Private William John Woodcraft

Date of Birth c. 1898
Age at Death 19
Date of Death 24 April 1918
Service Number 41415
Military Service 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Merton Address 29 Birdhurst Road, Colliers Wood
Local Memorial Christ Church, Colliers Wood

Additional Information

Born in Kennington in 1898, William was the son of William Snr and Daisy Woodcraft. The family were living at Duke Street (off Stamford Street) in Lambeth. By 1901 the family had moved to 10 Leonard Building, in Bow. William Snr was employed as a Millwright, and the family also included Daisy, Violet, Alfred and Ivy. The 1911 Census records the family living at 39 Warren Road, Colliers Wood. William Snr was now a Jobbing Builder, and the family had increased to include George and Leslie. After moving around the immediate area, by 1918 the family settled at 29 Birdhurst Road, Colliers Wood.

William enlisted in Wimbledon as a Private with the 7th Bedfordshire Regiment. The 7th (Service) Battalion served entirely on the Western Front in the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. On 24 April 1918 the German army had seized and occupied the town of Villers-Brettoneux, while advancing towards Amien, which was a strategic position. Williams’s battalion was involved in the campaign to recapture the town alongside thousands of Australian troops, attacking between Cachy and Hangard Wood. The Battalion’s War Diary records that the men were ready to attack at 10pm and that the night was intensely dark. They advanced for 1,000 yards before being held up by heavy machine gun fire, with only one of the battalion’s officers surviving. After suffering many casualties, Villers-Bretonneux was recaptured less than 24 hours after being overrun by the Germans and Amiens was no longer in danger. Unfortunately, William was killed in action on that day.

William is buried at Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, France and is commemorated locally at Christ Church, Colliers Wood.


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