Wyndham History

Joseph Woodcock (1861-1934)


Placeholder image - Veteran.png

Dublin Core



Joseph Woodcock (1861-1934)





Wyndham City Libraries





World War One Veterans Item Type Metadata


Joseph Woodcock


Service Number


Enlistment Date

Next of Kin

Mrs S A Woodcock,
Watton Street,
Werribee, Victoria

Address at time of Enlistment

Watton Street,
Werribee, Victoria

Marital Status


Death Date

Place of Burial

Werribee Cemetery

Biographical Text

No.686  Corporal Joseph Woodcock
Joseph Woodcock was born at Dumfries, Scotland in 1861.* (He dropped his birth year back to 1872 when he enlisted in the A.I.F.). His parents were Joseph Woodcock and Elizabeth Hanen.**

Pre War
There is a possible marriage record on Find My Past with Joseph Woodcock marrying Sarah Ann Carter at Radcliffe, St Mary, Manchester, on 29 May 1880. The groom's father was also a Joseph Woodcock, and the bride's father was Eli Carter.

Joseph Woodcock embarked from England per the Doric, in c1884, with the intention of migrating to Wellington, New Zealand. While en-route there, his boat docked at Hobart, and after Joseph went ashore, he failed to return to his ship on time. It subsequently sailed without him.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 October 1929, p.1.

Left in Hobart, he obtained work with a Mr Bell, who was a local construction contractor. Joseph's first big job was to work on the construction of the new break-water at Burnie. This led to other construction works, and he became the principle diver for under-water construction in Tasmania.

His expertise led him to move to Victoria, where he was employed on the construction of the breakwater at Warrnambool, in Western Victoria.

In about 1893, Joseph moved to Werribee, and worked in the construction business. He was responsible for the construction *** of the Guiding Star bridge**** at Brooklyn in c1894, and during the construction of the jetty at the Metro Farm, he was in charge of the engineering plant.

In about 1903, as noted in his obituary, he opened his Wood and Coal business in Werribee.
Werribee Shire Banner, 25 January 1934, p.2.

In the 1903 Electoral Roll, Joseph Woodcock and Sarah Ann Woodcock were living in Watton Street Werribee. Joseph’s occupation then was a Wood and Coal Merchant.
Ancestry.com – Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980, District Corio.

"During the large Railway Strike in c.1903, Mr Woodcock volunteered, and was given permission to bring the train to Werribee, his knowledge of engineering fitting him for the task". Obituary published in the Werribee Shire Banner, 25 January 1934, p.2.

The Victorian Railways had advertised for men with previous locomotive experience to work at double salary, for the duration of the current strike.
The Age, 13 May 1903, p.10.

His actions during the strike were reported thus: "Mr. J. Woodcock, who offered his services to the state during the recent railway strike, and who was accepted, returned lo Werribee last week. Mr Woodcock was one of the first drivers accepted and rendered valuable service on the suburban routes He does not intend to resume duty again, and has resigned his position, as he is an independent man. The residents of Werribee intend giving him a smoke night and presentation to recognise his services on Saturday evening".
The Argus, 10 June 1903, p.9.

Joseph Woodcock was presented with a with an inscribed  gold locket in recognition of his duties during the Victorian Railway Engine Drivers and Firemen's strike, May 1903.
Bacchus Marsh Express, 20 June 1903, p.4.

In the 1903-09 Electoral Rolls, Joseph Woodcock and Sarah Ann Woodcock were living in Watton Street Werribee. Joseph’s occupation then was a Wood and Coal Merchant.
Ancestry.com – Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980, District Corio.

The Electoral Roll for 1912-17 show he has changed his occupation, and he is now an "Engineer". The family home was still in Watton Street, Werribee.

In 1912, he nominated as a candidate for the Central Riding of the Werribee Shire Council.
In his electoral manifesto, he sought support from the electors, and cited his previous practical experience in road construction, bridge building and other public works.
Werribee Shire Banner, 8 August 1912, p.2.

His campaign was not well received by the voters, and he only received 16 votes out of a pool of 743 electors.
Werribee Shire Banner, 22 August 1912, p.2.

In 1914, Mr Woodcock held a contract from the Werribee Shire Council to pump the towns water. He was to start operations on 1 August 1914.
Werribee Shire Banner, 30 July 1914, p.3.

Joseph Woodcock spoke at a public meeting held in the Werribee Mechanic’s Hall in May 1915, in which settlers on the Werribee Estate asked for the co-operation of the business people, and the general public, in urging the Water Supply Commissioners to supply them with water, so that they could carry on. It appeared that no water would be available for them, until the Exford Weir could be completed.
Werribee Shire Banner, 13 May 1915, p.3.

In 1915, Joseph Woodcock was a member of the committee of the Werribee Agricultural Society.
Werribee Shire Banner, 24 June 1915, p.3.

In partnership with Mr J. Carter, they operated a hire car business in Watton Street.
Werribee Shire Banner, 1 July 1915, p.2.

They put their car at the disposal of the local Red Cross Society, to allow people to attend the meetings. This business operated all through the war years.
Werribee Shire Banner, 1 July 1915, p.3.

Before being accepted into the A.I.F., Joseph Woodcock had applied previously to enlist, but had been rejected as medically unfit. When he was accepted, his medical report stated that he was 44years and 10 months of age, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighed 205 pounds.

