1947 • Wood’s leg

Alan Wood, war correspondent for the Daily Express, c. 1944. (Imperial War Museum, London)

Al can no longer walk, or at least not easily and for miles and all day long. He has a false leg inside his ragged trousers, has Bill forgotten? Injured in the Rhine crossing, hurt not badly, just enough. These days Alan only visits scenic destinations in his car. [RED, page 274]

Alan Wood, war correspondent with London’s Daily Express, was trapped in September 1944 with the British First Airborne at the Battle of Arnhem, where he was one of a handful of journalists who were able to report the siege from “inside”. In March 1945 Alan was parachuted across the Rhine in Operation Varsity. He was injured. Later that year, part of his leg had to be amputated. 

The Arnhem siege was the subject of the film Theirs Is the Glory, in which many of the soldiers and two of the journalists (Wood and Stanley Maxted) played themselves, re-enacting most of the scenes in Arnhem itself. 

Alan Wood in two stills from the 1946 film Theirs Its the Glory.

Al talks of Attlee and the coming Welfare State. Says that he himself might throw up journalism to do something—something real (he adds, to Bill’s amusement), that leaves a footprint in the world—now that a Labour government might allow, might make the necessary room for it. Al might go and talk to Strachey. [RED, page 280]

The British Labour politician, John Strachey, as Minister of Food, helped establish a scheme to grow groundnuts (peanuts) in east Africa. Alan Wood was appointed an inspector and within a year he was “in East Africa visiting Kenya and Tanganyika [Tanzania]—Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam—and inspecting the groundnut plantations.” (Madeline to Fred Wood, 4 July 1948) Wood wrote an account of this venture which, he argues, was a disaster.

Alan Wood, from the jacket of his book The Groundnut Affair, Bodley Head, 1950.

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