Col. Wilfrid James Woodcock, DSO

medal card woodcock medal card woodcock

Woodcock had been in the mounted infantry in the Boer War, and had commanded four different battalions in the Great War. His service record looks like that of any reasonably successful regimental officer, and he would appear to have been serving in this capacity in Dublin.There is no evidence to show that he was anything other than the commanding officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers in Dublin. He was in the same house as intelligence officers on the IRA hit list, and was shot when they happened upon him during their raid

1878 May 3, born Wigan vol 8c. p38. Son of Henry Woodcock of Bank House, Wigan and Bolnore, Sussex, JP, and sometime mayor of Wigan, b1814, d1891). The family appear to claim Plantagenet blood. His father was a banker.

woodcock 1881 census

1881 census Living with family at Bolnore House, Cuckfield, Sussex. There are 4 daughters and 3 sons.His father has "no active business, living off income from trade, land and dividends" and they have 10 servants


Bolnore House is described as a former mansion, now divided into apartments. South west wing and possibly the north west wing 1852-5 by Decimus Burton for Miss Dealty, south east wing and the attached north west stable block added circa 1878 for owners with the initials HW and north west wing refronted in 1930 and west garden room added for Alexander Drake Kleinwort the banker. Converted into 11 apartments in the 1940s

1891 census Wilfrid is at school at Woodcote, Bournemouth as a boarder.

1898 May 7. Gentleman Cadet Wilfred (sic)James Woodcock, from the Royal Military College, to be Second Lieutenant, vice V. H. A. Awdry. Gazette

1899 Apr 1. The Lancashire Fusiliers, Second Lieutenant to be Lieutenant, on augmentation. -: W. J. Woodcock. Gazette

1900 Feb 20. The Lancashire Fusiliers, Lieutenant Wilfred J Woodcock is seconded for service with the Mounted Infantry in South Africa. Gazette.  1st Malta Coy, 9th Bn. Mounted Infantry

1900 Mar Lieut. Wilfrid Woodcock, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, has left Malta for Africa with the mounted detachment of his regiment.

1900 May 16.The Lancashire Fusiliers, Second Lieutenant W. P. Salt to be Lieutenant, vice W. J. Woodcock, seconded. Gazette

1901 Census He is not in the census. He was in South Africa at the time of the census

1901 Sep 10. Mentioned in Dispatches Gazette

1901 Oct 5. The Lancashire Fusiliers, Lieutenant to be Captains. Wilfred J. .Woodcock, vice 0. C. Wolley-Dod, D.S.O., promoted.. Gazette

1901 Oct 5. The Lancashire Fusiliers, The undermentioned Lieutenant to be Captain. George A, Duncan, vice W. J. Woodcock, seconded for service in South Africa. Gazette

1902 July 29 Captain W. J. Woodcock, Lancashire Fusiliers. Mentioned in Dispatches Gazette

1902 Oct 1. Supernumerary Captain Wilfred J. Woodcock to be Captain, vice W. E. Oakshott. Gazette

marriage woodcock

1907 married Caroline May Lawrie in St Peter's Church, Cranley Gardens. His address is given as 44 Roland Gardens, London SW1

1911 census

1909 Jan/Mar Elizabeth was born Oldham 8d/740, married Jul/Sep 1929 London City/Middx  1c/48 to Samuel Storey,  died 1951 

1911 census he is a Captain at the Depot Lancashire Fusiliers, Wellington Barracks, Bolton Rd, Bury

1913 May 7. 3rd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers, Captain Wilfred James Woodcock, retired pay, late The Lancashire Fusiliers, to be Major. Gazette

1914 Apr/Jun the only child I can find of the marriage is born, and Anne D Woodcock, registered in Buckingham. Oddly he changes her surname to Fleming in 1930

1915 Mar 31.Manchester Regt.—Lt.-Col. (Capt., ret. pay, Reserve. of Officers) W. J. Woodcock, Lancashire Fusiliers to be Lt.-Col. (temp.), with precedence as from 31st Mar. 1915. l1th Feb. 1917. Gazette

1915 Jul Landed in Gallipoli

1916 Sep 13. Border Regt. (7th Bn.).—Maj. & Bt. Lt.-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., Lan. Fus., to be actg. Lt.-Col. (with pay & allces. as Maj.) whilst commanding the battalion from 13th Sept. to 31st. Oct. 1916. Gazette

