Captain Frank Woodcock 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment
Captain Woodcock, who was only 22 years of age, was the youngest son of John and Elizabeth Woodcock of Driffield Yorkshire. He was killed in action during an assault on the 15th of September 1916.
Frank was one of 6 children having 2 brothers and 3 sisters, the family must have been “comfortably off” because the 1901 census records his father as “living on his own means” and they had a servant called Margaret.
He was educated at Bridlington School, where he was in the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). He became a Second Lieutenant in a Territorial Battalion in December 1912. He was promoted Lieutenant in April 1914 and then to Captain in May 1915.
The Regimental Gazette recorded his death as follows: “The death of Captain Woodcock deprives his battalion of a very capable Company Commander and a very popular Officer.
Despite his youth, he very soon proved himself an Officer of much resource and dauntless courage.
He was wounded when wiring in front of the trenches in July 1915, and returned to France in January 1916 when he succeeded to the command of a Company. It was in this capacity that he showed himself a cool and capable Commander with great initiative and pluck, always setting a fine example to his men when any dangerous work had to be performed.
He was twice mentioned in despatches.
Captain Woodcock is buried at Flatiron Copse cemetery in France.
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Information submitted by Liz Thompson, a resident of Richmond. Michael Joseph Kavanagh (Liz’s Great-Uncle) was born in Walsall, Staffordshire on 20 February 1879. He joined the South Staffordshire Regiment, serving in the Boer War in the Cape Colony, the Transvaal and at Wittegbergin. At the outbreak of the First World War he reenlisted into the same regiment as a Private and advanced to the rank of Colour Sergeant. He was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in January 1915 and promoted to Lieutenant in September of the same year. He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme and was awarded the Military Cross. The citation published in the London Gazette stated “For conspicuous gallantry during operations. Though knocked over and wounded by a shell, he took over command of a machine gun company two days later, and, suffering from shock and considerable pain, stuck to his command and did good work”. He was promoted to Acting Captain on 8 March 1918. On his retirement in November 1919, Michael Joseph Kavanagh was granted the full rank of Captain. In later life Captain Kavanagh moved into local politics, being elected to the position of Mayor of Walsall in 1945. During the Second World War he served as Platoon Commander of No. 21 Platoon of the 27th Staffordshire Home Guard.
Submitted by Josephine Parker. My Uncle – Reginald James Owen Thompson (son of Owen Thompson who is featured elsewhere on the Ribbon of Remembrance) lied about his age and forged his mothers signature to join the Leicester Fusiliers at the age of just 14. He served in France and later, after the First World War, he served in China.
Peter Seaden-Jones visited us at a drop-in session at Richmond Station. From a photograph of his grandfather, we have managed to piece together the key details of Ernest John Pilcher’s war story. Ernest John Pilcher was born in Pietermaritzberg, Natal, South Africa in around 1881. According to the 1891 census, he appears to live in Chester as the 9 year old son of Frederick and Lucy Pilcher. He has a sister Edith and two brothers Archie and Arthur. His siblings are born in the U.K. but his father’s occupation as an Army Warrant Officer may explain Ernest’s birth in South Africa. On the 26th of December 1907 at the age of 26 he married Florence Alltimes at the Balham Hill Ascension church in Streatham. Florence was 23 years old at the time of their wedding. His occupation is recorded as a grocer. In the 1911 census Ernest and Florence were recorded as living at 23, Sussex street in Pimlico. He is listed as “Manager in the business of grocery stores”. Marjorie Edith their daughter was just 2 years old. At the age of 34 years and 6 months he enlisted in the army on the 22nd of November 1915. By this time his attestation record shows that he and Florence have a second daughter Peggy Dorothy born on the 6th of July 1913. Their address is now 20, Bellenden Road, Camberwell and his occupation is recorded as a “Traveller”. Although originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery he transferred to…