ARTHUR WOOD

Private Ply/21(S), Royal Marine Light Infantry

Died 3rd May 1915 aged 27

No Known Grave Commemorated Helles Memorial, Turkey

Husband of Jessie Wood

Lived Upper Beauregard Street, Heckmondwike


Arthur Wood
Arthur was born on 27 August 1888 to Herbert and Annie Wood.  Herbert was from Heckmondwike; Annie (née Turphrey or Turfrey) was from Scotland.  Three years after his birth the family with sons William and Arthur, daughters Sarah and Charlotte were living at 59, South Street, Millbridge.  Herbert and Annie had two more daughters: Jane in 1894 and Blanche in 1898.  By 1901 the family were at 35, Upper George Street, Heckmondwike.  Herbert and William were working as Machine Minders in textile industry, the rest including 13 year old Arthur were at home.

Arthur married Jessie Butcher, aged 23, early in 1911 and in April they were living at 9, Firth Street, Boothroyd Lane, Dewsbury.  He worked as a Miner at Dymond’s Pit, Liversedge and Jessie was a Cotton Spinner.  A son, Willie, was born later that year.  Herbert and Annie had moved by 1911 to 11, Union Street, Heckmondwike, the address given for Arthur on the Heckmondwike Roll of Honour.

On the outbreak of war Arthur volunteered and enlisted on 8 September 1914 with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI).  He was described as 5ft 4½ins tall, with blue eyes and light brown hair, and gave his address as 110, Well Street, Flush, Heckmondwike.  The date of his enlistment coincided with a recruitment drive by the newly created Royal Naval Division.  Naval officers toured Army Depots in search of men willing to transfer, and after just one day with KOYLI, Arthur became a Private with the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Plymouth Battalion.  There were around 200 KOYLI recruits who made the move at the same time, including at least five others from the Heckmondwike area: Christopher Hallam Ply174/S; George Gale Ply175/S; Josiah Hardiman Ply/176/S; Thomas Dent Ply184/S and George Waite Ply185/S.  Only Josiah Hardiman and George Waite survived the war.  In these service numbers the PLY indicates the Plymouth Battalion; the number is simply their place in the queue for transfer to the Battalion, and S shows that the enlistment was for the duration of the war.

After training, Arthur spent Christmas at home.  On 6 February 1915 Arthur’s Battalion left the camp at Blandford Forum, Dorset for Devonport and sailed that evening on the ‘Braemar Castle’ for the Mediterranean.  After five days in Malta the Battalion sailed east.  After some time in Egypt the Battalion took part in the assault on ‘Y’ Beach on the West coast of the Gallipoli peninsular on 25 April 1915.  The landing, on a narrow beach backed by cliffs around 200 feet high, was unopposed, but by late that afternoon the Turks began a series of attacks which lasted throughout the night until 6:45am the following morning.  Isolated, suffering heavy casualties and with no sign of the expected reinforcements, all surviving troops were evacuated around 11am on 26 April 1915.  It was during this action that Arthur and around a third of the Battalion were killed or wounded.  The CWGC records his death, and that of others, as 3 May 1915, but this masks the difficult circumstances following the evacuation.  The officers responsible for the Battalion records were on the troopship ‘Franconia’ off the Dardanelles and they no doubt had little opportunity to complete their task until 4 May 1915.  The ‘Y’ Beach Battalion deaths were simply described as occurring ‘about the 3rd of May 1915’.

Mrs Wood received a letter from the Records Office of the Royal Marine Division dated 14 May 1915 saying that her husband had been killed in action near the Dardanelles.   Shortly afterwards Mrs Wood received an insurance payment of £22 but £15 of this was stolen from her home.  The person convicted of this theft was her sister.  A war gratuity of £5 was awarded to Mrs Wood on 26 June 1919, and Arthur qualified for the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial Turkey.
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