The Ravages of WW1

Contributed by Peter

My grandfather, John Wood, enlisted in the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1899 aged 21. I have only two pictures of him, the first taken I believe in 1913 which shows him as a proud, smart soldier turned out to perfection in his best uniform for this formal portrait. The second picture, taken I believe in 1918, shows him with his wife and three daughters the youngest of which, on her mother's knee is my mother. This picture shows that the ravages of WW1, during which he was mentioned in dispatches for "Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field" have aged John Wood far beyond the time separating the two pictures. Four years of unspeakable horror have turned the smart, proud man into a dishevelled, battle-weary soldier in a crumpled uniform, hands in pockets and pride in his appearance aparently abandoned. At a time when we all watch with heavy hearts those aircraft landing at RAF Lyneham I can't help wondering how the conscience of our country nearly a century ago coped with the news that on the first day alone of the battle of the Somme 19,240 British soldiers died, and that a 44% casualty rate during that conflict resulted in a total of 2,367,000 British killed and wounded.

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Left picture 1912 right picture 1917


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