Born in Worcestershire in 1915. Billie proved an outstanding student at his primary school and was offered at a place at the local Grammar School. His parents felt they couldn’t afford this, so Billie went to the National School in Defford Road. He did very well and excelled at both sporting and academic studies and won several prizes both on and off the field.
On leaving school, Billie enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps and was posted to Shanghai, where he spent the next three and a half years. On returning to England his unit was sent to France as part of the BEF and he was eventually evacuated from Dunkirk.
On 17th November 1943 he attended Parachute Course No.92 at Ringway and from here he went to the Depot and School of Airborne Forces at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. In February 1944 he was commissioned and posted to 156 Parachute Battalion as Lieutenant in command of No.6 Platoon B Company under Major John Waddy who was the CO.
On 18th September 1944 Wood and his Platoon parachuted into Arnhem as part of the 4th Parachute Brigade.
On 20th September, as the remnants of the 4th Brigade were attempting to withdraw across the railway embankment that separated them from the rest of the Division in Oosterbeek, Wood’s Platoon were ordered to hold the level crossing at Wolfheze to enable the rest of the Brigade to cross. Once the Brigade had crossed Wood’s platoon was cut off and were holding out in a small house south of the railway crossing. A German tank began shelling the house, blasting holes in the walls and wounding several of the men inside. Wood ran out of the house threw a grenade at the tank. The tank’s machine gun instantly fired back and Wood was hit by a blast which tore his left arm and shoulder to shreds and he also sustained shrapnel wounds all over his body. As he fell he called out to his batman, Private Ernest Syner, who ran out of the house to help him. Syner was also cut down by the tank’s machine guns.
Wood and Syner were taken to a hospital in Utrecht where the Medical Officer of the 156 Battalion, John Buck saw them. Buck recalls “I vividly remember the other patient who died in my care. An officer (Wood) was shot through both elbows. If I had chopped off an arm he would have probably lived. ‘What-if’s’ were of great concern for the would be surgeon back then.” Wood passed away in his sleep. His batman, Ernest Syner, remained in hospital until April 1945 when he was transferred to a POW camp in Germany, and was released the following month.
Reproduced by kind permission of John O'Reilly (author of 156 Parachute Battalion: From Dehli to Arnhem, 2009, Thoroton Publishing) and compiled for ParaData with assistance of Phil Jennett
Original text compiled by John O'ReillyRead More