1917 Dec 22 Lt-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O. (Lan. Fus., Spec. Res.) (Capt., Res. of Off.), from Manch. R., T.F., to command a Battalion., and to be- Lt.-Col. 27 Dec. 1917, with seniority 31 Mar. 1915. Gazette

1918 Jan 1. Mention in Dispatches. Capt. (T./Lt.-Col ) Wilfred James Woodcock, Lan., Fus , Spec Resi. {Capt. , R of O , late Lancs Fus.). Gazette

1918 Apr 16. Machine Gun Corps 66 Battalion. Lt.-Col. W. J.. Woodcock, D.S.O. (Lan. Fus., Spec. Res.) (Capt. Res. of Off.), ceases to be employed. with the Corps. Gazette

1918 Apr 23 Lt.-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., Lan. Fus., Spec. Res., vice Bt. Col. (temp. Brig.-Gen.) R. C. Gore, C.B., C.M.G., Arg. & Suth'd Highrs. Attached to HQ Units. Gazette

1918 Nov 19. Gazette Croix de Chevalier of Croix de Guerre Lieutenant - Colonel (temporary Brigadier- General) (Captain, retired pay, Reserve of Officers) Wilfred James Woodcock, D.S.O.- Lancashire Fusiliers, Special Reserve.

1919 Jan 1. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned awards for Distinguished Service in connection with Military Operations in the Field. To be Brevet Lt Col, Maj. (T./Brig.-Gen.) W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., Lancashire Fusiliers. Gazette.

1919 Mar 17. Bt. Lt-Col. .W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., Lan. Fus. attached to HQ Unit.

1919 Apr 1. Lancashire Fusiliers. 16th Bn.— Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col.) W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O. to be acting. Lt.-Col. while commanding the Battalion Gazette.

1919 Aug 1. Lan. Fus. 16th Bn. Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col.) W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O. (Lac. Fus.), from actg. Lt.-Col., to be temp. Lt.-Cbl. while commanding the battalion. Gazette

1920 Feb 11. Manchester Regt 52nd Bn.— Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col.) W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O. (Lan. Fus.), relinquishes the temp, rank of Lt.-Col. on ceasing to comd. the Bn. Gazette

1920 Mar 11. 5th Bn., Royal Sussex Regt.—Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col) W. J. Woodcock, Lanes. Fus., to be Adjt. Gazette

1920 May 20.5th Bn., Royal Sussex Regt. — Maj. J. S. Woodruffe, .D.S.O., O.B.E., Royal Sussex Regt., to be Adjt., vice Maj. (Bt. Lt.-Col.) W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O. (Lanes. Fus.). Gazette

Mrs Woodcock wrote My husband had gone over in May, soon after we left Germany. On the 4th of May he was at the War Office, and was told he would shortly go to India ; on the 5th of May he was ordered to Ireland. They both began with " I," which was the only way that we could account for the mistake, but, alas ! it was not a mistake. I followed him in July.

His wifes account of the IRA raid is written in her book

1920 21st November was a fine sunny day. In the distance I hear the sound of church bells. They were ringing summoning the people, some to Mass, and others to murder. My husband had hurried over his dressing, as he was to take a Church Parade at the Commander-in-Chiefs. I was wearing a blouse with a lot of tiresome little buttons. Had it not been for those silly little buttons I should have gone down to breakfast with my husband, and should have had the agony of seeing him and others killed or wounded before my eyes, and should probably have been shot myself. I was standing at my bedroom window struggling with the cuff of my blouse, when I saw a man get over the garden wall. I watched him idly; in spite of five months in Dublin and constant alarms and excitements I felt no fear,and not much anxiety.I thought he had come to see one of the maids. But directly I saw him take a revolver out of his pocket my fears were aroused, and I rushed to the door, and shouted to my husband,who had left the room a few minutes before. It is a bitter thought now that if I had raised the alarm directly I saw the man get over the wall I might have roused some of the other officers, though I believe from the evidence collected that it is fairly clear that several of the murderers were already in the house when this man got into the garden. Their organisation was perfect.

