June 1, 2018. In previous blog postings, we wrote about John Lyman WOOD, whose name is not only on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, but also is listed on the Vimy Memorial in France. (See Learning About The Two Names On The Vimy Memorial and Visiting The Canadian National Vimy Memorial)
Born in North Tryon on July 8, 1897, the son of George William Wood and Martha Heatly, he was raised on a farm, and was in second year engineering at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia before enlisting in the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry 4th University Company on October 12, 1915. On November 28, 1915 he sailed from Halifax on the SS Lapland, arriving in Plymouth, England on December 7.
Upon arrival, he was sent to the 11th Reserve Battalion, stationed at St. Martin’s Plain near Folkestone, for infantry training for needed reinforcements to the Canadian Corps in the field.
Before WW1 began, Wood attended Horton Academy and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. As part of his research, Pieter contacted Acadia University. Wendy Robicheau, archivist at Acadia University, is researching WW1 soldiers who attended Acadia and posts information on a blog. (See Acadia and the War: commemoration and dissemination blog: http://aboutacadiawar.blogspot.com/.) Wendy explained that at Acadia University, Wood was known as ‘Lyman’, not ‘John’.
Wendy shared information from Acadia’s student newspaper, ‘The Acadia Athenaeum’, December 1915 issue. “The following men enlisted with the 4th Universities Company of the P.P.C.L.I.:–Lieut. Frank Higgins, ’14; Sergeant Murray Millet, ’16; Corporal Burton DeWolfe, ’16; Lance Corporal Don Chase Eng. ’16; Max Saunders, ’16; Charlie Fitch Eng, ’16; Harold Bishop, ex ’17; John MacNeill, ex ’18; Leyman Wood, ex ’18; John Mosher, ex ’18.” P.P.C.L.I. refers to Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. The dates after the men’s names refer to either the year of graduation or the year they should have graduated, if WW1 had not interrupted their education.
In her blog posting of June 23, 1917, (http://aboutacadiawar.blogspot.com/search?q=Higgins) , Wendy wrote that “It should be noted that Higgins played a role in recruiting several Acadia men to the P.P.C.L.I. His signature appears on the attestation papers of several students who enlisted in Wolfville.” The following entry is from the November 1915 issue of the Acadia Athenaeum.
Indeed, Higgins did sign the attestation papers for Wood as well, as Wendy explains in her blog posting of May 3, 2017 (http://aboutacadiawar.blogspot.com/2017/05/remembering-john-lyman-wood-died-100.html?q=Higgins): “Private Wood attested in October 1915. He was a student with one year in Acadia’s O.T.C. The witness on his papers–Lieut. F.C. Higgins. Incidentally, Dr. C.E.A. deWitt, Class of ’04, signed his medical papers. DeWitt was the doctor at Camp Aldershot.”
Wendy went on to explain that of the group of ten men mentioned in the December 1915 issue: “Five will not survive. DeWolfe, Saunders, Fitch, and Wood all die in Europe. Bishop, severely wounded, is brought back to Nova Scotia, and dies in Halifax. Chase is taken POW at Mount Sorrell with other P.P.C.L.I. who are Acadia students, but not of the group listed above.”
Wendy let us know about a book ‘As Ever’, written by John Grant, containing letters from his great-uncle Harold Fletcher Bishop, who signed up with John Lyman Wood, and was also a war casualty. (See http://www.kingscountynews.ca/living/letters-from-auburn-soldier-in-first-world-war-inspire-book-71960/). After contacting John Grant and asking about John Lyman Wood, he wrote back that he’d found a reference to Wood attending a dinner in Folkestone, England: “On or about January 16, 1916 the Acadia men organized a dinner at the Metropole Hotel where perhaps two dozen gathered for a meal, toasts, and to sing the Acadia songs around the piano. I have included in my book two reports of evening that were published in the Acadia Atheneaum. Pte. J.L. Wood, Class of ‘18” was mentioned.”
In an excerpt of one report of that evening, by Sgt F. Gregg, he explains that: “On the night in question the Acadians made their way, by bus and train, toward the Metropole hotel. Here the interior presented a happy contrast to the bleak, darkened, town without. Upon being ushered into the sanctum reserved for us we were surprised to see fellows, many of whom we thought still to be in the Blue Nose province.”
This was the only reunion dinner that Wood attended. On January 21, 1916 he was in hospital with appendicitis, then gastritis, and measles. He was discharged on April 15, 1916, to the 39th Battalion. On December 22, 1916, he arrived in France as part of the Second Infantry Battalion, which was part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He survived that battle, but his luck ran out on May 3, 1917, when he was killed in action during the Battle of Arras, in the third battle of the Scarpe near Fresnoy. Wood’s body was never recovered, his only memorial in Europe being his name inscribed on the Vimy Ridge Memorial, which we visited last fall. Wood’s obituary was published in the June 1917 issue of the Acadia Athenaeum, with an unfortunate typo for the month of his death.
A big thank you to Wendy Robicheau for sharing the information about Wood from Acadia University, to Gene Rogerson for providing a photo of Wood, and to John Grant for letting us know about the Acadia reunion dinner. Can you add anything more to Wood’s story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments or stories? You can share them by email or by commenting on this blog.
UPCOMING PRESENTATION: Pieter has been invited to speak about the Cenotaph Research Project at St John The Evangelist Anglican Church in Crapaud at 7 pm on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Location: 391 Nelson St, Trans Canada Hwy Rte, Crapaud, PE C0A 1J0. Photos and information about soldiers welcome.
© Daria Valkenburg