Lance Corporal Alfred William Woods

Regiment:  East Kent, 1st Battalion, 6th Division. Formerly Royal Sussex
Service No: G/12968
Date & place of birth: 19 November 1894 (baptism date), Petworth
Date & place of death: 27 June 1917, Western Front

We have found more war records for Lance Corporal Alfred Woods than most other servicemen, including some rather confusing entries.

Family background

Alfred Woods was born and baptised in Petworth, the son of Frank and Sarah Woods of Bowling Green, Angel Street, Petworth. (The current bowling green is still situated nearby, in Sheepdown Drive.) Sarah had been married before, so Alfred had step-brothers Fred and John Miles, and full brother Frank, as well as sisters Emma Ellen, Nellie, Annie and Mary. By 1911 three of Sarah’s children had died; John, Mary and Annie are mentioned in the war records. Frank Woods Senior had been variously a dairyman, labourer and general labourer. In 1911 Alfred was described as an unemployed general labourer living at home; by this time the family were in North End Cottage, North Street.

Military career

Lance Corporal Woods enlisted to the Royal Sussex in Petworth, but at some time transferred to the East Kent (known as The Buffs.) He may well have joined up early in the war, as he was unemployed before it and had time to get promotion to Lance Corporal. His battalion had been involved in the Western Front since the very start of the war. In 1917 they took part in the Battle of Hill 70 and the Cambrai operations.

Death & commemoration

Lance Corporal Alfred William Woods was killed in action on the Western Front on 27 June 1917, aged 22. He is buried in the Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe. His war record suggests he had suffered from dysentery for some time; whether he recovered from that and was returned to the Front is not clear.

His army record contains an instruction to send his medal and effects to his parents, along with a note saying that there were no medals and no effects (this was dated 10.11.19.) Another note shows the Army had sent to his father in 1918 “letters, photos, 2 notebooks, greetings card, envelope, 2 pocket wallets and cloth badge.” Then in 1919 the Plaque and Commemoration scroll were sent to his parents, but the British War and Victory medal were not sent to his father until 1921, long after most relatives received theirs.

His allotment of pay 3s 6d was sent to Miss AM Orchard of Pound Street; the relationship to him was recorded as “not stated.”

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project