CWG: Private William Woodgate

Private William Woodgate

Much of William Woodgate’s life seems destined to remain a mystery. He was born in Dunsford, Devon, in around 1877, and was the son of Lewis Woodgate.

By the age of 14, he was living on a farm on Bovey Tracey, working as an agricultural labourer for the farm owners, Thomas and Betsy Dayment. Ten years later, William had made the move to Wellington in Somerset, where he was lodging with the Denner family, and working as a carter.

On 20th June 1903, William married Mary Jane Grinter, a signalman’s daughter from Wellington; the couple went on to have three children, Lewis, Leonard and Francis. The young family set up home in North Street, near the centre of the town. By the 1911 census, William had changed profession, and was working as a fish salesman.

War was about to descend on Europe, and, in May 1916, William signed up to play his part. He was enlisted as a Private in the North Somerset Yeomanry, and was assigned to the 2nd/1st Battalion. His service record shows that he was 5ft 2.5ins (1.59m) tall, and weighed 117lbs (53kg), and had a fair physical development.

Private Woodgate did not see any service abroad: his battalion became part of the 6th Cyclist Brigade, and he was based in East Anglia and, for a short while, in Northumberland.

There is little further detail about Private Woodgate’s life. He survived the war, and was transferred to the Army Reserve on 9th February 1919, having served for just under three years.

At this point, William’s trail goes cold. He returned home to Somerset, and passed away nine months later, on 11th November 1919. He was 42 years of age.

William Woodgate was laid to rest in Wellington Cemetery, not far from where Mary and their children lived.


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