William “Bill” Havens Wood was born in North Kingstown, Rhode Island on 30 July 1896. He was the youngest of three children of Arthur and Mary Wood. He entered Rhode Island State College in September 1915 with the Class of 1919, majoring in Electrical Engineering. He was a member of the track team where he ran on the champion relay team and participated in the Army ROTC program for two years.
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in World War I. Bill, like so many of his classmates, left college after his sophomore year to enter the United States Army and began his officer training at Plattsburg, New York in May 1917. In January 1918, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and immediately deployed to France. 2LT Wood was initially assigned as a Field Artillery platoon leader, 101st Artillery Regiment, 53rd Artillery Brigade, 26th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces. He was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment. On 27 May 1918, the Germans attacked the 26th Infantry Division as it was being shifted to the east in the vicinity of Bois de Jury and Bois de Hazelle. The 26th Division held, and the enemy was unable to penetrate their lines and was repulsed with severe losses.
Again, on 16 June 1918, the Germans launched an attack near the village of Xivray-Marvoisin. Preceded by a heavy bombardment, a strong German force moved against the village and nearby trenches. Failing to get within the Allied lines, the Germans withdrew leaving many dead and wounded on both sides. Sadly, 2LT Bill Wood was severely wounded during this battle and had to be medically evacuated. 2LT Wood was then evacuated to the United States where he was a patient at the Fox Hill Hospital, Staten Island, New York.
Bill Wood returned to Rhode Island in September 1920 and started classes at RISC with the class of 1923, majoring in Agriculture. He participated in track and was a member of the varsity relay team. The 1922/1923 Grist stated the following:
“Originally entered with the class of 1919, Bill Wood left school to attend the Officers’ Training Camp at Plattsburg, NY. Enlisting in the United States Army in May 1917, Second Lieutenant Bill Wood took part in many of the principal battles in the America sector.”
William Wood graduated from Rhode Island State College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture in June 1923. He and his wife Gertrude lived in Greenville, Rhode Island and had one son. Bill was employed as the County Agent, Smithfield, Rhode Island, for the Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC. William Wood died on 27 July 1969, at the age of 72 and was buried at Smithfield Town Farm Cemetery with full military honors.
Second Lieutenant William Havens Wood, United States Army, was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service during World War I. 2LT Wood is one of our military heroes who was severely wounded in combat and served with honor and courage during the “Great War.”