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35184 Rifleman Sidney Hollis Wood – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Sidney Hollis Wood was born on 12th January 1898 in Bedminster, Bristol, Gloucestershire the seventh of eleven children born to Annie Maria (nee Taylor) and Edward Garrett Wood[i]. Three children died in their infancy so about 1913/14 Annie, Edward and the eight surviving children immigrated to New Zealand.
The family settled in the Wellington area with Sidney and his older brother Wilford Kingston Wood dairy farming together in the Makara Valley[ii].
On 28th August 1916 Sidney entered Trentham Military camp his papers note his date of birth as 12th January 1896 an adjustment had been made to ensure he was 20 years old. Sidney lists himself as a self employed dairy farmer of Makara and his next of kin as his mother Mrs A Wood, Vivien Street, Wellington although this is later amended to Tawa Flat[iii].
35184 Private Wood was attached to H Company, 20th Reinforcements and
following basic training left on 6th December 1916. On arrival in England on
19th February 1917 Private Wood was sent to the Sling Military Camp where he
as allocated as Rifleman Wood, 5th Reserve Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
(NZ(R) B). While at Sling Camp Rifleman Wood was posted, on 27th May 1917, to
the 17th (Ruahine) Company 3rd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment and
proceeded overseas to France. 

                                                              35184 Rifleman Sidney Hollis Wood 1917 

Private Wood saw service in the Battle of Messines and also the Battle of
Passchendaele then the long and bitter of winter in the Ypres Salient. The
conditions at the front were hard on the troops often manning trenches full of
freezing water. On 27th December 1917 Private Wood was taken to a casualty
clearing station with possible Trench Foot and did not return to his unit until
3rd January 1918. On 15th January 1918 Private Wood was detached to
‘school’ there is nothing on file about the type of training but two weeks later
he returned to his unit. It is possibly the training led to Private Wood being
transferred as Rifleman Wood on 3rd February 1918 to the 4th  Battalion,
3rd Brigade, NZ(R)B.

On 21st March 1918 the German’s launched their Spring Offensive Operation Michael with initial success. The New Zealand Division was in Reserve but was quickly moved to plug a gap near Hébuterne and advance units were in contact with German forces on 26th March 1918. By 28th March 1918 the front held by the New Zealand Division was holding but
still under pressure from German forces. The 3rd Rifles were in action south of Hebuterne on 28th March 1918 when Rifleman Wood was wounded suffering wounds to both shoulder and neck, evacuated by 1st NZ Field Ambulance he
was assessed at the 56 Casualty Clearance Station and quickly evacuated to the 20th General Hospital by 1st April 1918 Rifleman Wood had been evacuated from France and admitted to the City of London, Military Hospital where he remained for six weeks before being sent to the No2 NZ General Hospital, Walton. Rifleman Wood remained at Walton for assessment only being transferred to the NZ Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch on 15th May 1918. Rifleman Wood remained at Hornchurch until 17th June 1918 when he was transferred to the NZ Depot at Codford for assessment and redeployment.

There is nothing on file but Rifleman Wood would have presented to a medical board and assessed as not fit for active service as his records simply note he was moved to Liverpool and embarked on SS Oxfordshire in 19th December 1918
for return to New Zealand. Also on SS Oxfordshire was Rifleman Wood’s older brother 59571 Private Wilford Kinston
Wood who was also being repatriated.

                                                             Rifleman Wood arrived back in New Zealand on 2nd February 1919 and was given a                                                                         month’s leave being discharged ‘on termination of period of engagement’ from the NZEF                                                               on 2nd March 1919.

                                                             Sidney returned Tawa Flat and civilian life and farming. On 29th September 1920 in
                                                             St Anne’s Church, Porirua,. Sidney married Hilda Evelyn Hook. The Hook’s were an                                                                           established Tawa Flat family and Sidney’s sister Alma Dorothy Wood, in 1924, married                                                                     Hilda’s brother, Frederick Leonard Hook.


                                                             Hilda and Sidney on their wedding day 


                                                             Hilda and Sidney had 10 children[iv]  the
                                                             youngest was born in 1940 four years before                                                                                                                                             Sidney’s death on 13th March 1944 aged 46.

                                                             Sidney Hollis Wood is buried in the old Porirua
                                                             Cemetery as is his wife Hilda and a number of
                                                             their children.
​                                                             
                                                               Sidney's gravestone on the family graves 

Notes
The immigration date is approximate based on the last born Hector (1908) in England
and the start of WW1.
Sidney’s brother 59571 Private Wilford Kingston Wood served in the 30th Reinforcements
but was sent back to New Zealand because of deafness. 
Three of Hilda’s brothers served in the NZEF
1/315 Private Frederick Leonard Hook – Samoa Advanced Party
50380 Trooper Edgar Ernest Hook  Canterbury Mounted Rifles
2/1015 Gunner Alexander James Hook – New Zealand Field Artillery – also buried in Porirua Cemetery.

References
www.geni.com – Wood family
Ancestry.com: Sparkle Family tree
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
The Official History of the NZ Rifle Brigade : NZETC
Porirua Cemetery Records Online

Photos
Rifleman Wood: Auckland Cenotaph 
Hilda and Sidney Wood – wedding day: Ancestry.com
Grave: Simon Strombom
NZ Troops April 1918: Royal RSA collection: National Library


[i] www.geni.com
[ii] Civic Cases, 4th October 1916, Manawatu Standard
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 35184 Rifleman Sidney Hollis Wood
[iv] Ancestry.com Sparkle Family Tree
  

  
NZ Troops in action April 1918