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  • The telegram informing John Wood's family of his death in action.
Person Details
15 Oct 1896
He was the son of Joseph Turney, a leather manufacturer, and Mary Ann Wood of 92 Park Road, Lenton, Nottingham, and later 17 St Jude’s Avenue, Mapperley, Nottingham. Jack Wood was born at 29, Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, the fourth, and last, child of Joseph Turney Wood and his wife Mary Ann Derry. He was their only son. Jack had a happy childhood, spending a lot of time on the Lincolnshire coast with his sisters where the family eventually had a house, called “Sunnybank”, at Sutton-on-Sea. The family home in Nottingham was at 62, Park Road, Lenton from 1902 where there were lots of pets, guinea pigs, rabbits and, usually, a dog. Jack became interested in the astronomical work of his father. He also had radio equipment at Park Road as a schoolboy, rode a cycle along with the rest of the family and learned to drive a car – very much a luxury in those days before the First World War. His was a comfortable, upper middle class existence. On Monday 6th October 1906 his father records in his diary “Take Jackie in a cab to the High School and see Dr Turpin – enter him in the preparatory school [Junior School]” and on Tuesday 23rd October 1906 “Jack’s first day at school, he likes it very much. I went about the same age 30 years ago.” Amongst his classmates was Albert Ball whose family lived in Lenton and who was to become the famous First World War fighter ace. The two boys used to go fishing together. In the early summer of 1910 it was decided that Jack should go to Trent College and he was fitted with his new uniform, beginning there at the end of September or early October 1910. However, it appears that his mother wasn’t happy for him to be away at boarding school, particularly as he had been ill during the previous summer. He did not settle well there, being frequently unwell and losing weight. Nonetheless, he did get involved in some activities, including the school choir and the OTC. As a member of the Trent OTC he was reviewed at Windsor by the King on 4th July 1911. He seems to have left Trent at the end of the summer term 1911 and returned to the High School, where he took up the violin. Jack stayed at the High School until he started work at his father’s tannery at Turney’s Quay by Trent Bridge in 1913. The annual prizegiving at the High School, held on 7th December 1911 was attended by the Wood family. Joseph Turney Wood wrote in his diary “To the High School Speech Day at the Mechanics[Institute]. Jack in his cadet uniform looks very nice and smart. School songs – Widdicombe Fair and Midsummer Nights Dream – very good. Treat them to taxi home at 10. Give Jack a shilling for the salute.” However, the entry for 10th December is less complimentary, “”Photograph Jack in his uniform, he is very stupid”. On Monday 15th September 1913, Jack accompanied his father to the Trent Bridge leather works at 8 am and started work. He then stayed overnight at an employees' house in West Bridgford until accommodation could be arranged for him. He spent his weekends at home and the first weekend he had friends round to use the “wireless room at Park Road”. In early January 1914 Jack was enrolled as an apprentice to the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, London. In July 1914 the family were preparing to celebrate the Wood parents’ silver wedding anniversary on 29th July, but the preparations were engulfed by both family and national tragedy. On 30th July a telegram arrived stating that Jack’s paternal grandfather had died. Of course, all this was against the backdrop of the moves towards war in Europe. Joseph Wood’s diary on 4th August notes “England declares war on Germany. Post Office remove Jack’s aerial!!”. On Sunday 9th August he notes that “Sir John [Turney] rings up that the Robin Hoods [Nottingham’s territorial battalion, 7th Sherwoods, including many former High School pupils] go tomorrow”. Research Simon Williams
Educated at Nottingham High School. Member of University College Nottingham OTC. Started work at Sir John Turney's leatherworks at Trent Bridge and in early 1914 was enrolled as an apprentice to the Worshipful Company of Leather Sellers.
