The Highest Honour #47 | James Wood | Guy Wylly

Private James Park Wood VC (1886 - 1963, 77yo)

James Wood was born on 04 January 1886 in Two Wells, South Australia. His parents died early in his life and was raised by his step-sister and to get by worked on a vineyard with his brothers. Woods attempted to enlist when World War One broke out but was rejected due to his short height. He travelled to Western Australia and attempted to enlist with more failures but on 29 September 1916 he was finally successful when the height requirements were lowered. He deployed as a reinforcements with the 48th Battalion.

On 18 September 1918, the 48th Battalion attacked the Hindenburg outpost line near Le Verguier, north-west of St Quentin. It took its objective, but British troops on the Australian flank were held up and a company of the 48th was sent in support. Ordered on patrol, Woods and two companions discovered a German post comprising six machine-guns and over thirty troops. Without waiting for the force which was being organised to assault the strong-point, Woods led his small party against it. One German was wounded, another was captured and the rest of the garrison fled. The Germans then counter-attacked. Despite heavy fire, Woods climbed onto the parapet and, while lying there, held off successive attacks by throwing bombs handed to him by his companions. So effective was his defence that, when Australian reinforcements arrived, they were easily able to secure the post. Woods was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the action.

Woods returned to Australia in August 1919 but was plagued with ill health from the war. In 1937 he finally received a full pension and although only given a few years to live, enjoyed a quite retirement for the next 26 years. Woods died on 18 January 1963 and is buried in Karrakatta cemetery.

Major Guy George Egerton Wylly VC, DSO (1880 - 1962, 81yo)

Guy Wylly was born on 17 February 1880 in Hobart, Tasmania. On 26 April 1900 he deployed from Hobart as a Lieutenant with the 3rd Contingent. On arrival in South Africa the unit was absorbed into the 4th Imperial Bushman.

On 01 September 1900 he had command of a troop of bushmen escorting a foraging party near Warmbad, Transvaal. Scouting ahead, he and seven others rode into an ambush in a narrow gorge: six men were wounded, including Wylly. Corporal E. S. Brown was hit in the leg and unhorsed. Wylly went to his aid, gave him his horse, then opened fire from behind a rock, enabling Brown and other men to withdraw, before he made his own escape. For his gallantry Wylly was awarded the Victoria Cross. Trooper J. H. Bisdee won the Victoria Cross during the same action.

After the war he served with the Indian Army, eventually retiring as a Colonel in 1933. He was a staff officer during the First World War and for some time was attached to Australian formations. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1918. Having retired to Britain, he eventually died there in 1962.