ARTHUR FRANCIS WOODLAND
Royal Berkshire Regiment 8th Battalion
Killed In Action 25/09/1915
LOOS MEMORIAL, Panel 93 to 95.
Details on this memorial can be found here (Opens in a new window)
Son of Francis and Clara Woodland, of Chingford, Essex; husband of Isabella Woodland, of Mill House, Rettendon Common, Chelmsford. Essex.
Arthur lived on Kings Head Hill until the time that he married Isabella.
Born: Chingford, Essex
Enlisted: Walthamstow, Essex
Residence: Chingford, Essex
Click the photos to enlarge them
Photos above courtesy of Neil Hallett
The Battalion was formed in Reading in September 1914. Before they went to France, they undertook training on Salisbury Plain and in the Reading area.
The image below was published in The Reading Standard
The following is a transcript of Arthur`s and his battalions short experience of the horrors of war from when they landed in France to the day of Arthur`s untimely death at the Battle Of Loos.
Saturday 7th August 1915 England, WARMINSTER
12 Noon. Detrained.
SOUTHAMPTON DOCK. 6pm. Embarked on R.M.S. Viper. Gave orders for issue of life belts in case of need. I am now of opinion that there should be an Army Order that a lifebelt should be issued to every man as he embarks, as the difficulty of issue would be enormous in such a crowded ship and the issue could not be completed in much more than the 10 minutes required to sink a ship by torpedo.
Sunday 8th August 1915 France, HAVRE
7:10AM. Disembarked and marched to Concentration Camp. Heat very oppressive.
Monday 9th August 1915 France, HAVRE
Tuesday 10th August 1915 France, ST. OMER
11:15AM. Detrained and marched to ARQUES. Heat very oppressive.
Arrived and went into billets.
Sunday 15th August 1915 France, ARQUES
Departed on route march. Weather cool after rain.
Arrived. About one dozen men suffered from sore feet due to new boots issued to whole battalion on the day previous to departure from WARMINSTER. Weather cool, men marched well.
Monday 16th August 1915 France, HAM-EN-ARTOIS
Arrived. Angle iron of one field kitchen broke across bend near axle. Billets at ORPHANAGE.
Tuesday 17th August 1915 France, BETHUNE
2:30pm. D.CO. marched to trenches to be attached to 2nd R. Sussex Regt in Z.I.
6pm. Remaining companies marched to trenches in front of NOYELLES LES VERMELLES. A. Co. attached to Coldstream Guards. B. Co. attached to LONDON SCOTTISH. C. Co. to 1st Bn Black Watch. Head Qrs was billeted at SAILLY - LA - BOURSE. Transport and QM stores at LA BOURSE. Fighting strength 27 Officers, 765 Other ranks. This excludes 1 Officer and 27 Other ranks M.G. Section who were left at WISQUES on 14.8.15 for a course at the school there.
Wednesday 18th August 1915 France, SAILLY LA BOURSE
All companies visited by C.O. who had a good opportunity of forming a general impression of the spirit pervading the trenches.
Thursday 19th August 1915 France, SAILLY LA BOURSE
Companies came out of trenches. One German sniper who had been sniping D. Coy trenches during the night was shot and killed by Major Brakspear at 4.14AM on this day as he was crawling back to his trenches with grass and branches tied round him.
Returned to billets in ORPHANAGE.
Sunday 22nd August 1915 France, BETHUNE
NOYELLES LEZ VERMELLES. 7.20pm.
Arrived and relieved 1st Scots Guards in Reserve billets. Working party 2 Officers and 100 men sent to support trenches from 9pm to 1AM.
Monday 23rd August 1915 France, NOYELLES LEZ VERMELLES
9AM. Working party to CLARK`S KEEP 2 Offs and 100 men 9AM till 1pm and another from 1pm to 5pm. Another to support trenches 1/2 9pm to 1AM and another to dig a new communication trench along the HULLUCH Road. The two latter parties were shelled but had no casualties. A working party of the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers working close at hand were very talkative and noisy and had several casualties. 2 parties of 10 men each sent out to work under Brigade H.Q. orders during the night.
Tuesday 24th August 1915 France, NOYELLES LEZ VERMELLES
Two working parties of 2 Offs and 100 men each. One of 50 men to clear SUSSEX TRENCH. One of 50 men to carry sandbags to Y.2. The two parties were shelled but had no casualties.
