Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol, 27 October 2001

A ceremony, organised by the South Western Branch Scots Guards Association, took place in Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol, on 27th October 2001 to erect a replacement headstone over the grave of Corporal Harry Wood VC, MM.

The ceremony was attended by relatives and friends; the Bristol Royal British Legion; Regimental Adjutant Scots Guards; and a party representing the regiment from Headquarters Scots Guards.

Harry Blanshard Wood was born on 21 June 1882 at Pocklington, North Yorkshire and joined the Scots Guards on 3 February 1903. After the outbreak of WWI in August 1914 Harry Wood was recalled from the Army Reserve and from October 1914 served with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. In the Autumn of 1915 Wood took part in the Battle of Loos, the first battle in which the newly formed Guards Division was involved.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 14 December 1918 ]. St Python, France, 13 October 1918, 16444 Corporal ( Lance-Sergeant ) Harry Wood MM, 2nd Bn, Scots Guards.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during operations at the village of St. Python, France, on 13 October 1918. The advance was desperately opposed by machine guns and the streets were raked by fire. His platoon sergeant was killed and command of the leading platoon fell to him.

The task of the company was to clear the western side of the village and secure the crossing of the River Selle. Command of the ruined bridge had to be gained, though the space in front of it was covered by snipers. Corporal Wood boldly carried a large brick out into the open space, lay down behind it, and fired continually at these snipers, ordering his men to work across while he covered them by his fire. This he continued to do under heavy and well-aimed fire until the whole of his party had reached the objective point.

He showed complete disregard for his personal safety, and his leadership throughout the day was of the highest order. Later, he drove off repeated enemy counter-attacks against his position. His gallant conduct and initiative shown, contributed largely to the success of the day's operations.

Harry Wood was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 22nd February 1919.

For the award of the Military Medal.

[ London Gazette, 11 December 1918 ]. Boyelles Railway Station, France, 15 August 1918, 16444 Corporal ( Lance-Sergeant ) Harry Wood MM, 2nd Bn, Scots Guards.

No Citation.

( Having lost his bearings in No-Mans-Land, Wood arrived at the enemy trenches. At the same time he unfortunately made a noise which attracted a group of Germans, who quickly surrounded him. Reacting quickly, Wood shot two of them and wounded another. The Germans were slow to respond, and Wood took the wounded man as hostage, before getting clean away. Later, Wood's captured German was discovered to have important papers on him ).

In early August 1924, while on holiday in Teignmouth with his new wife, the couple were walking along a street when a car suddenly mounted the pavement and made as if to hit the couple. Seeing that her husband's life was in danger, Mrs Wood pushed him out of the way, only to be pinned against a wall herself. Although she suffered only a few cuts and abrasions, her husband, possibly because of his nervous state as a consequence of his war service, was so shocked that he became unconscious and fell into a coma from which he never recovered.

Harry Wood was only 42 years of age and was buried in Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol. His Victoria Cross is in the possession of the York Castle Museum, York.

Medal entitlement of Corporal Harry Wood VC MM - 2nd Bn, Scots Guards

  • Victoria Cross
  • Military Medal ( MM )
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug - 22nd Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )


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Iain Stewart, 30 November 2001