WOOD, Robert Taylor
(Service number 10/2385)

First Rank Private Last Rank Lance Corporal


Date 28 January 1877 Place of Birth Edinburgh, Scotland

Enlistment Information

Date 1 February 1915 Age 38 years
Address at Enlistment Stonehurst, Symonds Street, Auckland
Occupation Solicitor
Previous Military Experience Timaru Rifle Volunteers (Sen Lieut) - left district
Marital Status Married. Two children
Next of Kin Mrs Irene WOOD (wife), Highfield, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 141 lbs. Chest measurement 33½-37 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth sufficient. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhods, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. Fit.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 4th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Wellington Infantry Regiment
Date 17 April 1915
Transport Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
Embarked From Wellington Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Balkan (Gallipoli)
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 3 July 1916 Reason In consequence of being physically unfit for active service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

20 August 1915 - admitted to St David’s Hospital, Malta – slightly sick. 14 September 1915 - admitted to Bethnal Green Military Hospital, London. 15 June 1916 - left Hornchurch.

Post-war Occupations


Date 22 April 1918 Age 41 years
Place of Death Wellington Hospital, Wellington
Cause Result of war service
Notices Timaru Herald, 23 April 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Karori Cemetery, Wellington
Memorial Reference J. 14. Soldiers' Section
New Zealand Memorials Roll of Honour in the Auckland War Memorial Museum World War I Hall of Memories (R. T. WOOD)

Biographical Notes

Robert Taylor Wood, named for his paternal grandparents, was born on 28 January 1877 at Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the eldest son of John and Jessie (née Laing) Wood, of Highfield, Timaru. John and Jessie Wood came to New Zealand in 1880, with three young sons. In 1881 Mr Wood joined the service of the South Canterbury Education Board and was appointed headmaster of Temuka School. He was next headmaster of Timaru Main School, a position he had to relinquish after some years on account of ill health. At this time he returned to Scotland. In 1892, however, he was asked to return and fill the position of headmaster at Waimataitai School, which position he held for nine years until retirement.

Robert started his schooling at Awamoko School near Oamaru, moving to Temuka School after four months. From there he went to Southbridge School, transferring to Timaru Main in mid 1885. He continued his education at Timaru Boys’ High School. moving to Temuka School after four months. From there he went to Southbridge School, transferring to Timaru Main in mid 1885. He continued his education at Timaru Boys’ High School. He did well at school, receiving a Standard III prize in 1884 at Temuka, and doing a good paper in science in the scholarship examination conducted in December 1888. He ranked top of the junior scholars, scoring 573 marks out of 800 overall. In 1889 at the Timaru High School, Robert Wood was awarded prizes in English, mathematics and geometrical drawing. He was the one who delivered creditably Portia’s lines from “The Merchant of Venice”. In mid 1891 Robert Taylor Wood was reinstated as a scholarship holder at the Timaru High School till December 1891. R. T. Wood passed the matriculation examination in 1893. In 1894 at Waimataitai, he scored 781 marks out of possible 850 in the third year pupil teachers’ examination, and the following year gained second prize, nationally, (£3) for drawing in connection with the teachers’ examinations. He also earned special mention for English, drawing, elementary experimental science, algebra, and Euclid. Later in 1895 he again deserved special mention in the annual pupil teachers’ examinations, and in 1896 he was appointed assistant master at Waimataitai School, his nomination being preferred by the Board. At the same time his brother Tom was appointed a pupil teacher. A few months later, at a concert and dramatic entertainment to mark the opening of a new room, Mr R. T. Wood played a character in the farce “My Turn Next”, which went splendidly and was thoroughly appreciated by all. From 1896 through to 1910, Robert Taylor Wood was gazetted as a teacher.

Robert Wood went on to pursue university study, being granted one week’s leave of absence in September 1897 to attend the University examinations at Christchurch, and subsequently passing the first year examination. In 1898 he passed the second year examination. He was one of many former pupils of the Timaru High School to enjoy success the next year. His teacher classification was changed from E to C3. Early in 1900, Mr R. T. Wood applied for and was granted six months’ leave of absence from Waimataitai School, his brother T. Wood being recommended as locum tenens. Robert’s studies at the University of Otago that year resulted in Second Class passes in Political Economy, Jurisprudence and Constitutional History and Law, and a Junior First Class pass in Mental Science.

