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Edward Woodruff was born in Preston in 1882 and was the eldest of eight children born to Edward and Margaret Emma Woodruff (nee Taylor). His parents were married in Preston in 1882 and Edward had three brothers and four sisters; Margaret Ann (1886), Mary Ellen (1888), Ada (1889), William (1891), John (1894), Richard (1896) and Emma (1898).

In 1901 Edward and his family were living at number 12 Gardner Street in Preston where his father was working as a labourer.

Edward married Jane Moon in Preston on the 12th February, 1907. A son Joseph was born the same year and he was followed by another brother Edward in 1909. Edward and Jane then had third son Albert born in 1910 but sadly he did not survive.

When the 1911 Census was recorded Edward, Jane and their two sons were living at 44 Hammond Street in Preston. Edward was a labourer in a cotton mill and Jane had a job as a cotton weaver. Two years later Edward and Jane had a fourth son and named him John.

When war was declared Edward was still labouring in the cotton mill but by the 2nd September, 1914 he had joined the lengthy queues at the recruiting office in Preston ready to enlist. The Medical Officer noted that he had a fair complexion, pale blue eyes and dark hair. He was only a small chap standing at just five feet two and a half inches tall. His declared age was 30 years and 1 month but he was actually a couple of years older having been born in 1882.

Edward was allocated the number 13901 and then posted to the 8th Battalion. The 8th Battalion remained in England for a full year training and growing in strength until eventually word came in early September 1915 that they would shortly be sailing for `an unknown destination`.

Edward went by train from Aldershot to Folkestone with the main body of the Battalion and sailed from there to Boulogne on the 25th September, 1915.

When the Battalion was first formed they were part of the 74th Brigade of the 25th Division but a month after landing in France they were transferred to the 7th Brigade of the same Division. During the best part of June 1916 the 25th Division were training to the west of St. Pol, but in the final week of June they moved south to join the Fourth Army.

The Battle of the Somme opened on the 1st July, 1916 and at the time the Battalion was at Lealvillers when orders came to move to Forceville.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary 1st-4th July 1916

1st July – the whole of the day was spent at LEALVILLERS, after 11am the Battalion was ordered to be ready to move at 1 hours’ notice. The France-British offensive north and south of the River Somme began. About 9-15pm orders were received to move to FORCEVILLE about 4 miles, to make room for the 38th Division H.Q. of which was coming to LEALVILLERS.

2nd July -The Battalion remained at FORCEVILLE until 10.45pm when the whole brigade moved into the X Corps reserve area in AVELUY WOOD arriving there shortly before daybreak on the 3rd.

3rd July -The whole Brigade remained in AVELUY WOOD until the evening when the Brigade relieved the 14th Brigade in the trenches. The Battalion went into Brigade Reserve in dug-outs at Crucifix Corner.

4th July – The Battalion remained at CRUCIFIX CORNER during the 4th. The morning was spent in cleaning up dug-outs etc. The enemy shelled the area of CRUCIFIX CORNER considerably about 6pm; the shells however did no damage. Their artillery was also active again in the evening.

Edward was a stretcher bearer and as a result of the actions on the 4th July 1916 he received shrapnel wounds to his back and gun-shot wounds in his abdomen. He was removed to 76 Field Ambulance but sadly he only lived for another eight days and died from his wounds on the 12th July 1916.

The following article appeared later in the Preston Guardian.

Woodruff 1

Edward was buried in Warloy Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. His widow Jane later signed for his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

His name is remembered on the Preston Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library and Edward is also remembered on the St. Ignatius RC Church War Memorial in Preston.

Woodruff 3Woodruff 2

Rank: Private
Service No: 13901
Date of Death: 12/07/1916
Age: 35
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Janet Davis
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