Remember me - echoes from the lost generations
First World War
 
 

A Family from Canada

CharolotteCharlotte Fullman was born in 1861 at Chatham, in the south of England. In 1888, she married a widower, Frederick Wood, and took on a ready-made family of six boys - all under the age of eight. Charlotte and Frederick went on to have another seven children together.

Frederick’s oldest son died in 1900, while serving with the British Army in South Africa. Nevertheless, by the time their youngest son was born in 1901, Frederick and Charlotte still had twelve children to support: Louis (aged 19), Joseph (18), William (17), Arthur (15), Alfred (14), Ellen (12), Frederick (10), John (7), Herbert (6), Harry (4), Percy (2) and the infant Charles.

In 1905, Charlotte and Frederick and four of their younger sons emigrated to Canada, to begin a new life ranching near Edmonton, Alberta.

In Britain, when war broke out in 1914, the oldest four - Louis, Joseph, William and Arthur - went into active service in the British Navy. Later, Alf and Fred joined the army, while Harry followed his oldest brothers to sea. In Canada, John and Herbert were also old enough for military service, and volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The two youngest sons, Percy and Charles, were aged fifteen and thirteen respectively, when war broke out, but signed up anyway at Christmas, 1915. By the beginning of 1916, all eleven of Charlotte's sons had enlisted. This is what happened.

1914: Louis lost at sea when his ship, HMS Hogue, was torpedoed.

1915: Harry killed, aged 18, at Gallipoli.

1916: Fred killed on the Somme

1917: Percy killed, aged 17, at Vimy

1917: Joseph, who had survived Gallipoli and the Somme, killed at Passchendaele

Alf and John were seriously wounded, but survived the war.

Dedication card

Canada mourning her lost sonsCharlotte was awarded the George V Jubilee Medal in 1935, and was the first recipient of the Memorial Cross, the Honour still awarded to the mothers and widows of those killed while serving in Canada's armed forces.

In 1936, she took part in "The Vimy Pilgrimage", the unveiling of Canada's First World War Memorial by King Edward VIII. She said at the time, "I would rather have all my twelve about me tonight than all your pilgrimages, so I would". She was one of three War Mothers presented to Edward VIII just prior to the unveiling of the memorial’s central figure ‘Canada mourning her lost sons.’

 

The Winnipeg Free Press reported their meeting:

noprint

Charlotte meets Edward VIII

'The King held the old woman's hand as they told him that eleven of her sons had served, and that five had been killed. 'Mrs Wood', he said, ‘where are you from?' 'Winnipeg, Sir,' she said, speaking to the king for the first time. 'I wish your sons were all here', said Edward gravely. 'Oh! Sir,' cried the old woman, 'I have just been looking at the trenches and I just can't figure out why our boys had to go through that'. Edward quickly replied, 'Please God, Mrs Wood, it shall never happen again.’

Vimy Ridge

 
   
print page Close