Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 3, 1889
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinArthur Woods, father, 351 Chalmers Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingCivil Engineer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion51st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross and Bar
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 7, 1932
Age at Death43
Buried AtPacific Ocean

Woods, John Stanley

John Stanley Woods was born on 3  January 1889 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His father Arthur Woods, son of Irish immigrant Russel Woods and Quebec born Eliza Huston, grew up on a farm in the Kildare/Joliette, Quebec region. His mother Harriet Ross, daughter of William and Margaret (née Caswell) Ross was from the Township of Ross in the county of Renfrew where they farmed. Arthur and Harriet married on 27 February 1884 in Ross, occupation of Arthur given as baggage agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Rat Portage/Keewatin. After the wedding the couple settled in Rat Portage.

By 1901 Arthur was employed as a town constable and eventually became chief of police of Kenora. Involved in municipal affairs, he served as alderman for a number of years. Living in Rat Portage/Kenora, the family grew: William Harvey (b 1885), Arthur Lorne (b 1886), JohnStanley (b 1889), James Huston Ross (b 1893), MaryMarguerite (b 1894), Emily Eileen (b 1896), DorothyCaswell (b 1899), Victoria Evelyn (b 1901), RussellVernon (b 1903), and Helen Florence (b 1907).

Leaving the police force, Arthur worked in real estate before the family moved to Winnipeg in late 1911. After a lingering illness, Arthur died in February of 1915. The 1916 census found Harriet and the children living on Chalmers Avenue, Winnipeg North although Ross and Stanley were listed as serving in the military overseas.

Working as a civil engineer for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Stanley signed his attestation papers in Edmonton on 1 January 1915. With previous experience with the 98th Regiment, Canadian Militia, Lieutenant James Stanley Woods embarked from Montreal with the first reinforcing draft of the 51st Battalion on 11 June 1915 aboard the  Eagle Point.

After arriving overseas Stanley was transferred to the 9th Reserve Battalion and then to the 11th Reserve Battalion until he was posted to the Royal Canadian Regiment on 21 September 1915. He embarked for France the following April and on 22 September 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross. In the supplement to the London Gazette, 22 September 1916, Issue number 29760: ‘Lt John Stanley Woods, Can, Infy-For conspicuous gallantry when destroying an enemy post with its garrison. With another officer and a supply of explosive he forced his way through the wire round their post, and, though the enemy bombed heavily, he laid and exploded the charge successfully.’

In mid October Stanley was promoted to Temporary Captain. The following month he was admitted to the No 9 Field Ambulance, diagnosis PUO (pyrexia/fever of unknown origin), rejoining the unit in the field 9 days later. The following  March of 1917 he was granted a 10 day leave to Paris. In late August Stanley was detached to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot at Bramshott as an exchanged officer. While in England he was temporarily taken on strength with the 26th Reserve and then 17th Reserve battalions and then back again with the NSRD. He spent a week in the Bramshott Military hospital in September and later that month was granted a two week leave. He returned to France in December and rejoined the Royal Canadian Regiment on the 15th.

In February of 1918 Stanley was attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade at headquarters, seconded for duty  as staff learner. In August he was granted a 14 day leave to England and upon his return proceeded to 4 Army as learner. In November of 1918 Captain John Stanley Woods was awarded a Bar to the Military Cross. In the supplement to the London Gazette, 7 November 1918; 05 November 1918, Issue number 30997: ‘Capt. John Stanley Woods, M.C. Can.R-For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led a whippet Tanks in broad day light to its objective, under heavy fire. (Later, when the infantry advance was checked, he pushed forward over ground that was continually swept by machine-gun and rifle fire, to reconnoiter the position held by the enemy. He displayed great courage and initiative under difficult circumstances, and set a vey fine example to the men.’

Later that month Stanley was admitted to the No 55 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from influenza. Upon discharge on 11 December 1918 he proceeded to 4th Army Headquarters. In late February of 1919 he returned to England and sailed for Canada in early March. In July of 1919 Captain John Stanley Woods was Mentioned in Dispatches, LG 31448, 11 July 1919.

Upon returning to Canada Stanley married Alice Elizabeth Nash on 3 March 1927 in Winnipeg. The couple returned to Alice’s home in Victoria having given birth to one child, a daughter. Stanley continued to work for the armed forces with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In 1932 Stanley was reported as missing, lost off the April 7th ferry run between Victoria and Vancouver. His body was never recovered. In all likelihood he too was a casualty of the war and its aftermath.

Stanley’s mother Harriet and sisters Marguerite, Eileen (married Harold Dickie in Vancouver 1921, two sons), Dorothy (married Watkin Williams in 1926 in Winnipeg, two sons), and Helen all eventually moved to the Los Angeles area. Harriet died in 1940, Dorothy in 1973, Eileen in 1975, Marguerite in 1980, and Helen in 1990. His sister Victoria married Joseph LeBlanc and predeceased by her husband and survived by a son, died in Vancouver in 1980. His brother Lorne married Ethel Kelly in 1929 in Winnipeg and although he had lived and worked in Vancouver as a comptroller for BC Tourism, died in Victoria in 1972 (no children). His brother Russell stayed in Winnipeg, and survived by his wife Elinor and son Grant and family, died in 1984.

Stanley’s brother Ross enlisted in Winnipeg in October of 1915 and went overseas with the 90th Battalion aboard the  Olympic in May of 1916. After the war he returned to Winnipeg and married Priscilla Kruspe in 1926. Ross was very active in the Fort Rouge Curling Club and also served as president of the Manitoba Curling Association. Predeceased by his wife and survived by his daughter Mrs WJ (Joan) Fraser, Ross died in Winnipeg in 1950. He is interred in the Elmwood Cemetery.

Stanley’s brother  Harvey signed recruitment papers with the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment in Winnipeg in  November of 1917 followed by his medical examination in July of the following year. Stricken with influenza in October of 1918 in Winnipeg while waiting to go overseas, and his condition further complicated with pneumonia, Harvey was discharged as medically unfit in April of 1919 in Winnipeg. Harvey later  married Constance Woolgrove  of Northampton, England and the couple lived in Nanaimo for a number of years and had four children, a son and three daughters.  Harvey died in 1963 in Victoria.

Captain John  Stanley Woods, MC, is commemorated on a plaque hanging in Saint Paul’s Anglican Church in Victoria, British Columbia. Called the ‘Old Naval and Garrison Church’, it is located near West Point Barracks.

by Judy Stockham

Photograph of Saint Paul’s plaque provided by Sheila Woods.

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