Lieutenant Robert Gartside Wood

Robert Gartside Wood was born in Stalybridge on June 10, 1890. His father, Robert Wood, was a licensed victualer (landlord of a pub) and later became an alderman of Stalybridge. In 1911 Robert Gartside Wood was living with his family at the Fox Tavern on Ridge Hill Lane and working as a clerk at a cotton mill but by 1914 he was working at the Stalybridge Gas Works.

He was commissioned into the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on February 20, 1914 and sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them through their training and preparations for action. Whilst in Egypt he was promoted to full Lieutenant on November 4, 1914 along with several other junior officers.

Lieutenant Wood landed with the Battalion in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 and the 1/9th went into the line for the first time on May 21st. Divisional orders were to advance the line 100 yards by digging new fire trenches at night, under cover of darkness. The 1/9th achieved their goal but the 1/10th Manchesters, immediately to their left, failed and so were compelled to try to achieve the same goal but now in broad daylight. Major Richard B. Nowell in a letter to Alderman Wood described what happened and it was published in the Ashton Reporter on November 13, 1915.

The letter stated that Lt. Wood went from his own lines to the assistance of a man wounded in the forward trench of the 10th Manchesters, which was under construction. He reached it in safety, though the approach was swept by machine gun fire, but was shot in the leg immediately after he got out the wounded man. He succeeded in rolling back into the trench, where he in his turn was rescued from drowning in the liquid mud by Private Burke and Private Smith. He was subsequently brought away by these two men, and carried to hospital.

Lt. Wood was by this time recuperating at home and was interviewed for the Ashton Reporter article and stated:

“When I was wounded our surgeon saw that both the ankle bones were broken, and it looked almost impossible for it to heel. He said there was no hope, and on the hospital ship that took me away from the Peninsula they asked me if they might take the leg off. I said I would wait until we got to hospital at Malta to see what they said there. At Malta I was placed under a surgeon who, before being attached to the forces, was the head surgeon in St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. I went under two operations, and after the second it was thought there was no hope of saving my foot. I lay on my back absolutely numb for three months. My foot was saved, and I am recovering very well from the injury.”

Lt. Wood was awarded the Military Cross for his actions that day (Gazetted November 8, 1915) and was later also awarded the French Croix de Guerre (Gazetted February 24, 1916). He received his Military Cross from the King at Buckingham palace on Thursday February 3, 1916.

Regimental records show that he was wounded on May 25, 1915 and spent 69 days in hospital in Malta before being invalided to the UK on August 2nd. After arriving in the UK he spent several weeks in the Stoodly Knowle Park hospital in Torquay recovering.

On September 12, 1917 he was promoted to Captain with precedence from June 1, 1916.  Due to his injuries he did not return to front line duty and instead was transferred to the 191 Prisoner of War Company which was a Labour Corps company that used prisoners of war as skilled but forced labour.

On October 15, 1918 he married Eliza Esther Hardy of Stalybridge at Manchester Cathedral and they settled in Stalybridge on Mottram Old Road. Robert Gartside Wood worked for a bewery until he retired to Blackpool.

Captain Robert Gartside Wood, M.C., died in 1965 in Blackpool. He was 75 years old.