My husband was unarmed. The Staff and regimental officers who occupied flats in this and, I believe, other similar buildings, had been warned and advised that it would be wiser not to carry revolvers or to keep them in their rooms : on the same principle, I suppose, as the Dublin Metropolitan Police were also unarmed i.e., if you did not hurt any one no one would hurt you,and if we had no weapons in our rooms we should not be raided, and raids had been frequent in our neighbourhood: accurate information as to where such weapons would be found was apparently always given by servants in the various houses. The four other officers who had rooms in the house each, I know now, had several revolvers, but they never used them. No one fired a shot. I imagine they were surprised and shot down before they even had time to arm themselves.

My interpretation of her remarks here is that Montgomery, Keenlyside and Woodcock were unarmed "regimental officers" and Price, Dowling, Murray and Jeune were not and they had guns

Our first thought was for those friends who lived on the lower floors, and, after looking at the man in the garden, my husband rushed down to warn them, and to bolt the hall door. It was too late. The hall was full of armed men. He was ordered to put his hands up and to give his name. He did so, and added, " There are women in the house." The murderers answered," We know it." At that moment the door behind my husband opened, and he, fearing that one of the officers he had hoped to warn was coming out of his room, shouted, " Look out, M(ontgomery) ." As he spoke they fired and shot my husband through the shoulder, and he fell at the foot of the stairs. He scrambled up, but was shot again through the back. Getting up again, he half-walked and half-crawled upstairs.

The other officer, who had not heard my husband's warning, was also fired at twice, and fell at his wife's feet, she herself being slightly wounded in the knee. I had remained in my room, watching from the window the man in the garden, who stood a few feet from the back entrance, revolver in hand, ready to fire if any one tried to escape through that door. I heard six shots only, though subsequently I found at least fifty must have been fired; but the building was a large one, and except for these six they had all been fired on the other side of the house and on the other stairs. I was in an agony of anxiety, but I had sworn to my husband that I would not leave my window. The door opened, and he came in; his shoulder was covered with blood, but his first words were, "It's all right, darling ; hey have only hit outlying portions of me. Go back to the window."

He looked much as usual,and as he had apparently walked upstairs (I can never understand now how he did get back to the room alone and unaided ), I did not think he could be very badly hurt, so I did as I was told. I saw about twenty men running and cycling away down a lane, and I also saw the man in the garden being helped to escape by one of the servants from the flat, who came out with a key and let him out through another exit. It was a dreadful moment. I had watched him so carefully, and I did think that he, at least, would be caught. I then turned to my husband, and found to my horror that he was just losing consciousness, and that the bed on which he was lying was soaked with blood. I took off his coat, and saw four bullet holes two in his arm and shoulder, a horrible-looking one in his back, and another in front. We found afterwards that these were two entry and two exit holes, but I thought at the time that he had received four wounds. He was conscious again, and I, thinking he was the only one wounded, rushed downstairs for help. Never to my dying day shall I forget the scene in the hall and on the stairs, where four officers had been shot. There were great splashes of blood on the walls, floor, and stairs, bits of plaster were lying about, and on the walls were the marks of innumerable bullets. Forunately,with two exceptions, the murderers had been so panic-stricken themselves and their hands so shaky that their firing had been wild in the extreme, and to this fact my husband and one other officer owed their lives.

I turned round the corner of the inner hall, and saw a patch of blue, and found a man in bright-blue pyjamas lying at the top of the kitchen stairs. He, I knew, had a flat on the fourth floor. Why they brought him down and shot him in the hall I do not know. I leant over him. He was shot through both lungs. I could do nothing, and I knew if I was going to help my husband I must think only of him, for there wasa limit to my physical and mental powers of endurance; so reluctantly I left him. The outer hall was by then full of people,and I found that doctors (there were at least six living within a few hundred yards) had already been sent for.I then heard that two officers were lying dead upstairs, and two were dangerously wounded ; in fact, that not one of the six officers who lived in the house had escaped.

