Private 12661 Benjamin Wood

Died of Wounds on Tuesday, 15th February 1916, age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 35 and 37 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

8th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 51st Brigade of 17th Division.

Brother of Mr Job Wood, 97 Leabrook Road, Wednesbury, Staffs. Son of the late Richard Wood and the late Mary Wood.
Born: Ocker Hill, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 3rd September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/911733/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
34 The Coppice, Tipton, Staffs.
Richard Wood (30, Labourer, born Wolverhampton), his wife Mary (28, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Job Edward (4, born Tipton), Sarah (3, born Tipton) and Benjamin (8 months, born Tipton).

1901 Census
Court 3 House 11, Leabrook Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Richard Wood (40, Widower, General Labourer, born Wolverhampton), Job E. (14, born Tipton) Sarah (13, born Tipton) Benjamin (11, born Tipton) and Samuel J. (7, born Tipton).

1911 Census
12 Lawrence Street, Sandiacre, Derbyshire.
Living in the house of Job Wood, his Uncle: Benjamin Richard Wood (22, Ballast Train, born Ocker Hill).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The 8th Battalion South Staffs was in 51st Brigade of 17th (Northern) Division. In early February 1916, the 17th Division returned to the front near St. Eloi, along the line south of the Ypres-Comines canal and railway. It included some captured ground on the north bank of the canal called The Bluff, this was higher as the material from the excavation of the canal had been built up. The area had been relatively quiet but the Germans now became very active. This included some heavy shelling, including gas, and mining.

In the afternoon of 14th February German infantry successfully attacked the British units holding The Bluff after a very heavy bombardment with shells and trench mortars, and blowing some mines. On the afternoon of the 14th, 51st Brigade held the left front including The Bluff. Half its men were in the trenches and the other half were held in reserve. On 15th February German artillery and rifle fire continued throughout the day. On 16th February a British counter-attack at 05.40am failed, it was March before The Bluff was re-taken.

Benjamin Wood is recorded as dying from wounds on 15th February. It is possible that he could have been wounded on the 14th or 15th, both of which were trying days for the 8th South Staffs. It wasn't until 2nd September 1916 that his death was confirmed to his brother, Job Wood, over 6 months after he became missing. Benjamin has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

If you require further detail:
War Diary 8th South Staffs

14th February
Bombardment by the enemy increased all day.
06.00 pm. 2 mines exploded by enemy. All communication to Companies gone.
06.15 pm. Enemy advancing against 'B' Company. 'A' Company has very severe casualties. Lt Porter reported killed.
07.15 pm. The Commanding Officer returns wounded.
07.30 pm. A slight lull, wounded evacuated.
08-11 pm. Enemy consolidating. Reported to have taken from right half of Trench 33 to Trench 29 inclusive, including The Bluff.
11.45 pm. Intense enemy bombardment.

February 15th
00.15 am. Heavy machine gun fire and rifle fire opened on our trenches.
00.35 am. Two orderlies despatched to firing line for news.
08.25 am. Estimated casualties 6 officers and 112 other ranks. Rest of the day very quiet. That evening British bombardment and counter-attack.

February 16th
12.05 am. The Dressing Station obtained a direct hit from an 8 inch shell. About 12 men, Lt. B.B. Gough and Lt. T.Y. Birrel killed. Orderly sent for another doctor and stretcher bearers.
03.30am. Final plans made for assault on enemy's stop when moon goes down.
05.40am. Attack on enemy stop launched under 2nd Lt. Elliott with 12 bombers and 7 bayonet men.
07.00am. Capt Smith reports attack failed. Attack was within an ace of succeeding but bombers were no close enough to 2nd Lt. Elliott to support him.

Battalion relieved by 7th BORDERS Regiment. Relief completed by 10.20pm.
Casualties: 4 Officers, 40 Other Ranks.

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