03 Oct 1916
242361 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
149 Coy Machine Gun Corps
He was attached from 3rd Bn Northamptonshire Regiment. On Friday 7th September 1914 his father’s diary notes that “The weather changes, East wind. The French Government leaves for Bordeaux. JACK GIVES HIS NAME IN FOR THE ROBIN HOODS”. 23rd September, “Jack anxious to enlist”. Thursday 15th October 1914 – “Jack’s 18th birthday. Give him 10 shillings and Granny gives him 10 shillings. He goes to drill at the High School with Trotman [Captain Trotman, former High School teacher and in charge of the University College OTC]. On Monday 11th March 1915, after an impatient wait Jack “asks Sir John to allow him to take a commission” and on Friday 17th March Sir John Turney gave permission to go. He remained in Nottingham until Saturday 26th June when the diary of his father states “much rain in the night , but turns out a lovely day. Freda and I accompany Jack to the station, he goes by the 3.30 train 1st class with 6 or 7 other officers.” Jack had been accepted for a commission in to the 3rd Battalion the Northamptonshire Regiment as a second lieutenant. He was sent for training to Gillingham and was at Fort Darland. On Saturday 14th August 1915 Jack came home on leave. The diary states, “At 5.30 meet Jack at Victoria [Station Nottingham, now site of Victoria Shopping Centre]. He looks very bronzed and well”. Little is known of Jack’s training, but he received orders to join the British Expeditionary Force in France on 7th September 1916. He landed there five days later and was quickly attached to 149th Company, the Machine Gun Corps, joining them on 22nd September. The Company spent the following week behind the new front line in the Mametz Wood area where duties included ‘cleaning and sorting of limbers etc’. The 50th Division, of which they were a part was ordered to resume the attack on the German lines on 1st October. Lieutenant Wood was placed in charge of guns 1 and 2 (the 149th Company had 16 guns altogether) which were at the disposal of 1/4th battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. The war diary of the unit states that Second Lieutenant Wood and three other ranks were killed on 3rd October 1916. He had been in France for less than a month, in the front line for less than a week. His father received a telegram on 6th October informing him that his son had been killed in action. Eventually in March 1917 he received the news that Jack had been buried at a site north-east of Martinpuich, to the north-east of the town of Albert. Joseph Wood was also in correspondence with various army units over his son’s personal effects. He learned that Jack’s body was found and buried by an officer of the Black Watch, a famous Scottish Regiment, a Second Lieutenant Callan. A ‘pocket case, pocket book, card case, tobacco pouch, pipe, fountain pen, letters, cigarette case and whistle’ were removed from the body before burial and handed in, eventually being returned to the family. His last letter home, little more than a brief note sent on 2nd October 1916 read as follows: “My dear Mother, I have had no chance to write you yesterday and this is being written under difficulties. I got back on Saturday at 7 pm after going round the line and found your letter of 27th and the parcel. Yesterday we moved up and so got not mail and don’t know when I shall get another: It is rotten to day in the line and it has started to rain. I thought of you yesterday and was wondering what sort of a time you were having mine was a pretty thin one. You never know what is going to happen from one minute to another now. I hope this letter reaches you alright. The gloves were very useful last night as it was rather cold. I think I have seen enough of France and wish I was back. Well I must stop now or the letter will get wet through. With heaps of love Jack” From this letter you get a real sense of the discomfort, writing it in the rain and misery that Jack Wood must have been feeling in the very unfamiliar environment of the front line trenches of the Somme Battlefield. He had clearly been in the trenches only a couple of days and was not to survive beyond the next day. The Woods contacted Second Lieutenant John Callan of the Black Watch who had found their son’s body. He was wounded in the Battle of Arras in 1917 and Joseph Wood visited him in hospital in London. He found out that Callan had found Jack’s body accidentally as it was almost completely buried. He had then had Jack buried with his grave facing west, looking towards home. Callan was very badly wounded, but Joseph Wood visited him again and Callan came to stay with the family in Nottingham, meeting Lieutenant Hoyte, MC, Old Nottinghamian, and brother of R W Hoyte whose name is commemorated on the Arras Memorial we visited yesterday and who was killed on 21st March 1918. Callan married in March 1918 and Wood visited him and his new wife in London. Research Simon Williams
The “Northampton Independent” of 11th November 1916 reported the following:- “The Northamptonshire Regiment has lost a promising officer. He had been with the regiment since June 1915. Educated at Nottingham High School and Trent College, he studied Chemistry under Professor Kipping at Nottingham University College where he was in the OTC and he was apprenticed to Sir John Turney and the Leather Sellers Company. He was attached to the Machine Gun Corps”. The “Nottingham Guardian” of 14th October 1916 also stated that John Gervase Wood was the son of Mr J T Wood of the Trent Bridge Leather Works. Son of Joseph Turney Wood, grandson of the late Joseph Derry. He served in the OTC under Captain Trotman. His great-grandfather fought in the Battle of Waterloo. Family grave, Nottingham Southern Cemetery, Wilford Hill: 'John Gervase Wood, 2nd Lieutenant Northamptonshire Regiment, killed in action near Eaucourt L'Abbaye, Oct 3rd 1916 in his 20th year. Ego dormio et cor meum vigilant.' [I sleep and my heart is vigilant) (Song of Songs 5:2)]
Remembered on


  • The telegram informing John Wood's family of his death in action.
    Courtesy Simon Williams - The telegram informing John Wood's family of his death in action.
  • photo shows the family grave of John Gervase Wood at Wilford Hill cemetery, Nottingham 
Courtesy of Peter Gillings
    Family grave of John Gervase Wood - photo shows the family grave of John Gervase Wood at Wilford Hill cemetery, Nottingham Courtesy of Peter Gillings
  • The family grave of John Gervase Wood at Wilford Hill cemetery, Nottingham showing a close up of the inscription. 
Courtesy of Peter Gillings
    family grave of John Gervase Wood - The family grave of John Gervase Wood at Wilford Hill cemetery, Nottingham showing a close up of the inscription. Courtesy of Peter Gillings
  • Commonwealth war grave headstone marking his grave at Warlencourt British Cemetery, Pas De Calais. 
Courtesy of Murray Biddle
    John Gervase Wood - Commonwealth war grave headstone marking his grave at Warlencourt British Cemetery, Pas De Calais. Courtesy of Murray Biddle