Joe Wood (1894-1916)
Joe Wood was born in Meltham, the son of John Thomas Wood and his wife Alice Ann.
The following is courtesy of Donna:
Sadly there is no longer anyone surviving who remembers Joe Wood personally, or even stories of him, but the family of his great-nephew, the late Alan Montgomery, holds an archive of the Wood family’s papers.
The papers had been kept by Joe’s sister Winnie, along with those relating to Joe they include some certificates relating to her parents, John and Alice Wood. The papers had been lost for many years, but were later found in an old suitcase in the attic of Alan's family home which had changed ownership when his parents died. Fortunately the suitcase was discovered by the new owner and returned to the family.
The suitcase held a treasure-trove of birth, marriage and death certificates, a myriad of personal papers including educational certificates, testimonials and letters, and an extensive cache of photographs.
On first viewing it was difficult to put names to the people in the photographs but Alan had a genealogical investigation carried out that shed light on who was who. It was then simple to ascribe the documents to the correct people and understand the relationships between them.
The pivotal figure was Edith Winifred (Winnie) Wood, paternal grandmother to Alan and his sisters, Ann, Aileen and Morag. Winnie was married to a school teacher, Matthew Montgomery in 1912 and became mother to Alice (b. 1914) and Robert (b.1916). Alan and his sisters remember her as being an unhappy woman but the papers show that Winnie suffered many losses in her early life. She lost a brother and sister in childhood, her brother Joe fell at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 aged 22 years, her husband Matthew at Marne in 1918, and her daughter, Alice died from meningitis in 1920 aged just six years old.
Winnie and Joe’s parents, John and Alice Wood, had come to Neilston, Renfrewshire, Scotland, from Meltham, West Yorkshire, England, around 1900-1904 for employment reasons. John had been employed in the woollen weaving industry in Yorkshire. It is possible that the mill where he worked in Yorkshire was connected to his new workplace, Crofthead Mill, a thread mill in Neilston. (The building still stands as a Grade A-listed structure because of its historic importance).
Young Joe Wood himself worked at Crofthead Mill as a clerk before enlisting in the army. His papers comprise birth certificates, family photographs, postcards, greetings cards, letters (from during his military service), newspaper articles and items related to his death. Also the family has his wallet, address book, identity wrist band and Bronze Star 1914-15 medal. His British War and Victory medals are no longer in the family’s possession.
From the papers Joe comes across as a loving son and brother, doted on in turn by his parents and sister. A sense of fun and mischief stands out from from his letters, and he seems to have found humour even in the darkest of circumstances. On one of his postcards he writes “Dear Granny, Just a few words to let you know I am still alive, hope you are the same”. His letters to his cousin, Dora Wood, contain information he would prefer she didn’t share with his parents, lest it upset them as he was sensitive to their concern for him. His letters reveal that Joe was a devout believer in God and that his beloved family would be reunited in death. It is to be hoped that these thoughts gave him some comfort in his final days.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Private JOE WOOD
- regiment: Highland Light Infantry
- died: Monday, November 20, 1916
- age: 22 years
- record ID: 91932
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission (ID #91932)
- Imperial War Museums: Lives of the First World War (ID #4853234)