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Rennie was born on the 4 November, 1892 in Nelson near Burnley and was the son of Joseph and Rhoda Woodward (nee Pollard). Rennie`s father was from Plymouth in Devon and his mother was born in Burnley and they married in St. Mary`s Church in Nelson on the 29 January, 1887.

Rennie had two brothers and three sisters, Thomas (1887), Bertha (1889), Harry (1891), Annie (1895) and Celia (1899). After Joseph`s parents married they moved into a house in Clayton Street in Nelson but by the time their first daughter Bertha was born they were living in Calder Street which is where they stayed for at least the next twenty years or more.

Rennie`s father passed away in 1910 and when the 1911 Census was recorded Rhoda was still in Calder Street with all of her children. Rennie and the rest of his siblings with the exception of the youngest girl Celia were all employed as cotton weavers in a local mill.

According to a later newspaper report it seems Rennie went into the Army in about 1911 and as he is pictured wearing an East Lancashire Regiment cap badge in the photograph below it seems this was the regiment he initially joined. Unfortunately there does not appear to be any surviving service records for Rennie so an exact timeline of his service is difficult to determine.

At some point Rennie joined the 2nd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and then went with the Battalion to India in January 1914.

In the middle of October 1914 the Battalion left India and sailed for East Africa where they took part in the Battle of Tanga (3rd-5th November, 1914).

The Battle of Tanga (A.K.A. The Battle of the Bees)

The Battle of Tanga was an unsuccessful attack by the British Indian Expeditionary Force “B” under Major General A.E. Aitken to capture German East Africa in concert with the invasion Force “C” near Longido on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the first major event of the war in German East Africa and saw the British defeated by a significantly smaller force of German Askaris and colonial volunteers.

At noon on 4th November 1914, Aitken ordered his troops to march on the city. Well concealed defenders quickly broke up their advance. The fighting then turned to jungle skirmishing by the southern contingent and bitter street fighting by the harbour force. The Gurkhas of the Kashmiri Rifles and the 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment of the harbour contingent made good progress and entered the town, captured the customs house and Hotel Deutscher Kaiser and ran up the Union Jack. But then the advance was stopped. Less well trained and equipped Indian battalions of the 27th Bangalore Brigade scattered and ran away from the battle. The 98th Infantry were attacked by swarms of angry bees and broke up. The bees attacked the Germans as well, hence the battle`s nickname.

The Battalion lost 44 men killed in action and a further 5 men died of wounds later the same day.

Private Rennie Woodward survived the battle and was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant conduct.

His DCM citation reads as follows:

10351 Private R. Woodward, 2nd Bn. L. N. Lanc. R (LG 3 June 1915). For gallant conduct on 4th November, 1914 during the attack at Tanga (East Africa), and for general good work performed under a heavy fire.

News of Rennie`s award reached his family and then the following photograph was published in the local papers both in Burnley and Preston.


Sadly, Rennie Woodward did not survive the war, he died on the 9th December 1916 after contracting pneumonia.

On the 19 May, 1917 Rennie`s mother was presented with his Distinguished Conduct Medal at a ceremony in his home town of Nelson. The Lancashire Evening Post reported on the proceedings;

“At Nelson today the Mayor (Councillor C. Townley) presented the MM to Lance Corporal Trudgill, Lancs Fusiliers and the DCM to Mrs. Woodward, the latter distinction having been won by her son the late Private Rennie Woodward, 2nd L.N.L. Regiment.

In handing the DCM to Mrs. Woodward the Mayor expressed his great regret that Pte Woodward had not lived to personally receive the medal which had been awarded to him for gallant conduct on Nov. 4th, 1914 during an attack on Tanga, East Africa and for general good work performed under heavy fire. He was sure it always would be a source of joy and satisfaction to Mrs Woodward to feel that her boy had so nobly distinguished himself in serving his country”.

Mrs Woodward also later received Rennie`s medal entitlement of the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Rennie was originally buried in Kilwa Kivinje Military Cemetery but was later re-interred along with other men into Dar es Salaam War Cemetery.

His parents requested the following words be inscribed at the foot of his gravestone;

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”


Rank: Private
Service No: 10351
Date of Death: 09/12/1916
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.
Awards: DCM

Janet Davis
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One Response to 10351 PTE. R. WOODWARD. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Paul McCormick says:

    I just realised that the Battle of Tanga, where he won his DCM, happened on his birthday, 4th November.

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