Private Samuel Woodhouse
12695, 2nd Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) who was killed in action on 15 September 1916, aged 20
Remembered with Honour
Barrow Hill Memorial
Staveley Parish Memorial
Thiepval Memorial Pier& Face 10 C 10 D & 11 A
Herefordshire born Charles Woodhouse was working at The Hagge Farm on Staveley Lane, Barrow Hill, when he met Alfreton born Emily Wilkinson. The couple married at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Staveley, on 6th April 1885.
In 1891, the couple were living on Colliers Row at Staveley with their two young daughters, 5 year old Alice and 11 month old Ethel. They had moved to Folly House on Hollingwood Common by 1901 from where Charles worked as a farm waggoner. Their family had grown with the births of Charles in 1892, Amy in 1894, ERNEST SAMUEL in 1896, Hannah in 1899 and baby Norah in December 1900.
Charles found employment as a pit top labourer at one of the collieries belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company which allowed the family to move to a 2-up, 2-down company cottage at 131, Devonshire Terrace, at Barrow Hill. In 1911, Charles Junior and Samuel were both working as labourers in the foundry at the local cast iron pipe works whilst Hannah and Norah were still at the school in the village. Alice had married Enoch Brough in 1905 and Ethel was in service at Widdowsons’ farm at Inkersall.
18 year old Samuel enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) at Chesterfield “a fortnight after the declaration of war.” He was originally with the 9th (Service) Battalion which was formed at Derby in August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division.
The volunteers of the 9th Bn., were sent to their training camp at Belton Park, near Grantham, the seat of Earl Brownlow. They had a tented encampment, which would suffice until the winter at least, a large enough area to train properly and a good firing range.
The 9th Battalions first major parade took place on 18th October 1914 when Lord Kitchener himself inspected them. As 1915 began, the battalion training continued and slowly they became a cohesive fighting unit, ready for anything, or so they thought. All that could be done to prepare the men had been done and they were ready for battle.
In early April the 11th Division moved south to the Godalming, Surrey area and the battalion would be at Frensham Camp near Farnham, which was a regular Army barracks. On 4th April 1915 the Division assembled at Witley and Frensham, where final training was undertaken. King George V inspected the Division on Hankey Common on 31st May 1915.
After ten months of training and preparation the 9th Battalion would be going to war. No doubt many of the men thought they would serve in France and, by 1916, many wished they had. Instead they were destined to fight in a theatre of war that would gain an infamous reputation – Gallipoli. (Samuels’ Medal Index Card records that he was in the Balkans in 1915).
On 1st July 1915 the 9thBn, as part of 33rd Brigade, sailed from Liverpool on H.M. Transport ‘Empress of Britain’ via Malta, Alexandria and Lemnos before arriving at Mudros, the base for troops fighting on Gallipoli, on 18th July. The 33rd brigade went straight into action at Cape Helles, attached to the Royal Naval Division, where their trenches were under constant fire.
Gully Ravine, Cape Helles, July 1915
After 10 days at Helles, the brigade was ordered back to 11th Division and Imbros. They were relieved by French troops on Sunday 1st August and marched back to the rest camp. At 10.30pm that evening they re-embarked on the S.S. Osmanieh and sailed to Imbros where they arrived the following morning. The battalion then spent the time before the Suvla Bay landing, practising for the landing and recovering from Helles.
At around 9-30 pm on the evening of 6th August the first troops of the main force landed at Suvla Bay and by 10 pm four battalions had made it ashore with more on the way.
A local newspaper report states that Samuel “was sent to the Dardanelles, where he was wounded in the thigh.”
In February 1916, Samuel was transferred to 2nd Battalion (Sherwood Foresters) and embarked for France where the battalion had been on the Western Front since September 1914.
Between the 13th and 17th September the 2nd Battalion was heavily engaged in attacks around the Quadrilateral Redoubt:- At 3 a.m. on the 13th September, “B” and “C” Companies moved to trenches south of Ginchy for an attack at 6 a.m.
“The Bosche machine-gunners now kept up a slow and very deadly fire, and anyone who popped his head above his shell hole was hit.”
“We made two attacks on September 13th and I am pleased to say that I came through them without a scratch. We took 600 yards of trench and many prisoners.
On September 15th we were engaged in the “Big Push” and made a splendid show.”
The advance began with an interval of 150 yards between companies, and came at once under heavy machine gun fire from the right front, and it was almost at once found that the attacking battalion was held up and unable to get on, so the Foresters dug in some 150 yards in rear of it.
As the morning went on both battalions began to incur many casualties, and at 9.30 a patrol sent out from ‘B’ company to reconnoitre the German trench running north from the Quadrilateral in front of the Leicesters, where men in British helmets could be seen, reported the trench strongly held and heavily wired; of this patrol the non-commissioned officer in charge was killed and two men wounded.
Towards the afternoon an enemy counter-attack seemed about to develop from the direction of Les Boeufs, but it was broken up by rifle fire from the Foresters and the Guards on their left. Casualties were mounting up.
The Battalion War Diary notes that the strength of the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters was 681 Officers and Men going into action on the 12th September. By the 19th September 17 Officers and 421 Other ranks were killed, missing or wounded.
He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, the memorial to the missing of the Somme.
He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
*Extracts from: 9th Service Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters.Nott’s and Derby Regiment during the First World War. A tribute to the men who served in World War One 1914-1919. By kind permission of Steve Morse
© Ann Lucas