A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Ventnor -
- Methodist Church - Desmond Woodnutt Memorial -


Held by Ventnor Heritage Museum, Spring Hill, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Formerly in Methodist Church, High Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
IWM War Memorials Archive Record

The memorial is not currently recorded by the War Memorials Archive

Brass memorial plaque. Approx 15" x 8".

Following the closure of the Church in 2008, the Memorial plaques were transferred to the Ventnor Heritage Museum,
to whom thanks are due for allowing me to photograph the Memorial plaques.

Ventnor  Methodist Church Desmond Woodnutt memorial
Ventnor  Methodist Church

His Lieutenant wrote of him.


Further Information

Desmond Woodnutt

Son of the Revd. Alfred George Woodnutt and Helen Woodnutt, of Ventnor, Isle of Wight.

Born : 1913, London (but registration details not found)

Service information :

Sapper 1894107 Desmond Woodnutt, Royal Engineers, and 2 Troop, 11 Commando.

Casualty information :

Died 9 June 1941, aged 28.

Buried at : Sidon War Cemetery, Lebanese Republic.

CWGC record ...

Commemorated on these Memorials :

Ventnor War Memorial
Ventnor Methodist Church Roll of Honour

Documents and newspaper cuttings :


Friday, June 7, 1940 Page 2

Ventnor and the War
... We hear that Mr. Desmond Woodnutt, son of the Rev. A.G. Woodnutt, has arrived safely in England.
(not all the report has been transcribed)


Friday, July 25, 1941 Page 1

The congregation at the High Street Methodist Church on Sunday evening were shocked to hear that Mr. Desmond Woodnutt, only son of the Rev. A.G. Woodnutt, of Thalassa, Gill's Cliff Road, had been killed in action on June 9th whilst serving with the R.E's. in the Middle East. It fell to the lot of the Rev. A.J. Keeley, who was taking the service, to break the distressing news. Mr. Desmond Woodnutt looked wonderfully fit and well when he last visited his home early in the New Year, and spend a very happy time amongst the many friends he had made in this district. He was one of those who had safely come through the ordeal of the Dunkirk evacuation. A regular reader of the Mercury, Mr. Woodnutt found it an interesting link with home, and a weekly copy had followed him in his varied journeyings. We are sure his parents will have the abundant sympathy of a wide circle of friends in their irreparable loss. A specially written tribute to the memory of a fine Christian gentleman appears on page 3.

Page 2
WOODNUTT. - Desmond, R.E., the dearly loved son of the Rev. A.G. and Mrs. Woodnutt, was killed in action in the Middle East on 9th June. Memorial service in the High Street Methodist Church, Sunday morning, August 3rd, at 11.0 a.m. -Preacher Rev. W. Sinclair-Smith.

Page 3

Desmond Woodnutt
An Appreciation
All who knew Desmond Woodnutt will be grieved at the news which came to his father and mother on Thursday last and was announced in the High Street Methodist Church on Sunday evening. He was killed in action on June 9th in the Middle East. He was 28 years of age.
Desmond was one of the choice souls of this earth. He had a great love of all that was beautiful, particularly in nature. He travelled miles on his bicycle to find and enjoy the countryside of England. As a lay evangelist he was appointed to Sark in the Channel Islands. The loneliness of this small island appalled many of his predecessors, but he loved it and was never tired of talking of its wonders. Later the Isle of Wight, and particularly Ventnor, caught that secret place in a worshipful heart which was always reaching out towards the highest and the best, whether it were in nature, music, literature or religion. Whatsoever things are lovely he thought on these things. He had no wish to spend his holidays abroad; he delighted in England with its country lanes, cathedrals and village chapels. But the passion of his life centred around his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. From a child Jesus was a vivid reality to him. The One with whom, being an only child, he shared his games, his little jokes, and later, his perplexities. Having taken his burdens to his Saviour, he left them there, and it was one of the amazements of his life that Christian people could carry the load which they had laid upon Jesus. In that sense of anxious thought he looked neither forward nor back. From a boy of nine the Methodist hymn book became of his constant companion, treasured and known as few know it.
When the door to the Methodist ministry was closed to him he felt he could not consider the advice of his friends to enter the ministry of some other church. He said his call was to the Methodist Church. To him and to his many friends it was a great mystery that he was not accepted for the Methodist Ministry. He seemed suited for it beyond the ordinary. He was a choice preacher, with the maturity of a developed man. His delivery was not good, but everyone felt that would have been put right by college training. He read widely and was able to give out of the fullness of that reading, preaching for the most part without notes and with a quiet dignity which appealed to all. One cultured lady remarked "his prayers are wonderful; they are the prayers of a man of forty." His exam marks and his votes in all but the final committee were above the average, but his intense reserve, coupled with his eagerness to succeed probably handicapped him, and the final committee never saw his real self. However, in spite of his severe disappointment, he turned immediately to church activities, becoming one of the Sunday School superintendents, and one of the Society stewards of the High Street Methodist Church, going on with his preaching, ever longing to bring in the Kingdom. Nobody will ever know how he watched over younger lives in Ventnor. Prayer was vital to him; he truly "walked with God, and was not, for God took him." Soon after the war broke out, although he was in a reserved occupation, he volunteered for the Royal Engineers, later applying and being accepted for a course of intensive training of a secret nature, which being of a specially dangerous character, may have accounted for his early death. Really his views were Pacific, but he said, as a saintly soul would say, that he did not live up to the highest ideal in everything, and therefore felt he could not claim that position in such a crisis as the present one.
He had trained himself in his young manhood by an almost Spartan discipline for the hardships of life, and this, coupled with the companionship of his Saviour, enabled him to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." "This is the victory which overcometh the world;" - Faith such as Desmond's.


