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29206 Private James Albert Wood 1James Albert Wood was born on the 29th October 1898 in Shap, Westmorland to Charles William and Euphemia Farquhar Wood. He was the eldest of three sons born to his parents, the other two being; George Gardner (1900) and Alexander Boyd (1909). James` father was from Birstall near Leeds in Yorkshire and his mother had been born in Edinburgh. After his parents` marriage (details unknown), they set up home at Hill Top in the village of Shap where his father was employed as a Cashier in the Shap Granite Works.

James` younger brother George was also born in Shap and at some point after his arrival the Wood family relocated to Manchester where his youngest brother Alexander was born in 1907. In the Census of 1911 the Wood family lived at 98 Princess Road, Moss Side in Manchester where James` father was running a newsagent/tobacconist and stationery shop, his mother was recorded as a housekeeper and was also assisting in the family business. James and his younger brother George were both attending school. The family had an elderly relative staying with them, 73 year old Euphemia Boyd and also a live-in general domestic servant, 25 year old Isabella Walker.

On the 2nd July 1913 aged 14 years old James went to work as a messenger in the employ of Messrs. Guinness, Sons & Co. Ltd in Manchester where he remained until the 1st February 1917, presumably leaving because he had been called up for war service. Unfortunately his service papers have not survived so very little information is available but we know that he enlisted at Manchester and was issued with the service number 29206. At some point he went overseas and was initially posted to the 4/5th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

On the 4th February 1918 the 4/5th Battalion LNL amalgamated with the 1/5th Battalion LNL who, a month earlier had been transferred into the 166th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. On the 14th February 1918 the 1/5th Battalion was at Cottes in the St. Hilaire area and in reserve of the XV Corps. On the 1st March they moved to Pont de Nieppe in order to do some training and by the 20th March they had gone into the trenches in the Fleurbaix area, said to be a quieter part of the front compared to where they had served previously.

According to the war history the Battalion spent the months of April and May in the Couin and Coigneux areas alternating between billets and the trenches around Gommecourt. Sadly, it was here on the 29th May 1918 that James was killed in action, he was just 19 years old.

After the war his parents took receipt of his British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

James was originally buried in one of the smaller cemeteries but his body was later exhumed having been identified by means of a cross marking his original grave. He was finally laid to rest in Gommecourt British Cemetery No. 2, Hebuterne. His parents had the following words inscribed at the foot of his headstone;


29206 Private James Albert Wood CWGC

Photo taken July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 29206
Date of Death: 29/05/1918
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/5th Bn.

Janet Davis
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