Harry Cecil Woods was born in Brighton, England on 26th July 1886. His mother wasWilhelmina Sanders (named as next of kin on his Attestation Papers when he enlisted). She appears on the 1881 census on Ancestry.co.uk as Wilhelmina Tassell who was born in 1858 in Wye, Kent, England. She was a professional Governess living at Sextries Farm in Nackington, Kent. She was employed by Robert Collard a Farmer of 300 Acres employing 10 labourers and 1 boy. She was twenty three years of age and unmarried.
The 1891 census lists a Wilhelmina Woods aged 29, who was born in 1862. I believe this to be Wilhelmina Tassell who was living with her son Harry C. Woods in Clueslay Road, Battersea, Clapham London. Her status is unclear but she appears to either be married or widowed. Her son Harry C. Woods was 4 years of age and had been born in Brighton. There was also a servant living at the premises by the name of Kate Bouret aged 17.
Wilhelmina Tassell married Henry John Sanders in 1894. (England and Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837-1915 on Ancestry)
The 1901 census reveals that Wilhemina Sanders, aged 40 who was born in Wye, Kent, was living at The Grange, Robertsbridge, Sussex with her husband. Head of the family was Henry J. Sanders aged 40 who was born in Essex and was a Corn Merchant. Cecil Woods aged 14, was described as ‘Ward’ in relation to the Head of the family. Also at this address was Dorothy Sanders, daughter aged 3. She had been born in Ilford, Essex. Also listed was Susan Baseter, aged 21 born in Lowerstoft, Suffolk a General Servant.
Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 on Ancestry shows that the Sanders family emigrated to Canada on 9th October 1904 departing from Liverpool aboard the S.S. Southwark bound for Montreal, Quebec. Their final destination was Winnipeg. Mr C. Woods was shown to be on the same passenger list, 18 years of age, his trade is noted as Farmer.
The 1906 Census for Canada shows that the Sanders family was living in the Province of Alberta in Township 51. It appears that they had a small farm or smallholding as the census shows that they owned 2 horses, 1 milk cow and 7 cattle. Head, Henry Saunders was 43 years of age and his wife Wilhelmina 45. Dorothy E. (Edna) was 8 and Cecil Woods a Servant was 20 years of age.
I cannot trace the family in 1911 but they do appear on a Canadian passenger List, 1865-1935 dated 4th May 1913. It appears that they were on their way back to Canada from Australia bound for Vancouver, British Columbia aboard the Zealandia. They stated that they were tourists and given ages were John Henry Sanders 50, Wilhelmina, 50, Edna, 11 and Harry Cecil, 26.
The family is shown on the 1921 Census for Canada as living in Victoria, British Columbia at 1527, Coldharour Rd. Head of the household Henry J Sanders, Retired was 60 years of age, his wife W. Sanders age 60 and their daughter Edna age 20.
Harry’s army records tell us that he enlisted into the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 19th August 1915 at Victoria, British Columbia. He named his mother Wilhelmina Sanders as his next of kin. His address was Cold Harbour Rd. Victoria B.C. His date of birth was 26th July 1886 and his trade was Motor Mechanic. On Harry’s medical form he was described as being 5ft 4 ins tall with a fair complexion, light brown eyes and brown hair.
After basic training in Canada, Harry embarked for England and arrived on 30th November 1915 when he was posted to an Army camp to complete training. He was deployed to France on 8th March 1916, landing in Boulogne on 9th March 1916. On 16th April 1916, Harry was admitted to No. 10 Canadian Field Hospital after contracting Influenza and returned to duty on 24th April 1916. He was again admitted to hospital (no. 6 C.F.H.) on 1st May with Neurasthenia which is a condition associated with extreme tiredness, lesions, irritability, possibly as a result of early discharge from hospital after contracting Influenza.
On 10th May 1916 he was given the rank of Corporal but was again hospitalised for a neck problem on 22nd May 1916 when he spent 37 days in treatment.
Harry rejoined his unit on 30th June 1916 and remained in the field until 1st July 1917. He was granted fifteen days leave before he returned to duty in the field on 5th January 1918 when he was transferred to 9th Bn., Canadian railway Troops. Harry remained in the field until December 1918 when he was transferred with the Canadain Railway Troops to Whitby Army Camp in England. On 18th January 1919, Harry proceeded to Kinmel Army Camp in North Wales.
Sadly Harry contracted Bronchial Pneumonia, and was admitted to the Canadian General Hospital on 7th February where he died at 18.30 on 13th February 1919. On Harry’s medical notes there was the following comment from the doctor. This was a severe case from the start, complicated by diffuse Bronchial Pneumonia of which the patient died.
(from Library of Canada Archives)
Kinmel Park Camp was a segregation camp used to house Canadian Soldiers awaiting repatriation to Canada after the end of WW1. Unfortunately the conditions at that time were extremely harsh with a lack of every kind of commodity, the camp was overcrowded and the services were poor, there were shortages of clothing, food and blankets. As a result of this situation, a vast number of servicemen and women became ill and many succumbed to the Influenza Epidemic or complications associated with this infection.
Harry was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. All his possessions were sent to his mother.
Harry Cecil Woods is buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan, North Wales.
He is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War memorial.
If you wish to read about the formation of the Canadian Railway Troops, please follow the link.