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Frank Woodward: killed 18 July 1916, First Battle of the Somme, WW1, France.

At the outbreak of World War 1, three members of the Woodward family in Burton on Trent volunteered for army service despite being Coopers by trade, an exempt occupation. Horace was rejected on medical grounds, (he had a double hernia); his brother Bernard became an officer in the Royal Horse Guards; and his brother Frank joined the 1st Btn. Gordon Highlanders (service number S/3985).

Frank Woodward (full name - Cecil Frank) was the fifth child of Arthur John and Joice Woodward. He was born at Burton on Trent in 1896 or 1897 and is shown as being aged 4 years on the 1901 census return (31 March 1901). According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission report, he was 19 years old when he died in 1916.

According to his brother Bernard, Frank was killed at Delville Wood near Longueval. The wood was also known as Devil's Wood, and was the site of many ferocious battles between 1 July 1916 and 27 August 1916 when it was finally cleared of German soldiers. The picture on the right shows the shattered remains of the area after the battle. Photo: Michelin Guide to the Somme Battlefields.

The cemetery at Delville Wood contains over 5500 graves of men killed during the summer of 1916, mainly South African troops, 3500 of which contain the bodies of men who could not be identified.

Delville Wood

Thiepval Memorial, France

Frank's burial place is unknown. His name is one of 72,000 names etched on the Thiepval Memorial, France (opposite). The memorial is dedicated to the missing of the Somme, and bears the names of officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died on the Somme before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916

The memorial is a huge structure standing 45m (over 140 feet) high, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1932.

Frank's name is carved on Pier and Face 15B and 15C of the memorial and his details are contained on page 2774 of the commemorative book kept at the site. A visitor's centre opened recently, housing a museum containing books, photographs and other items relating to the Battle of the Somme.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 344 Woodward's killed during World War 1.

See also Imperial War Museum - Delville Wood.