I cannot describe the awful feeling of sick horror that came over me, and how I literally shook with mingled feelings of pity and passionate anger. I went to the telephone, rang up the barracks,and implored them to send soldiers at once, and then tore upstairs again to my husband. I seized rugs and hot-water bottles from the bed of an old Irish lady who had the flat below us. I found her in a terrible state of agitation , cursing the British Government, but I had no time to waste on her. At last the doctors came to my room. They told me they had already seen the other wounded, and, leaving them with my husband, I went downstairs again. I expected the troops any moment, and I wanted to make sure that the servant I had seen helping one of the murderers to escape was arrested the moment they arrived. I could not rest till I knew the house was surrounded by soldiers. I feared the murderers might come back to finish their bloody task.

and afterwards

Our regiment was still guarding the house when I returned, and some of the men came up and spoke to me. Several of them had tears in their eyes. They had heard my husband was dead. Many of them had served with him in Malta and India. Others had fought under him at the Dardanelles and in France. I wonder what those men thought when stretcher after stretcher was carried out in front of them, and they had not been able to fire a shot or strike a blow. I think it speaks well for the magnificent discipline of the regiment that in spite of the fierce anger they felt, not one act of reprisal in any shape or form took place that night or during the ensuing week. Later on a special order of appreciation and thanks was issued by the Commander-in-Chief. Mrs Woodcock

1921 Apr 27 He is living at Marden Hill, Hertford on Medal card.

1921 May 23 Temp appointment to Military Secretary's Staff. as Asst. Mil. Sec. (Class. BB).—Bl. Lt.-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O, Lan. Fus. Gazette

1921 Aug 18 Awarded Officier de Legion d'Honneur by French Government Gazette

1923 Jan 1. The undermentioned Lt.-Col. to be Col. : — W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., h.p. list, late Lan. Fus., 1st Mar 1928, with seniority 1st Jan. 1923. Gazette

moreton bay

SS Moreton Bay

1923 Apr 14 Arrives in London on SS Moreton Bay, having embarked at Port Said and the ship had come from Australia. None of his family traveled with him

1923 Apr 14.The undermentioned relinquish their temp, appts.: — Asst. Mil. Sec. (Class BB).—Bt. Lt.-CoI. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., Lan. Fus. Gazette

1924 Feb 24. Lan, Fus. Maj. & Bt. Lt.-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., to be Lt.-Col. Gazette

1928 Feb 24. Lan. Fus.-Lt.-Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., on completion of his period of service in command. is placed on the h.p. list. Gazette

1928 Jun 1 Col.W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., to be Instr. (Cl. Y), Sen. Offrs'. Sch. Gazette

1930 May 5. Gazette Notice is hereby given that Wilfred James Woodcock, Colonel in His Majesty's Army, has, by deed poll dated the sixth day of May instant, and duly enrolled in the College of Arms, London, the twelfth day of the same month, for and on behalf of his Daughter, Anne Dealtry, a minor of the age of fifteen years and upwards, adopted the surname of Fleming, in lieu of and in substitution for her former surname of Woodcock. signed by Lancaster Herald, College of Arms. Family sources say that Anne D Woodcock was adopted by the Fleming family in Vervey Switzerland at the age of about 3 because the child got in the way of her mother's (extra marital?) activities). One has to question whether Col Woodcock was the father.

1930 Dec 20 Territorial Army Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., from Instr. (Cl. Y), Sen. Offrs. Sch., is apptd. Comdr., 126th (E. Lan. and Border) Inf. Bde..Gazette

1934 Dec 20. Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., retires on ret. pay, and is granted the hon. rank of Brig.-Gen. Gazette Col. W. J. Woodcock, D.S.O., relinquishes the appt. of Comdr. 126th (E. Lan. & Border) Inf. Bde. 20th Dec. 1934.

ss corfu

1936 Aug 13. Arrives in London from Marseilles on the SS Corfu, a P&O ship. The ship called at Yokohama, Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Bombay, Aden, Port Said, Malta, Marseilles, Gibraltar and Tangier. He apparently only got on at Marseilles. His UK address is given as 11 Clarges St, London W1


SS Tetela, a Fyffes banana boat

1937 Aug 31 Arives in England from Jamaica on SS Tetela . A Messrs Elders and Fyffes Ltd ship stopped which stopped at Galveston, Texas and he went ashore). Travelled 1st Class, but without any family

1938 May 3 Regular Army Reserve of Officers. The undermentioned having attained the age limit of liability to recall, cease to belong to the Res. of Off. :— General List. Col. (Hon. Brig.-Gen.) W. J. Woodcock, . D.S.O. (late Inf.). .Gazette

1960 Oct/Dec death of Wilfrid James Woodcock at Wandsworth 5d/872

1972 Feb 15 death of Caroline May Woodcock at Wandsworth 5d/1315

Men who survived