War Service
On his second attempt, Joseph Woodcock enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 17 January 1917, and was sent to the military camp at Royal Park. One week later he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and appointed to the Railway Unit’s 2nd Section.

New recruit, Corporal Woodcock spoke at a crowded recruitment campaign meeting, held in the Werribee Mechanic’s Hall, on 7 February 1917. This was just days before his own embarkation overseas.
Werribee Shire Banner, 8 February 1917, p.2.

At the age of 45 years (in reality 56 years old), Corporal Joseph Woodcock embarked at Melbourne per H.M.A.T. Ballarat A70, on 19 February 1917, with the Railway Unit, No.2 Section.

While at sea, he wrote a long letter to Mr John Ball, dated 14 March 1917, in which he describes his life at sea, and his enthusiasm for what lay ahead. He regretted that his age was a barrier, but was proud to be with his fellow hero’s.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 May 1917, p.1.

The voyage wasn’t all smooth sailing though. As the Ballarat was crossing the English Channel it was torpedoed. All on board were saved, including three Werribee boys; Private J. Woodcock, Private Thomas Peacock, and Private W Beamish.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 May 1917, p.2.

He disembarked at Devonport in England on 25 April 1917, and two days later, marched in to the 1st A.R.O.D [Australian Railway Operating Division] at Bordon. This was a small village in Kent, with a military camp close by. The camp was serviced by a narrow gauge railway line.

The Unit War Diary says "On the 27th April 1917, the 2nd Section Australian Railway Troops – Composed of Victorian Railway men – now known as the 1st Australian Light Railway Operating Company – Australian Railway Operating Division – marched in. They were commanded by Captain Duncan, and their strength was 3 Officers and 261 Other Ranks."

On 29 May 1917, Corporal Woodcock sailed to France, with his unit – the 1st Australian Light Railway Operating Company.  Their strength was three Officers and 220 Other Ranks. The unit’s role was mainly the transportation of ammunition, vehicles, and material.

Two months later, on 16 July 1917, Joseph was admitted to hospital suffering with synovitis# on his left knee. The injury was the result of an accident while he was driving a locomotive, and an inquiry found that no one was to blame.

After initial treatment in France, Joseph was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship Ville de Lege.  He was then admitted to the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge, and later, transferred to the 3rd Australian Hospital at Dartford. Joseph remained hospitalised until 17 October 1917.

On 5 February 1918, a decision was made, that Joseph would return to Australia “for a change”.  It was also recognised that he was overaged and had a ‘disorg’ left knee joint. Joseph returned home on the H.T. Persic, and was discharged from the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 15 August 1918.

Post War
Former Corporal Joe Woodcock was one of thirteen returned soldiers who were presented with a gold medal, at a function held in the Werribee Mechanic’s Hall on 24 August 1918. Each man was presented with their medal by Cr, McMurray, the chairman of the Returned Soldiers’ Committee.
Werribee Shire Banner, 5 September 1918, p.3.

The Victorian Electoral Rolls between 1919-31 show he has returned to his previous occupation of "Engineer", and the family home was still at Watton Street, Werribee.

During his time in Werribee, Joseph was a keen and long-time supporter of the Werribee Farmer's Picnic Committee. There is a report of him attending a committee meeting in 1915, to discuss plans for the Annual Marine Picnic. It was to be held at Sorrento, and travel there to be per the ferry Weeroona. All profits from the day would go to the Patriotic Fund.
Werribee Shire Banner, 14 January 1915, p.3.

In 1929, Joseph Woodcock undertook a tour to “the Old World”.  While travelling to England on the Corinthie, he made the acquaintance of a missionary called The Rev A. W. Benton, and he explained to Joseph how he was about to journey to the upper reaches of the Amazon River.  This attracted the interest of Joseph, and he volunteered to accompany the reverend as engineer on his 70 foot motor launch.

After returning to Australia, Joseph Woodcock supervised the erection of the new bell on the Werribee Fire Station in late 1933.

Joseph Woodcock died at Werribee in 1934, at the age of 73 years, and is buried in the local cemetery. His funeral was attended by a large number of local mourners and dignitaries.
Werribee Shire Banner, 25 January 1934, p.2.
Digger – Death Index 1921-1985. Cert 1934/13520.

Sarah Ann Woodcock survived her husband by 14 years, and died in Werribee in 1948.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 November 1948, p.2.

Medals and Entitlements:

  • British War Medal – No.64120
  • Victory Medal – No.61961


Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: WOODCOCK, J

The name “Woodcock, J. from Werribee” first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 4 January 1917, p.1.

* Birth year is from his obituary notice.

** Parents names from the Digger Death Index for Joseph Woodcock.

*** Construction of the Guiding Star Bridge – This refers to the extension and repairs to the existing bridge.
Williamstown Chronicle, 1 September 1894, p.3.

**** The Wyndham Shire Council re-let the contract for the repairs to the Guiding Star Bridge in May 1895, to Eldridge and Woodcock.
Bacchus Marsh Express, 11 May 1895, p.3.

#Synovitis is an inflammation of the tissues that line a joint. It is commonly associated with specific diseases, such as arthritis or gout, but it may also be the result of overuse or trauma. Symptoms of synovitis may include redness, swelling, warmth and pain with joint motion.



Unit War Diary


Service Record


Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD

Medals and Entitlements

British War Medal
Victory Medal


“Joseph Woodcock (1861-1934),” Wyndham History, accessed September 22, 2023, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/2581.


Social Bookmarking