John Woodman

Private John Woodman was born in Southwark. He was working as a barman before he joined the regiment in 1888, aged 18. Twelve years later John would serve with the regiment in the South African Wars.

In February 1900 Woodman (known as Jack) was seriously wounded in the thigh just 400 yards from Boer trenches during the daylight attack at Paardeberg. He endured lying injured in the full glare of the sun for the remainder of the day, before being brought back to a field hospital under cover of darkness. His wounds were bad enough for him to be sent back to England. He recovered in Aldershot Military Hospital before being sent to the regimental depot in Richmond at the end of April 1900.

The four page letter from John Woodman’s personal archive that we have chosen to feature here was written by his wife, Lizzie on 8 February. The contents are endearing, but what’s also interesting is the envelope, which shows the efforts taken to reunite Woodman with his mail. By the time the letter reached Bloemfontein, Woodman was in hospital. The letter was forwarded to Green Point Hospital but by this time Woodman was on a troopship home. The letter missed him at Aldershot and Strensall in York but finally, three months after it was written in London, Woodman received it at Richmond Depot on 9 May 1900.

Kindly Forward. The efforts taken to get this letter to its recipient are demonstrated on the envelope.

The letter includes a message, written in pencil on the last page, from Jack’s young daughter, May, asking her father to return home soon and take her for a walk. Woodman was discharged from the army in November 1900. A year later he received his war pension of 12p per day.

You can read the transcript of Lizzie’s letter to Jack here.