Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - Arthur Wilfred Woodforth
Died 7th April 1918, aged 20
Prior to the war
Arthur Wilfred Woodforth, known as Wilfred, was the eldest son of John William Woodforth (known as William) and Rebecca (née Johnson) from Quorn, who had married on 4th April 1896 at St Bartholomew’s Church. William worked at Mountsorrel Quarry and his family had lived in Quorn for at least three generations.
In 1901, Wilfred’s parents, William and Rebecca are recorded as living at what is now 14 Wood Lane, in the cottages built by Wrights for their factory workers. Wilfred was their first child and was born in 1897. He was followed by Lawrence in 1899 and Cyril in 1903.
Sometime between 1903 and 1911 the family moved to Leicester, and the 1911 census finds Rebecca and the three boys (including Wilfred) living at 4 New Pingle Street, off Frog Island. William however, is recorded as being back in Quorn with his widowed mother, although it seems likely that this was just a visit, and not that the couple were estranged. When the war started William was working on munitions in Leicester.
Wilfred joined the Leicestershire Regiment on 10th February 1915. His attestation papers confirm that he was living on Pingle Street in Leicester and he was working as a warehouse man. Within a short time he was boarding a ship and arrived in France.
During April 1916, Wilfred was taken to one of the many field hospitals, suffering from what was described as carbolic acid poisoning and throat burns. Carbolic acid was widely used as an antiseptic during WW1, but used excessively could cause breathing problems.
Only months later at the end of September 1916, he was back in hospital as he had injured his hand when handling a gun, and the wound had become infected. Once again he found himself in a casualty clearing station, but when he recovered, his regiment had moved on. As was common practice he was transferred to a more conveniently placed unit, in this case the Machine Gun Corps.
The hard life continues
Meanwhile back at home, life was also hard for his parents, William and Rebecca. Despite only being 48 years old, William was having severe health problems. He had a gastric ulcer and had undergone an operation at Leicester Royal Infirmary, which would not have been undertaken lightly. He was unable to work, and the family moved back to Quorn. It was all too much for William, and he committed suicide on 16th June 1917.
Nine months after his father’s death, during a battle in April 1918, Wilfred received a gunshot wound to his right thigh, and was captured as a prisoner of war. He was admitted to a German POW camp hospital, but died the next day. He now lies in a peaceful Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Cologne.
His mother Rebecca, still only 43 herself, had to cope somehow with these two devastating life-blows within less than a year, and like so many women, also had to find the strength to carry on for the rest of the family.
1) A newspaper photograph of Wilfred Woodforth
2) A modern photograph of 14 Wood Lane (on the right with the white door), the home of the Woodforth family.