An error in a historical book led me to post the original idea of this writeup in May 21, 1915. That writeup is below, unedited, along with a story of my woes trying to find the real WHP Woods.
On this day WHP Woods of the Light Horse died at Gallipoli. He was one of the first to die. His horse was a big thing, probably chestnut, with a long fat blaze from forehead to right nostril. The blaze didn't cover the left nostril at all. He had a watch with a round face on his left wrist. He sat nicely in the saddle, ankles appropriately bent, reins at a good height.
I don't know anything else about him. I found him in a book researching for a project back in 2004 and I wrote a diary for the picture and single line of information I found.
I have wondered at the WHP. Wallace Harry? William Harrold? Peter, Patrick, Paris? Where did he live, was he a Southerner like me, or did he come from New South Wales or Victoria? How old was he? He doesn't look as though he lied about his age but his face is hidden under the shadow of his hat so I will never be able to guess for sure. What happened to his horse when he went to Gallipoli? Did he have a sweetheart, or even married with a kid? Brothers, sisters, cousins, property. What did he do before the Light Horse?
How did you die, Mr WHP Woods? I wish I could hope it was quiet and peaceful but it was Gallipoli. I wish I could hope you were buried but it was Gallipoli. I wish I could hope at all, because I am sure that your death was a loss and did nothing. Gallipoli was a loss and did nothing but create tears. I cannot find you but I will not forget you WHP Woods.
Rest in peace.
We Will Remember Them
When I posted this on Saturday, April 25, 2009, server time 12:00:27 I decided that enough was enough and I would find this elusive man. Brief internet searches had previously brought up nothing and so I brought out the big guns. Still finding nothing except one Private William Harry Rankin Woods, who was killed on May 15, 1915 I gave up. Then Albert Herring had the goodness to message me with great amounts of detail of various dates and boarding lists. From this I found that WH Rankin Woods was Number 71 of the 1st AIF Division, previously a bank clerk, age 32, single, and resided at 34 College Street, Sydney. He lived with at least his mother, maybe more members of his family. I also found that William Harry Rankin Woods was the first fatality the regiment suffered, only three days after they landed at a place 2000 yards south of the Fisherman's Hut.
A little depressed about Rankin being the first death the regiment suffered I decided that I would continue looking for my WHP Woods. I realized that I should check the source of my original information, so I dug through my drawers until I found the assignment I did in 2004, in which I used his photo as a basis for the subject of my diary. The local library surprisingly still had the thick book which I used originally. I got a hold of it and flipped through to page 18, where the photo was. No mistake had been made on my part, it clearly informed the reader that the man in the picture was one WHP Woods who died on the 21st of May.
A bit upset I moaned in the catbox. Both Albert and BlackPawn suggested that Rankin was the man I wanted but I was as yet unconvinced and wanted to be sure before I mentally changed him into a Private William Harry Rankin Woods.
And then. Trying to find a forum so I could ask about my man I stumbled upon a photo. A very familiar photo. A man on a horse with a thick long blaze. The photo had the title Trooper William Harry Rankin Woods; No. 71, 1st Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. The same photo I had seen on a Wikipedia page previously but had skipped over as the page had no written information that pleased me. And so.
Trooper William Harry Rankin Woods was born in Mudgee, November 28, 1873. He was a fine singer and before the war was a banker. The next of kin listed for him was his mother, who shared his address. August 25, 1914 he joined the army. His Regiment traveled to Gallipoli on two troopships, the Devonha and the Kingsonia, which embarked on May 9, 1915. They landed at 6 am, May 12, and for three days they were to be in reserve, during which period they familiarized themselves with the trenches.
Six days after he left Sydney William was killed by shrapnel; he was the first man in his regiment to die. He is said to have had pluck and genial personality, and had he not died he would have soon received a commission. His photograph is now what is commonly used to depict the typical Light Horse man.
It is now Wednesday, April 29, 2009, server time 11:07. I have found him, my unknown soldier is in fact very well known, but that doesn't make him less dead. I will remember him always, I will have his photo always he will be my soldier to remember on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day and any other day I care to remember him on. I wish he hadn't died like that. I feel like crying.
This site has information regarding Woods' death. He is on page three (four according to the documentation pages) of the Embarkation roll. Many thanks to Albert Herring for help on finding all this information.