8:15pm. Marched from billets on relief by 1st Bn L.N. Lancs Regt who were 3/4 hour late owing to delays on the road.
Arrived and went into billets.
Friday 27th August 1915 France, VERQUIN
The Battalion was inspected on parade by Br Gen A.J. Reddie D.S.O. Comdg 1st Brigade, 1st Division, IV Corps 1st Army to which formation the Battalion was appointed on taking over from the Scots Guards. General Reddie welcomed the Battalion to the Brigade and said that from what he had seen of the turn out on parade he thought the Battalion would worthily uphold the fine traditions of the Brigade and of the 1st Army, which in the past fighting had won the respect of both French allies and German enemies. He congratulated the C.O. on having such a fine battalion. He afterwards inspected the Transport, and said that all were willing to assist us in every possible way. Certainly so far we have received every possible help on our way.
Sunday 29th August 1915 France, VERQUIN
Church Service on the lawn at the back of the Chateau. One Divisional Band played. Our surroundings were beautiful and appropriate; and the service appreciated by all.
The field kitchens of two more companies which broke across the angle now in the same way as that referred to on 16.8.15 are still under repairs with the Ordnance. Three out of the four kitchens broke at the same point before they had been in use three weeks. The kitchens are of inferior pattern to others made in England as no baking or roasting can be done in these. This appears to be a serious and unnecessary deficiency.
Tuesday 31st August 1915 France, VERQUIN
2:30pm. Marched by road.
Arrived and went into billets.
Wednesday 1st September 1915 France, AMES
10:30AM. The Battalion was inspected by Maj General R.C.B. Haking C.B. Comd 8 1st Division. He remarked that much of the clothing was dirty. This is due to the grease from the cooking pots and dishes when men are clearing up as mess orderlies. This cannot be brushed off and it is difficult to obtain new suits. Otherwise he appeared pleased and thought them a fine lot.
Friday 17th September 1915 France, AMES
Major Gen A.E.A. Holland C.B. M.V.O. D.S.O. visited the range and saw the men firing. Afterwards returned and had tea in H.Q. mess.
During the past fortnight the attack has been constantly practiced from trenches dug by the battalion on arrival which so pleased the Brigadier that he took them over for the use of the Brigade. The bombers have been constantly practiced and have much improved. 32 per company have thrown live bombs. The Reserve machine gun section has been through a course and were well reported on by the Brigade M.G. Officer. The smoke helmets issued are going to be troublesome in the attack. I am arranging to have them pinned down to the coat behind with a safety pin and have some elastic let in to draw them close round the throat as there would not be time to let them down in a charge on to a trench and tuck them in the coat.
Saturday 18th September 1915 France, AMES
3PM. Capt Coote together with 5 other Officers, 20 NCOs and 284 men went on fatigue to the trenches to carry up cylinders filled with chlorine gas into the front line.
3PM. The Commanding Officer gave final instructions to all NCOs as to the method in which the attack was to be carried out.
6PM. The Commanding Officer received orders to leave the Battalion and proceed to ADEN on duty.
Monday 20th September 1915 France, AMES
8:30AM.The Second in Command and Company Commanders visited the trenches to arrange the final dispositions of their companies.
6:0PM. The gas fatigue party did not return from the trenches so their rations and packs were sent to BOIS MARQUET (near ALLOVAGNE).
2:30PM. Battalion paraded on bombing ground to watch an exhibition of smoke bombs. Experiments were made to see if men could advance in the smoke without being seen. The results were very satisfactory and all agreed that the smoke bombs would be most useful to conceal an unprotected flank.
Tuesday 21st September 1915 France, AMES
8:30AM. Left and marched by road to BOIS MARQUET (near ALLOVAGNE).
11:00AM. Arrived and made bivouac there. Gas fatigue party rejoined Battalion.
6:0PM. Commanding Officer read to all Officers the Battalion Operation Orders for the attack
Wednesday 22nd September 1915 France, BOIS MARQUET
Left BOIS MARQUET and marched by road to GOSNET where all packs were stored in the brewery. Men were given blankets which they fixed to the back of their belts. They carried their haversacks on their backs containing cardigan, mess tin, iron ration and waterproof sheet.
