William H. Wood (1918/03/19)
A violent explosion at sea ended the naval service of a Santa Cruz gunner's mate.
William Henry Wood's birth date and place of birth have not been identified. His mother's name was Virginia. William and his sister, Mrs. W. M. Sherer, may have spent a portion of their formative years in the county and attended local schools, but that has not been established. It is also possible that Gunner's Mate Wood was a member of the local naval reserve unit prior to World War I, as a "W Wood" is included in its roster. When he began his active duty service in the US Navy, he was assigned to the destroyer USS Manley.
“After fitting out in Boston Navy Yard, Manley sailed 25 November 1917 to join the convoy escort and patrol forces based at Queenstown, Ireland. On the morning of 19 March 1918, while Manley escorted a convoy, a violent explosion, caused by the accidental detonation of her depth charges practically destroyed her stern, killing her executive officer, Lt. Comdr. Richard M. Elliot, Jr., and 33 enlisted men. Fragments pierced two 50-gallon drums of gasoline and two tanks containing 100 gallons of alcohol. The leaking fluids caught fire as they ran along the deck and enveloped the ship in flames which were not extinguished until late that night.”
The Navy department sent a telegram to his mother, Virginia Wood, on March 25 informing her that her son had been a victim of that explosion and that they were unable to recover his body. They further noted, "the bureau is reluctantly compelled to believe that he has lost his life."
In addition to being recognized on the World War I Memorial in Santa Cruz, William H. Wood is included on the Tablet of the Missing at Suresnes American Cemetery in France.
(ABMC; SCSf March 26, 1918 3:1; WIKI, USS Manley)