Name & Rank:
Captain Claud Humpston Woollatt
Birth date & Location:
28 January 1887 in Forest Gate, West Ham
Edith Woollatt and Randal Woollatt (deceased 3 February 1902). His father was a national schools administrator who died at the age of forty-four leaving behind a wife and four children.
The family lived at a named home ‘Beauvais’ in Ditton Hill which is in Surbiton, Surrey. Woollatt also had a brother in service with the 7/Queen’s, Philip Reginald Woollatt, and had two sisters Mary Louise and Doris Julia Woollatt. Woollatt and his brother were both educated at Cheltenham College before serving in different battalions of the same regiment.
Woollatt was commissioned through the Inns of Court OTC in August 1914. He then joined the 8th Battalion, The Queen’s on November 12, 1914. At five foot ten and one hundred and fifty pounds, he was athletically built. Aside from some dental issues, he was relatively healthy. In service, he was in platoon command at Loos and rose to the rank of captain by 1916. He was in command of A Company when the battalion deployed to the Somme. At the battalion’s only major engagement in that campaign – Guillemont – Woollatt was killed along with his fellow company commander, Douglas Lane-Nichols. Though we do not have details of his manner of death, it is worth noting that he died five weeks after his brother was killed at the Somme near Trones Wood on June 14, 1916. In fact, in coming up the line to their position near Guillemont, Woollatt passed the area in which his brother’s battalion (7/Queen’s) fought and where his brother’s body likely lay.
As is the case with his brother, Philip has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial to the missing.
Woollatt’s mother Edith received notice of the death of both of her sons within a six–week period over the summer of 1916. She was the sole beneficiary of his estate, small compensation for the tragedy she would live with for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, Woollatt’s story took an odd bureaucratic turn after his death. On his person when he died was A Company’s public money, which he unfortunately took into the trenches with him. His estate was docked £52 after it was found that he erred by taking public funds into the trenches. His mother received the reduced estate. She also received his personal effects from the battalion baggage, which she acknowledged on black bordered mourning stationary in a letter to the War Office. Woollatt’s personal effects indicate that he was a well-cared for officer and gentleman. They also serve as a reminder that beyond the name etched in stone at Thiepval, that he was a human being who every day dressed, washed and shaved his face, ate with his brother officers, and ultimately died in the service of his nation at twenty-nine years of age.
Death date & Location:
21 August 1916, Guillemont, France