He was back in Timaru in February 1901, present at a meeting of the South Canterbury Schools Athletic Association. Shortly after Mr R. T. Wood, of the Waimataitai Public School staff, received word that he had passed the first section of the LL.B. degree examination. He resigned his position at Waimataitai School and was appointed second assistant master at the Timaru High School, at a salary of £175 per annum. The Waimataitai School Committee placed on record appreciation of his services and wished him success in his new role. In March Robert Wood was present at a meeting held to consider a proposal to establish classes in Timaru for University extension lectures. At the High School sports meeting in November he was appointed a judge, clerk of the course, and a handicapper. He also presented a prize for the 120 yards hurdle race. Robert was presented with the New Zealand University Diploma for Bachelor of Arts in mid 1901. Mr R. T. Wood was invested as an officer of St John’s Lodge in December 1901. He was the blackboard steward at swimming sports held in February 1902. Mr R. T. Wood had been secured as a teacher of English and mathematics, it was reported at the first annual meeting of the Timaru Technical Classes Association, held on 26 February 1902. Later in 1902 he was elected treasurer of the School Sports Association. In December 1902 Mr Wood completed his LL.B. examination and, completing the second examination in 1904, was qualified to receive the degree “on payment of the necessary fee”. The Timaru High School erected and unveiled an “Honours Board” in late 1908. It was very handsome and of imposing appearance. On the three panels were named in gold lettering the Honours (as they appeared in the University Calendar). The centre panel, labelled Degrees, includes R. T. Wood, B.A., ’01 [1901].

1903, Mr Robert T. Wood, B.A., LL.B., of Timaru, was appointed assistant master at Otago Boys’ High School. In late January the Timaru Rifles held a smoke concert to say farewell to Lieutenant R. T. Wood. He was presented with an inscribed gold medallion as a souvenir of his connection with the corps. He was soon appointed the school’s delegate to the Otago Rugby Football Union. He was also appointed honorary captain of the No. 2 Company Otago High School Cadets from 2 June 1903. And in July he demonstrated another talent – accompanist at the Boys’ High School Gymnastic Entertainment.

Robert married Irene Maud Madeline Waters on 25 June 1904 at Holy Trinity Church, Port Chalmers. They had two daughters - Marjorie Jessie McCarney Wood born on 9 February 1905 at Oxford, Canterbury, and Cicely Irene Wood born on 25 September 1906 at Dunedin. Robert and Irene divorced in 1917/1918, yet Irene was his next-of-kin when he died in April 1918. In February 1905, Mr R. T. Wood took on duties as temporary master at Timaru High School, and in March 1905 as temporary assistant at Waimate High School. In July the same year, he applied for the position of headmaster at Greymouth District High School. He was, however, appointed first assistant at Greymouth; and soon after he advertised that he was open to prepare candidates for matriculation, civil service, degree, law and other examinations. On Friday evening, 1 September 1905, Mr R. T. Wood, master of the (Greymouth) High School, suffered an unfortunate accident, when he was shifting some furniture. His foot slipped and he fell on his shoulder on concrete steps, dislocating his shoulder and severely cutting his face. Throughout 1906 and 1907 Robert played golf at Greymouth. In April 1908 good results in the Civil Service Examination were reported for Greymouth, thanks to an excellent teacher in Mr R. T. Wood. But in 1909 he resigned his position as a teacher at Greymouth Secondary School and severed his connection with Greymouth, selling up his household furniture and valuable collection of educational books. He was appointed temporary headmaster at Geraldine School. It appears that Robert and Irene parted ways at this time. By 1911 Irene had returned to Dunedin, while Robert was a clerk at Invercargill. The daughters were at school in Dunedin until1918 at least, under the guardianship of Mrs Wood. Robert had been on the literary staff of the Southland Times for some time, when, in June 1912, he was appointed first assistant of St John’s College, Auckland.

Robert Taylor Wood was admitted a barrister and solicitor in 1913 in Auckland. But, Robert Taylor Wood (born 1877; native of Scotland; solicitor’s clerk, journalist) got into some strife in Auckland. On 6 January 1914, charged with being a rogue and vagabond, he was sentenced to imprisonment. Discharged on 13 January, he was, on that date, convicted in the Auckland Magistrate’s Court for theft, drunkenness, and breach of his prohibition order, and was confined in Rotoroa Island. There was a motion for him to be suspended or struck off. His addiction to drink was known to his employer, his counsel said. In the course of a prolonged bout he had stolen a watch to purchase more liquor. “The accused admittedly bore an excellent character when not drinking.” The evidence of the superintendent at Rotoroa was that the defendant had behaved himself in an exemplary way. But after an adjournment, the Appeal Court made an order absolute to strike Robert Taylor Wood, of Auckland, off the rolls of barristers and solicitors of the Supreme Court, and ordered him to pay costs.

Robert Taylor Wood enlisted on 1 February 1915, at the age of 38. He gave his occupation as solicitor, was Presbyterian, married with two children, and was residing at Stonehurst, Symonds Street, Auckland. His nominated next-of kin was his wife at his parents’ address - Mrs Irene Wood, Highfield, Timaru. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed 141 pounds, had a chest measurement of 33½-37 inches, a dark complexion dark, blue eyes and dark hair. Sight - both eyes 6/6. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs, his limbs and chest well formed, and his teeth sufficient. In good bodily and mental health and vaccinated, with no diseases, slight defects or fits, he was deemed Fit. He had served as a senior lieutenant with the Timaru Rifle Volunteers until he left the district.

