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Eric William Beresford WOODS MC

WOODS
Date of birth12 December 1892
PlaceAlbury, New South Wales, Australia
ParentsDr. William Cleaver and Margaret (née Grieve) Woods.
Date of death12 August 1936
PlaceMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Age43
Scotch Year(s)1906 to 1910

Service record and post-war life

Eric Woods left Scotch in 1910, but maintained his links with the school, where he had been a boarder and a member of the 1910 athletics team. In 1912 he won the Old Collegians’ Cup for Athletics.  On 10 October 1913 Eric attended the inaugural OSCA meeting. He was a 21-year-old medical student when he enlisted in Claremont, Tasmania, on 7 November 1914. He was an imposing 185 centimetres (6’1”) tall. Within two weeks of enlisting he was promoted to Lance-Corporal, and then within another week he became a Corporal. Eric was allotted to the 1st Clearing Hospital.

He was on Gallipoli, apparently from April 1915, and left on 13 June, so that in July 1915 he could return to Australia to complete his medical course. Eric was discharged on 24 March 1916. After qualifying as a medical practitioner, he re-enlisted on 10 April 1916 and was appointed Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps in May. He sailed for England.

The 1916 Collegian mentioned a letter from Eric in which he described a cricket match at Tidworth Cricket Ground. Eric won an Officers’ Race in the camp’s athletic sports. On 23 September 1916 Eric was taken on strength of the 2nd Australian General Hospital in France. The following month he transferred to the 8th Field Ambulance. He spent four days with the 31st Battalion in October and then on 1 December 1916 became Regimental Medical Officer of the 32nd Battalion. It was with this unit that he earned the Military Cross in September-October 1917 in the Third Battle of Ypres.

The recommendation, reproduced below, shows that Eric was in charge of an aid post treating casualties of the 32nd Battalion at Polygon Wood on 28 September-1 October. Because the pillbox they were using to treat casualties was under heavy fire – and these abandoned German pillboxes had open entrances readily hit by German shelling – he had to treat the casualties in the open. This ‘he did with great courage’. According to the recommendation his timely arrangements to obtain extra stretcher-bearers and his ‘untiring energy’ certainly ‘saved many lives.’

A short account of Eric's career that appeared in the 1917 Collegian said that ‘from his letters it appears that the busy, trying life seems to suit him well, and so far he has come through unhurt.’ His appointment with the AIF was terminated on 29 December 1919.

By 1920 Eric was practising medicine at Albury, New South Wales, where he was captain of the Albury Diggers’ football team. In late 1922 he moved west to Hay and bought the medical practice of Dr E. Field. Eric became medical officer of the Hay Hospital, and government medical officer at Hay, which positions he retained until December 1935 when ill-health compelled him to sell his practice and go to Melbourne for treatment. Eric died at Melbourne in 1936. He had married Mollie Elizabeth Nugent (d. 1986) in 1923, and their twin sons attended Xavier College.

Photographs and Documents:

woodsEWB

Recommendation for Military Cross for Eric Woods.

Sources:

  1. Mishura Scotch Database
  2. National Archives of Australia – B2455, WOODS E W B
  3. Scotch Collegian 1917, 1920
  4. The Argus, Friday 14 August 1936, p.10
  5. Riverine Grazier, Friday 14 August 1936, p.2
  6. The Argus, Friday 14 August 1936, p.10
  7. Riverine Grazier, Friday 14 August 1936, p.2
  8. The AIF Project - https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=331512, https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=331511

Page last updated: 11 November 2015