308536 PTE. J. W. WOODCOCK. K.L.R.
John William Woodcock was born in the third quarter of 1884 in Bamber Bridge. His father was George Woodcock (b. 1864 in Bamber Bridge), a cotton weaver by trade; his mother was Mary Ann Parkinson (also b. 1864 in Bamber Bridge). George and Mary Ann were married in January 1884, they had 9 children, 6 of whom survived: John William was the eldest, then James (b. 1887), Ralph Joseph (b. 1890), Margaret (b. 1893), Vincent (b. 1897), Silvester (b. 1901, d. 1902), and Martha Ellen (b. 1903).
In 1911, all the surviving siblings except James were living with their parents at 1 Brownedge Lane and all were working in the cotton mill. John was a weaver like his father.
John William Woodcock joined up probably in late 1914 and was posted to the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), initially with service number 6615, which was later changed to 308536. He was posted to 1/8 Battalion. 1/8 (Irish) Bn was raised in Liverpool in August 1914 and landed in France in May 1915. In 1915 and early 1916, the Bn was moved between various different Brigades and Divisions, but in January 1916 the Bn became part of 164th Brigade in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, with whom it fought on the Somme.
The Division joined the Battle of the Somme in late July 1916, and was engaged in an attack on Guillemont between 8 and 14 August, during which 1/8 KLR suffered many casualties, though the line advanced between 300-500 yards. The Division returned to the line on 4/5 September and prepared to engage in the Battle for Ginchy which was launched at 4.45 in the afternoon of 9 September. Eventually Ginchy was taken but again not without significant losses. The Division was relieved on 12 September and back in the line on 17th, near Flers. The Bn was not engaged in any serious fighting between 17 and 25 September, indeed during that period only 3 men were killed. The 1/8Bn War Diary reports that they were in the trenches near Flers (between Mametz and Gueudecort) from 21-24 September, but no casualties were recorded. Nevertheless, it was on 22 September that John William was assumed killed and his body was never recovered, but the precise circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. It’s possible that he was reported missing in the earlier action but his death not confirmed until the later date. He was 32 years old.
His effects of £2 16s 5d were returned to his father and after the War he also received a War Gratuity of £3.
Service No: 308536
Date of Death: 22/09/1916
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 1st/8th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 1 D 8 B and 8 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
John’s brothers Ralph Joseph and Vincent also joined up: in December 1915, Ralph followed John into the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), with service number 65269, though later he was transferred to the Labour Corps, receiving a medical discharge suffering from neurasthenia in July 1919; Vincent joined 286 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery in May 1915 (service no. 680682), he also received a medical discharge in February 1919, having been wounded in action.