11.0AM. Left GOSNET marched on road to wood between VAUDRICOURT and VERQUIN where we arrived at 12.0AM and make a bivouac.
Wood at VAUDRICOURT. 7PM. Marched on road. "A" and "D" companies went to trenches at SAILLY-LABOURSE. "B" and "C" companies to trenches at NOYELLES-LEZ-VERMELLES.
Thursday 23rd September 1915 France, Trenches at SAILLY-LABOURSE
11:0AM. 1 Officer and four guides/company visited the trenches.
7:0PM. Moved into front trenches at YI, to relieve the Welsh Regiment. Half C. Coy occupied the firing-line trench, C. Coy less half-company, 2nd line, B. Coy in the 3rd line, A and D Coys in DALY`S PASSAGE.
Friday 24th September 1915 France, Y.1.
EVENING. Half A Coy and half D Coy relieved half C Coy in the firing-line, A Coy less half and D Coy less half, occupied the 2nd line trenches, together with C Coy, less half Coy, half of C Coy moving to the trench occupied by B Coy.
Saturday 25th September 1915 France, Y.1.
5:50AM. The intensive Bombardment, preparatory to the attack on the German position SOUTH of the HULLOCH ROAD, began, the enemy`s artillery at once replying, though they inflicted little damage and caused few casualties in our front-line trenches. Simultaneously with the bombardment, the gad company began to operate the gas cylinders which were in the front-line trench, and there then occurred several casualties from poisoning, caused it supposed, by leakages in the cylinders.
6:28AM. The gas now ceased, and smoke bombs were thrown from the front-line trenches, proving entirely successful in screening our Advance.
6:30AM. The fire of our artillery lifted, and Battalion advanced in quick time, to assault the first line Enemy Trenches, the 10th Gloucester Regt being on the right, the 2nd Gordons on the left. The advance was opposed by heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, while the wire in front of the German trenches was found to be scarcely damaged, and it was in cutting a way through this obstacle that most of the regiment`s heavy casualties occurred. Shrapnel and machine-gun combined to play havoc in our ranks, and an additional disaster was the blowing back of our gas, by the wind, into our own ranks. However, after a struggle, the German first line was penetrated, and the trench found to be practically deserted, the enemy apparently, having deserted it earlier in the day, merely leaving behind sufficient men to work the machine-guns. Mainly overland, but with some men working up the communication trench, our line advanced successively to the 2nd and 3rd German lines, and met with but slight opposition. From the 3rd line a further advance was made, and an Enemy Field Gun captured. A 4th line German trench was also seized, but being in so incomplete a state that it afforded little cover from rifle fire and none whatever from shrapnel. COLONEL WALTON ordered the line to be withdrawn to the 3rd German line trench, and this position was occupied until the Battalion was relieved.
10:0PM. COLONEL WALTON was ordered by the Regimental Medical Officer to leave the trenches for medical attention, as he was suffering from the effects of gas-poisoning, and the command of the Battalion passed, for the night, into the hand of 2nd Lieut T.B. LAWRENCE.
6:30PM circa. The following is a report by Lieut C. GENTRY-BIRCH:- "At this point (i.e. when the Battalion was negotiating in German wire) about 50 of the 8th R. Berks R became separated from the remainder of the Battalion and attached themselves to the Gordons advancing and taking the German guns in the 4th line German trench. They then advanced and occupied the road WEST of HULLUCH. We were unable to advance further owing to our artillery fire, which was falling short. We waited for support to come up, in the meantime starting to dig ourselves in."
3:30PM "At 3.30PM the Germans counter-attacked, driving in our flanks and as the support had not yet arrived we were compelled to retire, holding a position about 100 yds WEST of the road. The Berks numbers were reduced to about half. On receiving news that the supports were coming up we again advanced to the road which we proceeded to place in a state of defense."
11:30PM. "At 11.30PM the Germans again counter-attacked in large numbers driving in our right flank. We retired to the position we had before held in the afternoon. The Germans continued to push the counter-attack. Our support line then opened fire and we were caught between the two fires. We then made our way as well as possible to our supporting line (the German 4th line). Only 6 of the Berkshires returned safely. The Germans continued to push the counter-attack, but suffered heavily and were driven back. C. GENTRY-BIRCH LT."