The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6657) Private William Charles Woods, 18th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.299
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 25 October 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Charis May, the story for this day was on (6657) Private William Charles Woods, 18th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6657 Private William Charles Woods, 18th Battalion, AIF
DOW 6 October 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 25 October 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Charles Woods, who died of wounds in Belgium in the First World War.

William Woods was born in 1896, the eldest of three sons of William and Rose Woods of Euroka, near Kempsey on the New South Wales mid-north coast. Widely known as a “Wick”, he was “much admired for his steadiness and general manly bearing”. After attending Euroka Public School, he worked as a farmer. He also played football and paraded part-time with the local Militia regiment.

Woods enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Kempsey in January 1917, and the Euroka Community organised a farewell in the barn of Mr J.L. Corbey. There Woods was presented with gifts to celebrate his enlistment and wish him a speedy return from the front. After a few short weeks of training at Liverpool Camp in Sydney, Woods embarked for the training camps in England with a reinforcement group for the 18th Battalion. He spent several more months training on the Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire, and embarked for France in September 1917.

By then the focus of operations had shifted north into Belgium, where the British were conducting a major offensive which had been successful in breaking out of the Ypres Salient. Woods’ first major battle on the Western Front was at Menin Road on 20 September, after which the battalion consolidated its gains on the edge of Polygon Wood in preparation for the attack that followed six days later. The 18th Battalion returned to Ypres and spent the following week in camp at Wippenhoek before returning up the line where it participated in the assault at Broodseinde on 4 October 1917.

In the following days work parties from the 18th Battalion brought Stokes mortars, duckboards, and small-arms ammunition up the line ahead of the next advance towards Passchendaele village. On 5 October German artillery shelled the battalion. Eight men were killed and 11 were wounded during the bombardment. Woods was among the wounded, having been hit in the arm and back by shell fragments, and was evacuated to the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearance Station near Poperinge, where he died the following day. Aged 21 at the time of his death, Woods was buried at nearby Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

The loss of such a popular member of the community shocked the village of Euroka, who later erected a memorial to Woods in the yard of his former school. His grieving family inserted the following epitaph in the local newspaper several days after receiving the dreadful news.

For God, King and Country he fought
Somewhere in France he fell;
Little did we think when he left Australia
It would be our last farewell.

William Woods’ name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private William Woods, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6657) Private William Charles Woods, 18th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)