Maurice was born in late 1897 in Cowden. In the 1901 census he was living at Summersales Farm 1 (presumably a cottage on the farm), Blackham, with parents Henry (farm labourer) and Annie, and older siblings Henry R, Annie L and Rosa. By 1911, Henry is now described as a waggoner, the three oldest children have moved away and Maurice has two younger siblings Leonard Clifford, and Frank Malayan. Henry and Anne have been married for 23 years. Maurice enlisted at Tunbridge Wells into the West Kent Regiment but was transferred with other West Kent men to the 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers early in 1917. Rank..Private No G/51827 He died 1 September 1917, aged 19, during a raid on German Blockhouses near the village of Wytschaete (known to soldiers as Whitesheet) in Belgium. Extract from the war diary... “Early on the morning of 1/9/1917 a party of 3 officers and 79 other ranks (ORS) from D Company raided a series of enemy posts and dugouts. These
objectives were allocated to 5 parties. Zero time was 2.15am. The moon was extraordinarily bright but all the objectives were reached. 4 dugouts were bombed and a number of casualties inflicted on the enemy. “Our casualties 1 officer and 1OR wounded, 5 ORs missing.” During that day the following congratulatory message was received.
“The Divisional Commander is very pleased with the enterprise shown by the 10th Royal Fusiliers in preparing and carrying out the raid at such short notice. He regrets that the raiding party was unable to reap the full reward of the operation owing to the time allocated being too short.” Frank Wiltshire, who researched and wrote this story, added a comment. ‘So the top brass were happy.
‘I often wondered what was the point of the trench raid by the 10th Royal Fusiliers which led to the death of Maurice Wood? If they and Engineers had gone over No Man's Land with demolition charges to blow up the strong points holding up the advance I would understand. Why? ‘But this raid was a simple destructive adventure, kill some people, wreck some equipment, all of which would be replaced in the morning. ‘Why? The answer I found in the book Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger, a German veteran of the Great War. He explained that mortal danger binds men together, boredom and inactivity will drive them into groups, cliques. ‘That attitude caused the death of five men of the 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. They have no known graves. They are listed at the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. ‘Please remember Maurice Wood (19), Jonathan Sutcliffe (19), Joseph Wadsworth, Charles Collins and Charles William Cook.’ Thanks to David Carter of the Great War Forum for the information and photo
Maurice John Wood
Killed with four comrades in a fruitless raid
82 German Blockhouse, Nr Occulist Row, Wytschaete © David Carter
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