Henry Woodhouse

west yorkshire regiment badge2nd Lieutenant, 2nd Battalion (attached to 9th (Service) Battalion), Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), (formerly TR/6/3321 Training Reserve Battalion) killed in action, 4th November 1918, aged 19

Born at York on 6th December 1898, Henry was the second youngest son and one of the seven children of Matthew and Mary Eliza Woodhouse, both of whom were from Whitby. The family had moved to Crowle around 1904 when Henry’s father took the position of Superintendent of the new Axholme Joint Railway. They initially lived at The Hollies on the High Street, later moving to The Woodlands. Educated at Goole Secondary School, on leaving in December 1915, Henry joined the clerical staff of the London Joint Stock Bank, Headingley, Leeds.

Henry attested for the army at Leeds on 2nd March 1917. Categorised as Class A1 he was mobilised for service with the 11th Training Reserve Battalion at Brocton Camp, Cannock Chase, on 20th March 1917 (the Crowle Advertiser has it as  23rd March and the Epworth Bells as 31st March 1917).  On 27th August he gained a promotion to Lance Corporal.

On completion of his training Henry was to the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Formerly a Reserve training unit, they had been mobilised for service in late 1917 and on 1st December 1917, Henry was posted to them in Cork, Ireland where they were engaged in tackling the Rebellion that had broken out there.

In August 1917 Henry had applied for a commission as an officer and on 4th January 1918 permission finally came through and he was released from the Lincolnshire’s to be posted to the 20th Officer Cadet Battalion at Crookham for initial officer training. His training was unfortunately interrupted on 26th January as he developed tonsillitis, which meant a short stay in the Aldershot Military Hospital, being discharged on 6th February 1918.

Henry proved satisfactory in his training and 14th June 1918 he was appointed as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), being  ‘gazetted’ on 25th June 1918. (The note on his medal card stating he was commissioned on 3rd July 1916 is incorrect – he was not in the army on that date).

Following a period with the Reserve Battalion, Henry was then allocated to the 1/2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) and came out to France to join them on 1st October 1918. Shortly afterwards he was posted to be attached to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s. In France since 1915 the battalion has seen a great deal of action and consequently lost a number of officers in the Spring Offensive and the early days of the Allied counter-attack, so Henry was probably a temporary transfer to bring them back up to compliment.

By October 1918 the German army was in full retreat under the Allied Offensive. Victory at the Battle of the Selle had been so successful, pushing the German’s back into the Forêt du Mormal (Forest of Mormal) that the British had to call a temporary halt to their advance as they were so far ahead of their supply lines. When it began again on 4th November it was the last great action of the war and is more noted for the number of German soldiers wanting to surrender than the resistance they put up.

There were however certain pockets of stiff resistance and possibly the strongest of the whole attack was that which faced Henry and the 9th Duke of Wellington’s at the village of Futoy, north of Englefontaine. Required to tackle both a heavy artillery barrage and strong machine gun emplacements to capture the village, in the two hour battle that ensued they received the highest number of casualties of any unit in action that day. 13 officers and 226 other ranks killed in action.

One of the officers was 2nd Lieutenant Henry Woodhouse. Initially buried in a battlefield grave close to where he fell, following the armistice his body was exhumed and Henry was reburied in the Communal Cemetery Extension, Romeries.

News of Henry’s death reached Crowle at 8.00am on Monday 11th November 1918.