|Date of Birth||November 8, 1890|
|Place of Birth||Chiddingley, Sussex|
|Next of Kin||William Woodgate, father, Monkhurst Farm, Sandy Cross Heathfield, Sussex, England|
|Trade / Calling||Motor Mechanic|
|Battalion||Show Grounds Camp, Sydney|
|Force||Australian Imperial Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||171 William Street, Darlinghurst, New South Wales|
|Date of Enlistment||November 6, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||27|
|Theatre of Service||Australia|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||April 15, 1968|
|Age at Death||77|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Thomas Woodgate was born on 8 November 1890 in Chiddingley, Sussex, England. His father William Woodgate was from nearby Hellingly while his mother Phoebe Smith was from Chiddingley. The couple married in October of 1877 in Hellingly where William was working as an agricultural labourer. Thomas had at six older siblings, Mary Ann, David, William, Emily, Frederick, and Rosina (Rose) and five younger siblings, Harry, Ruth, Phoebe, Richard, and Charles. Another child had been born to the family but did not survive infancy. The 1891 census found the family living in Chiddingley with father William working as a farm labourer. By the time of the 1901 census the family had relocated to Heathfield where William found employment as a stockman/cattleman, and by the 1911 census William and Phoebe and some of the younger children were living in Waldron, William working as an agricultural waggoner.
At some point Thomas immigrated to Australia where he held a variety of jobs and obtained his papers in the goldfields of Calgoorlie and Koolgardie. He was living in Darlinghurst in New South Wales when he signed his attestation papers on 6 November 1917. He was working as a motor mechanic at the time and gave his father William back in Heathfield, England as next of kin. For reasons unknown he gave his birth year as 1892. However Thomas’ service was to be very short as he was found medically unfit and discharged from service on November 14th. He was found to have rhonchi in the chest (coarse rattling respiratory sounds, usually caused by secretions in bronchial airways) as well as varicose veins, both that would interfere with training.
Thomas immigrated to Canada in 1923, arriving in Vancouver on February 12th aboard the Matatua. He was headed to northwestern Ontario where his brother David was living in the area between Emo and Fort Frances. David and brother William had immigrated to Canada in 1911. By that August Thomas had settled in Kenora, Ontario where he began work on the construction of the power house and the paper mill. On 26 October 1926 in Kenora, Thomas married Mary Wilson. Born in LaVallee (village between Emo and Fort Frances), Mary was the daughter of Henry Wilson and Edith Alma Been. Thomas’ brother David had married Mary’s sister Elizabeth in 1919 in Emo.
Thomas and Mary were to make Kenora their home, Thomas working as a stationary engineer in the steam plant at the mill until his retirement in the early 1960’s. The couple had three children, son Bill and daughters Muriel and Edythe. Thomas was affiliated with Pequonga Lodge AF and AM and was a member of Golden Chapter No 90, Royal Arch Masons.
Thomas died on 15 April 1968 in the Kenora General Hospital. At the time he was survived by his wife Mary of Kenora, son Bill of Vancouver, daughters Muriel (Gerald) Bell of Fredericton, New Brunswick and Edythe (JM) Gibson of Calgary, Alberta. He was also survived by siblings Mary Ann Leeves, Emily Oliver, Phoebe Peters, Richard, and Charles, all back in England. He was predeceased by his mother (1938), father (1941), both in England, and siblings William (1918 in Cobourg, Ontario), Harry (1918), Rosina (1932 in England), Frederick (1954 in Vancouver), and David (1968 in Fort Frances). Thomas’ wife Mary died on 24 July 1996 and is interred with Thomas in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
Thomas’ brother David enlisted in Fort Frances in May of 1916 and went overseas with the 141st Battalion. He returned to Canada in August of 1919, unit listed on the passenger list as Canadian Army Medical Corps. Thomas’ brother Harry served as a Sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment with the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force. He was reported as killed in action on 28 October 1918. Harry is interred in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery in Baghdad, Iraq.
by Judy Stockham