Private Cecil Wood

Cecil was born in Warrington on 19 May 1885 and was baptised at Stockton Heath parish church on 9 August 1885. His parents were Robert Oswald and Annie. He had five siblings, Annie b1880, William Robert b1881, James Oswald b1886, Charles Edwin b1888 and Herbert b1892. The family initially lived on Knutsford Road, Warrington.

Cecil married Frances Badrick on 21 October 1909, in Chester. At first, they lived with Frances’ family at Norton Cottages in Halton, later moving to West View, Moore. Their son, Kenneth (also known as Cecil) was born on 18 March 1911. Cecil was a joiner up to the outbreak of war.

He enlisted quickly on 10 August 1914 and served with the Royal Army Service Corps, service number 3335. He was 5’ 6”, weighed 120 lbs and had hazel eyes and brown hair. He was a lorry driver and spent most of the war in France, ferrying supplies up to the front line. His military record says that he was a ‘very good’ lorry driver and he was awarded a good conduct badge in 1916.

During the first part of 1915, Cecil kept a diary and his grandson has kindly given us permission to digitise it and use it to illustrate our work. Although it only covers five months, the diary gives us an insight into the boredom, horror and loneliness of war.

Cecil Wood’s diary

‘Exactly at 7 o’clock we heard a low rumbling as of a lot of houses falling and even the ground where we stood began to tremble and then the explosion came. A most awful earsplitting which broke every window round about and the whole hill, about three times as big as Halton castle went up in the air’

Some of his entries are quite graphic and have no place here. He longed for home and sent many embroidered postcards to his wife and son.

‘I have seen so much misery and death and ruin. I sometimes wonder if it is a dream. I long to get away from it and get back to you all.’

Cecil returned safely to his family in 1919.

In 1939, he and Frances were still living at West View and Cecil was a motor driver in the flour trade.

Cecil died in 1956, aged 71 years.