Friday, August 8, 1941 Page 4

The late Mr. Desmond Woodnutt
Memorial Service at Ventnor
A memorial service for the late Mr. Desmond Woodnutt, only son of the Rev. A.G. and Mrs. Woodnutt, of Thalassa, Gill's Cliff Road, Ventnor, who lost his life while serving with the Royal Engineers in the Middle East on June 9th last, was held at the High Street Methodist Church on Sunday morning. The service was most impressively conducted by the Rev. W. Sinclair Smith, H.C.F., in the presence of a large and sympathetic congregation.
Those present included the Rev. A.G. Woodnutt; Mr. and Mrs. Winterbotham, Messrs. W. Crews and C. Dunford, representing the firm of Groves and Guttridge (Cowes), by whom the late Mr. Woodnutt was formerly employed; Mr. W.J. Hitchman (President, I.W. Sunday School Union, also representing Freshwater Methodist Church); Mr. and Mrs. Irvine Nicholas (the former as President of the I.W.C.E. Union and both close friends of the deceased); Mrs. B. Sprake, and other Methodist friends from Niton; and members of local churches and other churches in the East Wight Methodist Circuit. Mr. Alfred Burnett (organist) gave feeling renderings of "O Rest in the Lord," and "I know that my Redeemer liveth," and the choir sang Bunyan's "Who would true valour see." The following favourite hymns of the late Mr. Woodnutt were sung: - "Awake, awake, to love and work," "My God, is any how so sweet," "All thing's bright and beautiful," "I bow in silence at Thy feet," and "For all the saints who from their labours rest."
At an appropriate interval Mr. Smith said: - We remember, this day, very affectionately and with deep gratitude and thankfulness to God, Desmond Woodnutt. He was a resident of this town of Ventnor; also a loyal member, a chorister, and a devoted official of this Methodist Church at High Street. When War broke out, though a Pacifist at heart, he was quick to enlist. He served with the Forces in France, and was among those evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. It was with great sorrow that we heard that, while serving with the Royal Engineers in the Middle East, he was killed in action on June 9th, 1941.
We shall always remember him as a courageous man, cheerful, conscientious, with a whimsical smile and a sense of humour all his own. As he wandered over this Island home of ours, he manifested a deep love of nature. He was a lover of good literature - the stiffer the book, the better he liked it : a lover of children, and of his fellows : but he was first and foremost a lover of His Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Very fittingly did one write of him : "He walked with God : and he was not : for God took him."
Desmond Woodnutt's deep desire was to become a minister in the Church of his fathers. He belonged to a family with a long line of ministers. But in this desire he was foiled. Yet by his life, and his preaching, as a lay preacher, he sounded out the message. God had given him, knowing truly "The mighty ordination of the piercéd Hands." His soul had built her nest in the greatness and goodness of God.
His parents remain to mourn his passing, and would say, as Margaret Home said of her son in "The Bonnie Briar Bush" : "I had hoped that he would have been a Minister of Christ's Gospel here : but he will be judged over many cities yonder. I am not denying that it is a trial; : but I have light upon it, and nothing but kind thoughts of the Almighty."
Very tenderly we commend them to the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; and pray that He will guide and guard and sustain them till they come to the Home of this abiding, where they shall see His Face, and meet, once again, him whom they have loved and lost for the little while between.


Friday, September 26, 1941 Page 3

The Late Mr. D. Woodnutt
In a letter of sympathy to the Rev. A.G. and Mrs. Woodnutt with regard to their son Desmond, Lieut. R.B. Davidson writes : -
"'Flash' Woodnutt, as he was known to my troop, was one of the more intelligent type of soldier. He was the man who was called upon to do the difficult jobs, and it would be a task to find a more efficient pair of hands anywhere.
"He was killed in action with the Commando (11th Scottish); a true and ardent Christian. Given a decent burial, we left him there by a river in Syria; a true British soldier who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence of his country."

National Probate Calendar 1941

Further information :

No 11 (Scottish) Commando

The Battle of Litani River involved the Commando on 8th and 9th June 1941 in Syria - perhaps this was the action which involved Desmond Woodnutt

No 11 (Scottish) Commando (Modern day)

The Special Forces Roll of Honour lists him as KIA Litani River, Syria

Listed on Commando Veterans

4 pages of photos of 11 Commando, many of them unnamed

Acknowledgements :

Janet Griffin for newspaper research

Page status :

Page last updated : 8 August 2014 (added further newspaper reports and links)


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