Reginald Ernest FORWOOD

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FORWOOD, Reginald Ernest

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 30 July 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mile End, South Australia, 13 July 1885
Home Town: Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Thebarton & Sturt Street School, St. Peters College
Occupation: Engineer
Died: Died of wounds, aged 31 years, Le Transloy, Department de la Somme, France, 20 November 1916, aged 31 years
Cemetery: Heilly Station Cemetery
Memorials: Adelaide Grand Masonic Lodge WW1 Honour Board, Adelaide Holy Trinity Church WW1 Honour Board 1, Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Henley Beach Council Fallen WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Henley Beach Council WW1 Service Roll, Henley Beach Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

30 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 27th Infantry Battalion, 11th Reinforcements 27th Battalion

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Shropshire embarkation_ship_number: A9 public_note: ''

23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 27th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
8 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm
20 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt

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Biography

"THE LATE LIEUTENANT R. E. FORWOOD.

A cablegram has been received from Private E. W. Forwood announcing the death from wounds in France, on November 20, of his brother, Lieutenant Reginald E. Forwood. Lieutenant Forwood was the youneest son of Mr. W. W. Forwood, of Henley Beach, and was born at Mile-End on July 13, 1885. He was educated at Thebarton and Sturt-street public schools and at St. Peter's College. He served his apprenticeship as an engineer with Messrs. Forwood, Down, and Co., then worked for some time at Broken Hill, and later became chief draftsman and quantity surveyor for his firm. He was junior warden of St. Peter's College Masonic Lodge when he enlisted. He left Adelaide in March last as lieutenant in charge of reinforcements of the 27th Battalion, and had been on active service in France since July." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 09 Dec 1916 (nla.gov.au)

 

From the book Fallen Saints

Reginald Ernest Forwood of Henley Beach was born at Mile End an inner city suburb of Adelaide in 1885. He gained his early education at Thebarton and Sturt Street Public Schools before attending the Collegiate School of St Peter. Prior to enlistment, he had no previous military experience although during the four months he spent as a member of the School’s Rifle Club he developed into one of the clubs finest shots.

After leaving school he an apprenticeship with Messrs. Forwood, Down and Co., Limited, and subsequently worked at Broken Hill for some time where he became chief draftsman and quantity surveyor for his firm.

 He was Junior Warden of St. Peter’s College Masonic Lodge when he enlisted. [i]

He enlisted in Adelaide on 3 August 1915, was made provisional sergeant to attend an NCO Course at Mitcham Camp, and joined the 11th quota of reinforcements for the 16th Battalion on 30 September; he was reallotted to the 8th quota of reinforcement for the 27th Battalion at the beginning of November. In December, he was appointed second lieutenant and sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Shropshire with the 11th quota of reinforcements for the 27th Battalion on 25 March 1916.  

He joined the battalion on 26 July, was promoted to Lieutenant on 12 September and when wounded in action during October he remained on duty.

After Flers, the 27th Battalion with the majority of men in the battalion suffering from cramps and or trench feet moved back to Montauban Camp where after being issued rubber boots and warm woollen clothing morale improved significantly.

At about 7.30 p.m.,  on 15 November, they moved up into the front line again and there after relieving the 26th Battalion found, they were in much the same positions, they had been in prior to the Flers battle. During the evening of 18 November a thaw set in which caused the trenches to give way in places and the mud became so bad that a number of men lost their rubber boots as they struggled to free their feet from its vice like grip. The conditions there were the most trying the battalion had experienced in similar operations. After being relieved by 17th Battalion later that night and marching more than ten kilometres through heavy rain to Fricourt Camp the men of the 27th thereafter referred the relief to as the ‘retreat from Flers.’

When writing about this incident after the war the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Dollman wrote that, the move was one ‘that will ever be remembered’ as the main roads linking Longueval, Montauban, and Fricourt were ankle deep in mud. During the relief Lieutenants Forwood and Campbell were seriously wounded and subsequently died. [ii]

Lieutenant Reginald Forwood died of wounds at 36th Casualty Clearing Station on 20 November 1916; he was 31 years of age.

