Private 33321 Walter Allison Woodruff

Killed in Action on Thursday, 16th August 1917, age 31.
Commemorated on Panel 96 to 98 of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

’C’ Company of 1st/4th Bn., Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. 145th Brigade of 48th Division.
Formerly 3067 Queen's Own Oxford Hussars.

Son of the late William and Sarah Woodruff, of Middle Barton, Oxford.
Born: Middle Barton, Oxon, Enlisted: Oxford, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: 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/875730/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Walter Allison Woodruff registered September quarter 1886 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

1901 Census
Church Lane, Steeple Barton, Middle Barton, Oxfordshire.
Sarah Woodruff (51, Head, Married, Laundry Work, born Middle Barton, Oxon), and her 2 sons: Frank (16, Agricultural Labourer, born Middle Barton, Oxon), and Walter (14, Telegraph Messenger, born Middle Barton, Oxon).

1911 Census
Steeple Barton, Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire.
Sarah Woodruff (60, Head, Married, born Steeple Barton, Oxon), and 2 of her 4 children: Frank (26, Miller's Carter, born Steeple Barton, Oxon), and Walter (24, Farm Labourer, born Steeple Barton, Oxon).

Personal Data

After Walter's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/2/0d (3 pounds and 2 shillings); this was paid to his brother and sole legatee Harry in April 1918. His War Gratuity was £8/0/0d (8 pounds exactly), this was paid to his brother Harry in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Walter had enlisted in November 1915.

Action resulting in his death

On 22nd July 1917, the 1/4th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire moved from the Somme area to camps near Poperinghe in preparation for their part in the 3rd Battle of Ypres. This was to come on 16th August during the Battle of Langemarck.

The 1/4th Ox & Bucks were to attack from a position about 2 miles south of Langemarck immediately west of the Steenbeek. The Germans held a line consisting of organised shell-holes and reinforced houses, along the ridge 200 yards east of the stream.

The 1/4th Ox & Bucks were to attack in a north-east direction across today’s location of the Canadian memorial, the Brooding Soldier, at Vancouver Corner near St Julien. Two tanks were to have co-operated in attacking the strong points, but owing to the sodden nature of the ground they were unable to do so.

At 4.45 am the attack started behind a strong artillery barrage. There was little opposition until the first wave had advanced about 200 yards east of the Steenbeek, when it came under effective machine-gun fire from a German strong-point known as Mon du Hibou, just to the west of Vancouver Corner. Deadly machine-gun and rifle fire forced the advance to halt about 100 yards short of Mon du Hibou. Most of the twelve company officers became casualties in attempting to get forward.

Later that day, and again on the following day, the 1/7th Worcesters attacked Mon du Hibou, but failed to take it. The 1/4th Ox & Bucks were relieved just before midnight on the 17th August having 5 officers and 60 Other Ranks killed.

Walter Woodruff was killed on 16th August, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

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