Steve Woodcock and his family had no idea their WWI veteran relative was part of Peter Jackson’s latest documentary until his sister recognised his voice at a recent screening.
Sidney Woodcock recounted his experience of the war to the Imperial War Museum in 1989, clips of which are used in They Shall Not Grow Old.
Steve said: “I was very pleased when I found out – it’s fabulous to know his memories have seen a new lease of life and he was a very kind and interesting guy so I’m really pleased.
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“Plus he liked being in the limelight so I think he would have enjoyed it.”
Sidney Alfred Woodcock served as a sergeant with the Mechanical Transport Section, Army Service Corps attached to Siege Batteries of Royal Artillery on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918.
He was responsible for moving large artillery guns into position on the front, having signed up aged 22.
Sidney came back home to fight having been an overseer on a sugar plantation on the Demerara River in British Guiana. His brother had already joined up but died of fever during Gallipoli.
The soldier was promoted to sergeant during the war and was awarded the Military Medal for recovering four howitzers during the Battle of the Somme. But he was sent home when a German bomb landed on his tent, leaving shrapnel in his back and arm, but killing his friend. Happily he went on to lead a very full life, Steve said, passing away aged 101 in 1994.
The Imperial War Museum collected more than two hours of Sidney’s recollections about surviving one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Jackson’s film uses a clip of him talking about how the guns went silent on November 11, 1918, for the first time in four years.
Steve said his family were delighted when they discovered Sidney’s memories from the war featured in the new film, which combines colourised original footage with audio from veterans in the BBC archives.
The documentary premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and is available in selected cinemas, but will screen on BBC Two at 9.30pm on Sunday as part of the commemorative coverage for the centenary of Armistice Day.