archie-wood-image1.jpg
Headstone at Fromelles of an unknown soldier
Fromelles Association of Australia

Archie WOOD

Regimental Number
781
Rank
Private
War Service
Egypt and Western Front
Prior Military Service
Nil
Enlistment
13 Jul 1915 at Liverpool, NSW
Embarkation
09 Nov 1915 from Sydney, NSW, on the HMAT A72 Beltana
Next of Kin
Wife - Mrs Alice Hamilton Wood, of “Hamilton”, Victor St, Chatswood. NSW
Date & Place of Birth
10 Jun 1888, Melbourne, VIC
Parents
Annie (nee PERRY) and Edward William WOOD
Marital Status
Married – Single on enlistment married prior to embarkment
Siblings
Nil known
School
Glenn Innes Public School, NSW
Occupation
Labourer
Physical Description
5 feet 6 inches, 132 pounds (167.6cm, 59.9kg)
Eyes brown, Hair black, Complexion dark
Religion
Presbyterian
Fate
Killed in Action, 20 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France. On German Death List - aged 28
Place of Burial
No known grave
Commemorated
V.C. Corner, (Panel 3), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified
No

Archie Wood is one of our mystery men

archie-wood-is-one-of-our-myster-image2.png
Roll of Honour notice published on 14 April 1917 by Archie’s widow and her sister.

His files report he was born in Melbourne, went to school in Glen Innes and was living in Redfern when he signed up. He had brown eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.

Archie’s War

Many have searched for Archie, as he is on the German Death List which means a very great chance of being one of those now buried in the Pheasant Wood Cemetery, with the inscription, ‘Known unto God’ on his gravestone.

He was reported missing in action on 20 July 1916. As part of the enquiry into those missing, the Red Cross gathered eyewitness reports where they could

Statement by 2185 Lance Corporal A. WEBSTER, A Company, 30th Bn (patient, 2nd Southern General Hospital, Southmead, Bristol, England), 8 December 1916:

“About 6 p.m. on July 19th we made an attack on German trenches near Armentieres. Just after leaving our trenches I saw Wood hit by a bullet from [a] machine gun. I spoke to him and he said he was dying. Both legs were nearly off and he was bleeding to death. We had to leave him. Later we retired but Wood was never seen again.”

Statement by 779 Private C.E. WIGGINS, 30th Bn, 7 January 1917:

“I was with Pte Wood when he was wounded. His wound was very serious, but I cannot tell you whether he died, though I would not have given much for his chance of living. He was wounded in the head, a bullet entered through his left eye and out of his head at the back. When I saw him last he was struggling with a fellow for possession of a rifle ..............Description – Height about 5ft 6in, Dark complexion, dark hair, brown eyes, peculiar walk, thick set”

The German army issued a Death Voucher confirming the death of soldier 781 A. Wood on 19th July 1916 in the Fromelles area and in March 1917 they returned his identification disc. File notes show that the disc was despatched to Archie’s next of kin, Mrs Alice Wood, in June 1917. The following month his personal effects were also returned to her – safety razor in case, testament, and letters.

A man with no relatives

Archie Wood had a New South Wales marriage certificate and his attestation papers. They agree on his wife’s name, his age, and his place of birth. But nothing further can be found:

  • No birth certificate for this Archie Wood born 20 June 1888 in Melbourne.
  • No marriage certificate for his parents – Edward William Wood (a commercial traveller) and Annie Perry.
  • No record for his parents’ deaths – both stated to be deceased on his marriage in October 1915
  • And there were no children from Archie and Alice’s marriage.

When completing enlistment papers in July 1915, Archie was living in a boarding house and working as a lift attendant. The 1915 polling records for Redfern confirm his boarding house address and in 1913 there is an Archie Wood in nearby Petersham working as a lift attendant. There are no other people named Wood at either address.

archies-war-image3.png
Notes from Probate file for Estate of Archie Wood.
source NSW State archives - NRS-12409-1[13/2347]-743/17

Within about a four-month period, Archie enlisted, married Alice, purchased a home on the North Shore - in his name only – and, without a will, went off to war. On his death, Alice had to apply to the courts to gain access to the house title. Administration of Archie’s estate was granted to the Public Trustee because he died intestate. Probate documents show that a house was purchased in Willoughby just prior to departure and that probate was granted to the widow.

It is possible that Archie came by his money by marrying Alice Hamilton Anderson - just eight days before embarkation. Alice came from a line of Scottish immigrants and she was a successful tailoress who moved her business from inner Sydney to the North Shore. Alice’s older sister, Grace, worked with her and was a lifelong companion. Both sisters died in the Katoomba district and left all their wealth to each other with the longest living one leaving everything to the Presbyterian Church. Alice died in 1959 in Katoomba and was cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium. Grace died the following year and is buried in Katoomba. There is no headstone or plaque for either sister.

Researchers also noted that a witness to Alice’s will was a Florence Maria Perry. Was she possibly a relative of Annie Perry, Archie’s mother? To date, investigations have not found a connection.

Archie and the researchers’ brick wall

So, what other clues are there to Archie’s family?

To start, we have an aunt with no name and a link to Inglewood in Queensland.

The next of kin on the attestation papers originally was “Aunt, Inglewood Post Office, Queensland (in care)” and that changed to his wife when he married. Inglewood polling records, cemetery, and electoral rolls show that there are Wood and Perry families in the area however we cannot connect any one of these to Archie. The aunt – whose name was never specified - could have had a married name and possibly lived on an outlying property, only coming into town on occasions.

Researchers have contacted the Inglewood library for assistance. The contact there has great local knowledge - also working for the Visitors Centre and at reception for Goondiwindi Regional Council – but found no link that may assist.

Next, there is a Glenn Innes connection.

The AIF Project has Archie being schooled at Glen Innes Public School. State Records packets on Glen Innes school between 1893-1910 have been searched with no reference to any Wood or Perry families.

Glen Innes polling records for 1903 list both Perry and Wood families but no connection can be made with Archie, his father (Edward) or his mother (Annie nee Perry). Glen Innes History Museum and Information Centre were helpful but had no relevant records.

Researchers have also rummaged amongst other possible sources, including:

  • Copies of the repatriation file and medical benefits file from New South Wales State Records provided no further useful information.
  • Trawling through TROVE led to the discovery of a family with an Alice and Archie Wood however they had several children (no time for that scenario in a few short months) and this Alice’s second name was Marie not Hamilton.
  • Also, newspapers made mention of an Archibald Calderwood alias Archie Wood in connection with police and court matters. Downloading his gaol photo and description, it seems however that Calderwood was eight years older, born in Sydney not Melbourne, and a bit shorter and a bit heavier. The real difference is Calderwood’s eyes being blue not brown and having brown hair not black.

So, despite Archie being on the German death list, we have found no relatives on either side of his family and therefore no DNA donors. Private Archie Wood remains a man of mystery.

Help!

Seeking DNA Donors

Fromelles Association of Australia

Contacts

The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).

Donations

The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).