Monday, 23 September 2013

Mothers of men

Reading about the Mothers of Men initiative in the Argus in 1916 on the Empire Called blog made me wonder how many Coburg mothers sent three or more sons off to war.

One such Coburg mother was Alice Wood,whose four soldier sons survived the war.

Alice Wood of Sydney Road, Coburg and her four soldier sons. Back row left to right: Charl and Stan. Front row left to right: Carl, Alice and Edwin.
Image courtesy Ian Wood

Edwin Wood was due to take up the position of Governor of Pentridge Prison when he died suddenly at Bendigo in 1901 aged 52. His widow Alice and her nine children settled in Coburg and she established a drapery business in Sydney Road. Her four sons all survived the war, married and had children. Alice and Edwin's grandchildren all did well in various fields, most notably Professor Carl Wood, IVF pioneer, who died in 2011. (from information supplied by Ian Wood)

Alice Wood's four soldier sons were:

12440 Driver Carlyle (Carl) Sandford Wood, 6th Field Ambulance. Born 1895. At the time of enlisting in March 1915 he was a medical student. Some months later he returned to Australia to pursue his medical studies. He became a gynaecologist as was his son, the IVF pioneer. He died in 1987.

12440 Private Charles (Charl) Phillip Wood, 10th Field Ambulance. Youngest in the family, born 1897. When he enlisted March 1916, he was a chemist’s assistant at Haddon’s in Coburg. He was awarded the Military Medal in 1919. On his return to Melbourne he worked as a pharmacist in Coburg for some years before moving to Box Hill. He died in 1964.

10961 Private Edwin George Wood, 3rd Divisional Train. Twin of Stan. He enlisted in August 1915 at which time he was working as a clerk. After the war he moved to Bentleigh where he lived until his death in 1941.

289 Private Stanley Hewitt Wood, 7th Infantry Battalion. Twin of Ed. He enlisted in August 1914 at which time he was working as a farm labourer. He was injured at Gallipoli in May 1915 and returned to Australia where he was discharged in July 1916. He worked firstly as an auctioneer then returned to the land in the Western District of Victoria in the 1940s. He died in 1960 in South Australia.

A moving and quite unexpected letter is included in Stan Wood's soldier's dossier. It's from an English soldier who later emigrated to Canada and tells the story of Stan Wood's cap, which the soldier found while serving on the Gallipoli Peninsula. I wonder if Stan got it back.

I've included the envelope to indicate the lengths the authorities went to to try to find the right person!


  1. I reckon Stan's cap must have made its way back to its owner, seeing a letter addressed to the Lord Mayor of Canberra had made its way into the right file at the Army Record Office. Could someone have it still? Wouldn't that be interesting to know!

  2. I've asked a family member whether he knows so maybe we'll find out.