247,432 regular troops. It was these troops who formed the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) sent to France in August 1914.

Army reservists were called up but still the British Army was under strength. Lord Kitchener began a recruitment drive where a man could serve Short Service either three years or until the war was over which ever came first. Within 2 weeks 100,000 men had been enlisted forming K1. These new regiments were entitled Service Regiments eg. xx th (Service) Battalion xxxxx Regiment. This recruitment continued through to K6, with eventually 2.5 million men volunteering.

The 8th Bn. Lincolnshire Reg. was part of K3 and was formed in Lincoln in September 1914. The Bn. was under command of 63rd Brigade, part of the 21st Division. These battalions of the new army were formed entirely of fresh volunteers with no experience bar the training they received before departing for France. We know that Thomas enlisted with the 8th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in Scunthorpe although the exact date is not clear, his records were some of the many lost through fire due to bombing during the 2nd World War. We do know that his initial rank was Lance Corporal and he later became an Acting Sergeant.

Training and Departure to France

The Ruins of Loos 1915. © IWM (Q 58151)

Training for the 8th Bn. took place initially at Grimsby during August 1914 and moved to Halton Park Camp, near Wendover in Spring 1915. Thomas departed with his regiment for overseas service at Milton Station on the 9th of September 1915, leaving England from Folkstone on the 10th to arrive in Boulogne finally travelling by train to Watten where they were billeted. The Battalion's strength on departing England that day, 10th September 1915, was 28 officers and 995 other ranks just a fortnight before the Battle of Loos.

A long and arduous march starting on the evening of 20/21 September took them on the next part of their journey. The route led them from Watten via Beyenghem, Racquingham, Norrent Fontes, Cauchy, Nieux les Mines, Vermelles, the pit head Fosse 7 and finally beyond Loos. The Brigade's objective was Annay about 1.5 miles beyond the German's second line of defence.

2nd Lieutenant Cragg of the 8th Lincolns described the sight:-

…as we got to the crest-line, now free from obstruction, we could see the countryside slightly, and what a sight met our eyes! Right ahead of us was Loos in flames, this was the glare that puzzled us: the twin towers of the big mine standing out like great oil towers on a burning oil field. To the right and left were the horrors of war.

Major-General Simpson, CR (1931)
The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918
A German trench near Loos September 1915
A German trench near Loos September 1915.
© IWM (Q 28980)

The Battle of Loos is well documented and more can be read online on sites such as firstworldwar.com

Here is a very brief summary concerning Thomas' battalion. After four days artillery defensive, the Battle of Loos began on 25th Sept., the 8th Bn. spent the night preparing trenches. The shallow trenches gave the men a little protection during shelling. The following day saw attack and counter attack taking place which including hand to hand fighting. In the late afternoon the Germans rushed the remaining entrenched and dwindling number of Lincolns. Almost surrounded and under pressure from the German advance the few officers and men who survived withdrew.

All officers of the Battalion were casualties and only four remained. Capt. H. Pattinson being the senior surviving officer assumed command. Aged just 20 he was promoted to the rank of Major.

Remember just two weeks earlier on arrival in France the 8th Lincolns boasted 28 Officers 995 Other Ranks. In their first battle they lost 22 of their 24 officers. 471 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing including our Blacksmiths son Acting Sergeant Thomas Neal Wood who was killed in action on 26th Sept 1915.

Terrible lessons were being learnt and at such high cost. The 8th Lincolns were taken out of the line and into billets to receive replacements and training. They did periods of work on trench defences and periodical tours of the trenches and formed working parties.

Any further information regarding Thomas Neal Wood would be gratefully received please Email FTAO Karen.

Record Details for Thomas Neal Wood

First Names:Thomas Neal
Initials:T. N.
Surname:Wood
DOB:Circa
Age:20
Birthplace:Burton upon Stather
Nationality:British
Resided:Burton upon Stather
Death Date:
Family Info:Son of William H. and Elizabeth Wood, of Burton-on-Stather, Scunthorpe, Lincs.
Rank:Sergeant
Service Number:11772
Service:British Army
Regiment:Lincolnshire Regiment
Battalion:8th Battalion
Commemorated:Loos Memorial - Panel 31 to 34. Map
Place of Death:The Battle of Loos.
Awards:

Map

Use the interactive map to view the location of Thomas Neal Wood's Memorial. You can view all the graves, memorials and benches by downloading our KML file which can be viewed in Google Earth and other mapping software.

Sources

  1. UK Census, Birth, Marriage & Deaths
  2. Wikipedia - Kitchener's Army
  3. 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Reg. War Diary
  4. The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918 - Major-General Simpson, CR (1931)
  5. Medal Index Roll

Remembered with Honour.

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