Private Robert T. Wood embarked at Wellington with the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the 4th Reinforcements on 17 April 1915. He joined his battalion at the Dardanelles on 9 June 1915. The terrible conditions on the peninsular must have taken its toll as he became sick as the campaign came to an end. From the Hospital Ship Valdina, he was admitted to St David’s Hospital, Malta, on 20 August 1915, slightly sick. Then, casualty List No. 221 recorded that Pte R. T. Wood, 10/2385, Wellington Battalion, had been admitted to Bethnal Green Military Hospital in London, on 14 September. He reported to Grey Towers on 23 March 1916, as ordered. Invalided and struck off the Strength of the N.Z.E.F., Private Wood left Hornchurch on 15 April 1916 to return to New Zealand. On 6 June 1916 Robert Taylor Wood arrived at Wellington, in the Athenic’s complement of sick and wounded soldiers. Although there were several cases of permanent disablement, it was reported that the men had greatly benefited by the voyage. They were accorded a civic reception. Robert and two others were to arrive at Timaru by the express the next afternoon. A letter dated 30 June 1915 noted his father - John Wood, Highfield, Timaru – as his next-of-kin. He was discharged on 3 July 1916, in consequence of being physically unfit for active service. He was noted as of good character.

Sadly, after his return home, Robert Taylor Wood was charged, in April 1917, with drunkenness (a second offence) and indecent exposure. Was he charged with the same offences a year later, while in custody? Robert Taylor Wood died on 22 April 1918 at Wellington Hospital, aged 41 years, and was buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington. His death was recorded as a war death (section 2) and his grave, marked as such, was registered as the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. R. T. Wood had served for one year and 51 days overseas, in Egypt and at Gallipoli. His medals – 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his wife in 1921, by which time she and her daughters had moved from Dunedin to Auckland. The scroll and plaque were despatched in August 1923. The name, R. T. Wood, is inscribed on the Roll of Honour in the Auckland War Memorial Museum World War I Hall of Memories. His daughters, Marjorie and Cicely married in 1938 and 1940 respectively. Irene Wood died in 1953 and was cremated at Waikumete in Auckland.

Mr John Wood, “a well read, refined, and highly cultured man”, died in July 1921, survived by his wife, Jessie and three sons – R. T. Wood, in the legal profession at Wellington (“at present on active service”), Jack Wood, in the Public Works Department at Whangarei, and James Wood. James Wood also served in World War One with the New Zealand Forces. The second of the four sons, Thomas Laing Wood, who had gained a commission with the Liverpool Regiment and served in the South Africa War, afterwards served as Captain of the Supply and Transport Corps in India, where he died, rather suddenly of the plague, at Cawnpore on 13 April 1913.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [06 February 2017]; NZ Defence Force Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5557 0124935) [07 February 2017]; CWGC [06 February 2017]; Timaru Herald, 20 December 1884, 18 January 1889, 20 December 1889, 5 June 1891, 9 March 1895, 2 August 1895, 21 & 25 April 1896, 29 July 1896, 23 September 1897, 9 November 1898, 12 October 1899, 7 February 1900, 11, 25 & 26 February 1901, 22 April 1901, 1 November 1901, 14 December 1901, 21 & 27 February 1902, 1 September 1902, 21 February 1905, 15 March 1905, 16 December 1908, 17 April 1909, 19 April 1913, 7 June 1916, 12 July 1917, 23 June 1918, Temuka Leader, 2 & 6 February 1894, 9 August 1894, 5 August 1905, Press, 21 February 1895, 8 November 1897, 1 May 1901, 13 July 1917, Otago Daily Times, 3 November 1900, 16 December 1902, 9 & 16 January 1903, 5 April 1904, 8 August 1904, , 7 June 1916, Evening Star, 3 November 1900, 5 July 1901, 21 January 1903, 30 March 1903, 23 & 30 July 1903, 5 & 7 June 1916, Lyttelton Times, 28 January 1903, Otago Witness, 13 July 1904, Grey River Argus, 11 July 1905, 4 September 1905, Greymouth Evening Star, 24 August 1905, 27 April 1908, Auckland Star, 7 November 1913, New Zealand Herald, 17 January 1914, 12 April 1917, 19 March 1938Evening Post, 5 & 15 October 1914, 25 September 1915, 1 June 1916, 8 April 1918, Star, 29 October 1914, New Zealand Times, 12 August 1915, 6 June 1916, 11 April 1918 (Papers Past) [06 February 2017; 17 September 2020]; School Admission records (Oamaru & South Canterbury branches NZSG) [05 February 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [06 February 2017]

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