Private Charles WOODWARD

Canadian Infantry
(Saskatchewan Regiment)
28th Battalion
Service Number:
Date of Death:
15 September 1916
Cemetery / Memorial:

Personal History:

Charles was born at 37 Hollins Street, Buxton, in the December quarter 1890 (baptised at St John's Church, 18 February 1891). He was the son of Isaac (Carter) and Hannah (née Redfern) Woodward. (1891 Census RG 12/2779). (On his enlistment he gave his birthdate as 3rd December 1892 though more likely 1890.)

He had five older siblings, Helen, Fred, Hilda, Frank and Joseph, and five young ones, Claude, Clifford, Vauncey, Ellis and Sidney (1901 Census RG 13/3269). In 1901 the family had moved to 14 New Market Street. Charles was still living at home, but no occupation is listed.

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21242) the family had moved again to Byfield House, Buxton, and Tom had been added to the family. Charles emigrated to Canada in 1909 and was employed at Molson's Bank, Port Arthur, Ontario. In 1911 he was lodging with the Shober family in Ancaster, Wentworth, Ontario (Canadian Census).

Brother Clifford was killed in action on 16th August 1917. Brother Claude also served as did Fred Woodward who enlisted 25 November 1915 and Vauncey. [see Footnotes below]

Military History:

Charles enlisted into the 28th Battalion (Machine Section) of the Canadian Army in
November 1914, arriving in England in May 1915, when he had a short leave at home.
At the time of his death he had been in France about one year (i.e. since about
September 1915), and in the meantime had suffered from concussion, on two
occasions from shell-shock and had been treated at the base hospital.

'The Buxton Advertiser' reported that his brother L/Cpl. Vauncey Woodward, had
arrived home unexpectedly on leave, after 2 years at the front, on the same day as
news of Charles' death had been received by the family. He had "... had the good
luck to see his brother, Charles, a short time ago in France."

In reporting Charles' death, 'The Advertiser' went on to publish a letter, received by
the family, from 'P Hetherington', Paymasters Office, 28th Battalion, "Somewhere
in France", saying, in part:

"... I thought it my duty to let you know that he fell in action on the 15th of September.
He died as a man, he did not suffer long and seemed to be content. It is hard for me
to write this to you and I know it is much harder for you to receive it. He died for a great
cause and I think prepared to go. ..."  He went on to add a P.S. to the effect that a parcel had arrived for Charles - presumably from home - after his death, and had been divided up between his comrades, from which he had acquired the family address.

A second letter, to Miss Woodward - though the 'Advertiser' does not say which, also from Mr Hetherington, added: "... It is good to know you have taken the letter bravely. You know it is not a pleasant job to know and sometimes it hurts very much for a stranger to write. .... On the 15th of September we made an attack on the German front line which was very successful, as you may have seen in the papers. ..."
Charles' battalion was part of the 2nd Canadian Division which sailed in May 1915 and arrived in England shortly afterward. It completed training at Shorncliffe and crossed to France 15th -18th September 1915 to form part of the 6th Canadian Brigade. Thereafter the Division fought in many of the major actions of the war, including many phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

Most significant, however, is The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th - 22nd September 1916) which was a renewal of the offensive finally broke through the area that had proved to be so difficult since 14th July. Using a small number of tanks for the first time in history, the Army finally captured High Wood and pressed on through Flers and up the Bapaume road to Courcelette.

The letters to the family seem to suggest that Charles was killed in the initial attack on the first day of this Battle. His body or his burial place was lost and he is now remembered with honour on the Vimy Memorial. The father of Pt. 74024 James Inglis Raeside, who died of wounds suffered in the same action on the 17th October, received a letter from the Battalion C.O., which named Charles as one of the casualties, and also as a ".. very great friend .." of James. The letter names three others killed in the same action Charles Woodward lost his life: Pt. 73097 C S Ball; Sgt. 73004 Stark, and Pt. 73165 J W Barlow;


· Charles' younger brother L/Cpl. Clifford WOODWARD, was also killed in action on 16 August 1917.

· Younger brother Sgt. 49745 Vauncey WOODWARD also Served with the Royal Engineers, as did
  Pt. Fred WOODWARD (pictured right) who enlisted on 25 November 1915. He arrived in England in
  early July 1916, serving with the 94th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

· Another younger brother to answer the call was Trooper 3380 Claude WOODWARD, (pictured right)
  who enlisted in the Royal Horse Guards on 16 November 1914. He later transferred to (Trooper 4950)
  Guards Machine Gun Regiment.

· The Buxton Advertiser, 15 July and 21 October 1916

Link to CWGC Record
The Vimy Memorial
Charles' name on the Vimy Memorial
Pt Charles Woodward
28th Battalion Machin Gun Section
28th Battalion Machine Gun Section
(Pt. Woodward is 2nd row from front, 3rd from right)
about the Battle of Fler-Courcelette