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WOOD, Henry Somerville (1894-1968)

WOOD, Henry Somerville (1894-1968)

henry Somerville Wood, businessman, the son of Henry and Elizabeth nee Somerville was born at Geelong and studied at Geelong College in 1908.

Although little else is known about him the following account appeared in Pegasus of 1918.

'In 1914, he accepted an engagement with the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego at Punta Arenas, Chile, South America. This is a wealthy British Company, and controls enormous tracts of country, principally in Patagonia and Chile, where it runs huge flocks and herds. It also erected very large freezing works at Puerto Natales and Bories. After a couple of years on various properties. Wood was transferred to the Freezing Works, where he attained to the position of second manager. On hearing of the deaths of his old School pals Jack Paul and Murray Starrer, he decided to go to the Front, and applied to be relieved of his engagement, but a Director went out and persuaded him that he was doing more for his country than if he was in the trenches, as the soldiers had to be fed, and large supplies of frozen meat were being constantly shipped from the Freezing Works to the order of the British Government. There was only a handful of Britishers to control over a thousand bloodthirsty savages, who were never without their gun and a murderous knife, and thought absolutely nothing of taking life. Although the Chilian Government declared war on Germany, the officials were bribed with German money, and the position to-day is that the whole country is under German influence, and a Britisher is hated beyond description.

Shortly after the Declaration of War, it became apparent to the Company that sinister influences were at work, and the lives of the few Britishers were more insecure than ever. The newspapers were under German influence, and strike followed strike with the regularity of clockwork, and owing to the lack of protection from the Authorities, the Company had no option but to 'give in' to the numerous demands made upon them, in their endeavour to keep the supplies up. Murders frequently occurred, and various portions of the Company's properties were set on fire. Still the work was kept going somehow, until the final scene was enacted on the 23rd January, when ‘Hell’ fairly broke loose, and Wood was shot over the heart by one of the leaders of the wild and howling savage rnob who were well paid for their bloody work by Germany. A vivid account of this outrage appeared in the pages of a Buenos Aires newspaper. Unfortunately our space is too limited to print it in full. We are pleased to state that, in a letter since received from Mr Wood he reports that he has almost recovered from his wound and is able to ride and shoot as well as ever. His present engagement will terminate in August 1920, when he purposes coming over to visit the land of his birth and get into touch with civilisation again after six years' absence.'

Sources: Pegasus August 1918 pp 22, 23.
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