Witness Statements [iii]

When interviewed in January 1917, Lance Corporal Howard Peters said he saw Forwood being picked up by stretcher-bearers near Le Transloy and later ‘saw a cross with his name being made at Headquarters.’ This statement was corroborated by 2241 Private William George Vesey.

In March 1917, Lance Corporal Joseph Pearson said Lieutenant Forwood’s father was an iron founder in Adelaide. He said Lieutenant Forwood was wounded by a shell when passing a tank as the company was coming out of the support Trenches at Flers and had later died of wounds.

CSM William Corfield also interviewed in March said Lieutenant Forwood was wounded while the Battalion was being relieved. ‘He got the full contents of a shrapnel shell and was carried to the dressing station at Flers about 12.30 midnight. He was carried in on a sledge and succumbed to his wounds. I knew him well.’

Reginald’s older brother Edgar (OS) served with the 1st Australian General Hospital as a driver and returned to Australia after the war.  

In a letter to Reginald’s father dated 27 October 1919, the OIC Base Records wrote he had received further information, which showed Lieutenant Forwood was wounded in action on 17 November 1916.

... admitted to the 1st ANZAC Midland Dressing Station on 19/11/16, and transferred to the 36 Casualty Clearing Station, where he died of his wounds (shell wound skull and left arm shattered)… [iv] 

With attack after attack being hampered by the morass of mud, Haig realised with what remained of the winter, his troops could do no more than continue to maintain pressure upon the Germans by a continuous program of small-scale attacks and raids.

The First Battle of the Somme concluded on 18 November and although the Germans had been heavily tested, they were not broken. The bloodiest battle of the Great War had cost the allied armies almost 624,000 casualties of which 23,250 were Australians. (Total population - five million)

Throughout the winter, the armies on the Somme including those of the enemy were battling the effects of poor morale, frostbite and horrendous weather conditions.

The troops were tired and often ill but there was much to be done as each side worked continuously to repair roads, restore or replace entire trench systems, move guns, refurbish equipment, mark tracks and lay thousands of duckboards to create dry standing and walk ways across the mud.

In a letter home, Lieutenant Tom English (OS) tried to describe the conditions created by the coldest weather across Europe since 1910. He and his friends had purchased a case of ginger ale with each bottle individually packed in a straw jacket, but when they finally managed to get the bottles out of their jackets, all were frozen and had to be thawed out before drinking. He wrote that after his batman had brought him some warm water he had placed his razor in it after shaving and when he went to retrieve it a quarter of an hour later, the razor had been frozen into the water and it ‘had to be put on the fire again to get it out.’ He told his family how after washing his hair he had only half dried it and by the time he walked to the other side of the hut to comb it, ‘it was standing on end frozen’ so he had to dip his hair in warm water before he was able to comb it.

By a good bit of luck our S.A. Battalion got S.A. Christmas Comforts, and I got one from the Headmaster, Staff, and boys of St Peter’s College. We just had one handed out to each, and mine was from the Old School – a bit of good luck wasn’t it. [v]



[i] The Register, 30 November 1916,  Forwood, Reginald Ernest
[ii] Dollman, W & Skinner H, The Blue and Brown Diamond, History of the 27th Battalion (AIF) on Active Service, Lonnen & Cope, Adelaide 1921, p. 67
[iii] Australian War Memorial, Australian Red Cross wounded and missing enquiry bureau files – Forwood, Reginald Ernest / 1090610, viewed 23 October 2005
[iv] National Archives of Australia: B 2455, Forwood Reginald Ernest / 4023401, viewed 25 May 2006
[v] St Peter’s School Magazine - W K Thomas & Co, Adelaide, May 1917, p. 62

 

 

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