WOODS, Russell Francis
DIVISIONAL UNIT: 1st Canadian Infantry Division
1st Infantry Brigade
4th Battalion - Central Ontario
Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO: 654252
RESIDENCE: Blyth – Ontario
DATE OF BIRTH: April 21, 1893
Westfield – East Wawanosh Township – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH: October 1, 1918 25 years 5 months
CEMETERY: Sancourt British Cemetery – Sancourt –
Nord – France
I A 11
PARENTS: Mr. James & Margaret Woods – Auburn - Ontario
Occupation: Banker Religion: Methodist
Enlistment: Blyth – January 10, 1916 – 161st Huron Battalion
Enlistment Age: 22 years 9 months
Zero hour was 05:00 hours and there was a bright crescent moon and clear sky. Patrols had been sent out and reported back the enemy wire was intact and then wire cutting patrols were sent out.
At 05:00 hours the Allied barrage began and the front waves of infantry were able to get through the enemy wire. Shorty after “A & B” Companies passed the wire, large numbers of the enemy emerged from well concealed emplacements and were preparing to fire on the rear of the two companies that just passed. “C” Company attacked the enemy and after a sharp and bitter battle eliminated that enemy garrison.
“A & B” Companies were now approaching the crest of the ridge which marked the point of the Second Phase of the advance. The Allied barrage at first had been good now was scattered near the crest with shells falling 200 yards short. Casualties were taken. Near the crest of the ridge, the Blecourt Mud Road, running parallel to the railway, lay in a shallow cutting. “A” Company had been able to keep in touch with their left flank but all the while the left flank of
“B” Company had been in trouble.
“A & B” Companies were entering Phase Two and “C” Company had mopped up the Champagne Emplacements and moved ahead in the rear of “A & B”. When “A & B” reached the Blecourt Road there was a large number of the enemy appearing and preparing to hit “A & B” from behind with machine-gun fire. “C” Company rushed the enemy, cleared them with bayonet, leaving no prisoners. As the First Phase continued enemy machine-gun fire was steadily increasing. Much of this fire came from the railway and the high ground opposite the left flank.
The Commanders of “B & C” Companies did not realize the situation on their left until larger volumes of enemy fire was being directed at them.
Then at 05:40 hours, Battalion ordered “D” Company forward thinking the Companies in the field were well on their way to the railway cutting. When “D” reached the Sunken Road they paused as “C” Company could be seen on the crest ahead. It was now getting light and there was a mist and those attacking Companies were 250 yards this side of the railway. As the light improved the enemy came down with heavy enfilade fire along with artillery fire from the general direction of the high ground and the railway. “D” was told to protect the left flank if needed. Between 08:00 – 08:30 hours the left flank was confused for about 1,200 yards and they were suffering heavy casualties from enemy fire.
The Allies brought down a 10 minute barrage at 09:00 hours and “D” Company attacked and made the objective. “D” Company tried to advance but could not because the barrage was so feeble. In the mean time “A & B” Companies had crossed the Sunken Road and advanced toward the railway cutting but only a few rested on the cutting opposite of the right flank. However, from this point the enemy poured their fire onto those Companies with some of the Allied artillery shells falling into the Company on the right.
This is the fight where Private Woods during the performance of his military duties was killed in action.