Arthur Edward Wood MM, Sergeant 15/1008, 1st Leeds Pals
‘AEW’ – probably Arthur Edward Wood
There is a tendency to assume that when a soldier receives a gallantry award it has been given for attacking the enemy, or beating off his attack on you (cf. Arthur Binns). But Arthur Wood received his for just doing his job – though there was, of course, rather more to it than just that.
Arthur Edward Wood was the only child, at least up to 1911, of Arthur Wood, a plumber, and Annie Barnes, who had married in Leeds on 25th October 1893, when both were living in Herbert Terrace, Sheepscar. He was born in April 1894, possibly in Chapeltown, and by 1901 the family was living in Bagby Terrace, Sheepscar. Ten years later they had moved to Matlock Terrace, and Arthur was now a clerk at an engineering works.
In August 1914 war was declared, and Arthur being 20, on 4th September he volunteered for the Leeds Pals. Ten days later he was attested and accepted. He went with the other recruits to Colsterdale for his training, then to Ripon and finally to Fovant in Wiltshire, by which time he had been promoted to corporal. After his training he was posted to Headquarters Company, as a signaller.
‘AEW’ and his squad in 1915
In December of 1915 the battalion sailed for Egypt, arriving on 22nd and remaining until March the following year. Their job was to guard the Suez Canal against a possible attack by the Turks. This fortunately never materialised, and so in March they were sent to France to prepare for the Big Push, which became the Battle of the Somme. Arthur’s service records are missing so we cannot be certain that he took part in that battle, particularly if he was still in HQ Company, but at some point he was moved to B Company, possibly when he was promoted to sergeant, though he kept his job as a signaller. It was in this capacity that he was mentioned in the Battalion War Diary, the first named and possibly therefore in charge, in a group of six men, four NCOs and two privates, who were awarded the Military Medal. On 10th December 1917 this group were paraded before the Corps Commander, for the presentation of the medals, in recognition of their
devotion to duty in repairing telephone lines under most dangerous conditions, during heavy hostile bombardment and gas shelling.
Repairing telephone lines, which were frequently broken by shelling, was normally quite a dangerous job, requiring the signaller to crawl along the wire, often above ground, until he found the break, and then repair it. There could be more than one break, in which case he had to carry on until the line was working again. All this suggest that this particular job was something more than just the normal mending of a break.
It may have been during this action that Arthur was wounded, though more likely it was the following March or April, when the Germans mounted their final attack of the war. On 15th April 1918 he died of his wounds, age 24, and is buried in Mendingham Military Cemetery, Belgium. On his gravestone his parents had inscribed
IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR AND ONLY SON THEY IN PARADISE DO REST R.I.P.
Ancestry – Census records, Medal Index Card, baptismal records, register of effects
Free BMD – Marriage records
CWGC – details of death and burial
15th Batt. War Diary – details of MM award
Researcher: Peter Taylor
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
- Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.