Archibald Wood

(1865-1930) – Jingoistic vicar

In October 1914 Reverend Archibald Wood rejoiced that several fellows from the village had joined the army but, by July 1915, he was lamenting the men who hadn’t. At a meeting he announced there were ‘still 50 eligibles left in the parish and … they would have to leave Gerrans or join the force.’

Credit: Gerrans Heritage Centre

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The Reverend Archibald Harry Wood was instituted as Rector of Gerrans in 1908. He appears to have been a very forceful man, patriotic in the extreme, as his activities in the parish during the First World War demonstrate.

From the onset he established himself as unofficial recruitment officer for the armed forces, exhorting the young men of the parish to enlist. In August 1915 a recruiting detachment of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry visited the parish. They were joined by the band of the 4th Yorkshire Regiment from the nearby fort at St Anthony. It was on this occasion that the Reverend Wood was seen standing on the village green, spurring the young men to enlist or leave the parish. Later he commented on the fine well-behaved soldiers stationed locally and remarked that ‘one wonders more and more every day how it is possible for the slackers we have left in the parish to endure the sight of these lads in khaki.’

By 1917, however, he held a memorial service for the many fine young men of the parish who had been killed, wounded or missing. In September of the same year he was declared bankrupt, but continued to serve the parish until his retirement in 1926.  He died at Edmonton, Middlesex, in 1930, aged 65.

Key words: recruitment

Credit: Gerrans Heritage Centre