The Krays on The Hamble Peninsula


The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Hampshire

Royal_Victoria_Military_Hospital,_Netley,_Hampshire;_from_th_Wellcome_V0013983The Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley Abbey is due to undergo a £2.68M restoration of its historic buildings, via the Heritage Lottery Fund, secured by Hampshire County Council.  As part of this the human side of its history is being brought together from memories of the site from locals with family or other links to the site.  In charge of this is Paul Del-A-More, a Hamble local who is Project Manager for the venture.  Paul’s Blog can be seen here:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/countryside/countryside-service/country-parks/rvcp/rvcp-improvements.htm

Being based in the area Timedetectives decided to do some digging of our own, and came up with some interesting connections to the area via the Family History of the Kray Twins.

The Royal Victoria Hospital was a personal project of Queen Victoria, and when built was the largest Hospital in the world.  It served the British armed forces from the time of the Crimean War, through the 19th century and on into the First and Second World Wars, until the demolition of most of the buildings in 1966 during the Philistine demolition boom that destroyed so much British History in the 1960s.

During its time, from the aftermath of the Crimean War to WW2 the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley served generations of soldiers from all over the United Kingdom, its Colonies, and allies.  To understand how such a place could have an effect on generations of British Families I have taken an example of the Kray Twins Family as an extension to other Kray stories in this Blog.

The Kray Twins are of course synonymous with East End Gangsters, but the twins had an enduring connection with this area of Hampshire spreading from Southampton in the West, through Netley and the Hamble Peninsula, out to Waterlooville in the East, even ignoring Reggie Kray’s time in Prison on the Isle of Wight.

The First Kray in Netley Hospital

John William Kray, the Kray twins Great Grandfather’s brother, had left his job hammering rivets all day, to take up a life in the army at 18 years of age and in 1870 when he had joined the 65th Regiment of foot.  His career in the army was a fractious one, with constant bouts of indiscipline and sickness. He came to be in Netley Hospital whilst stationed in England as veteran soldier with seven years under his belt.  He was admitted on 30th April 1877, for a mystery illness, and the doctors scratched their heads whilst John Kray the brawny ex-riveter spent a lovely couple of weeks of bed rest and recuperation chatting to the nurses in the grounds of the large beautiful Hospital bordering the Solent.  Eventually  the Doctors after scratching their heads and listening to his diverse description of his ailments, decided that despite his protests of illness, there was nothing actually wrong with him other than a likely case of malingering by an experienced old lag of a Private.Netley-Pier-01_800

Having failed to prove himself sick, he deserted for six months in 1879, then voluntarily re-joined in the same year having got bored with being on the run.  On his return he was sentenced to a month’s hard labour and stoppages of wages.  Shortly after this the Army decided that he would be better off out of harms way in the Far East, where he spent the next fourteen years serving in the East Indies; India, Aden, and the Soudan (sic).  Having failed to get sick whilst at Netley, John Kray surpassed himself in India where he managed to get six year’s worth of diarrhoea, Malaria, Dysentery, Gonorrhoea, and Syphilis, despite this he continued serving, given his particular ailments he obviously made the most of his time in the tropics.  He no doubt longed to be back in Netley enjoying the sea breezes off the Solent.

In 1884 the regiment was sent to the Sudan to fight the ISIS of their day, The Mahdists, led by the man from whom they derived their name, the “Mahdi” or the “Mad Mullah” as he was nicknamed by the British Troops.  The Mahdi was , who had killed British General Gordon and overrun an Anglo-Egyptian outpost at Khartoum in the Sudan.  John Kray would see some real action in the Sudan for the first time in his military career.  John’s regiment engaged with the Mahdist Army after the Mahdists had destroyed an Egyptian force sent against them, and had captured the Egyptians’ modern British manufactured  firearms in the process, so posed an even greater threat to the British Protectorate.  1884eltebred

The Mahdists had a defended position at El Teb but were overrun by British forces with light casualties (John’s regiment only receiving seven casualties) but killing two thousand Mahdists in the process.  The Mahdists were later re-engaged by John’s regiment at the battle of Tomai where for a loss of just over two hundred the British killed four thousand Mahdists.  1884tamai2red

After the actions in the Sudan John Kray’s regiment is sent home, and in 1889, after nearly twenty years in the Army John went  back to civvie street, where he married, and settled down in Leeds where he worked as a commissionaire.  The only member of the family at this time to move away from the London area.  He would die in Leeds in 1906.

No doubt when John Kray reminisced to the rest of the Kray clan about his adventures in the Army, he would have told stories of his best remembered time during a balmy English Summer malingering in the grounds of Netley Hospital; his two weeks of contented holiday on the Banks of the Solent.

The last Kray at Netley Hospital

Clement Henry Kray, a second cousin of the Kray twins, also ended up in The Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley.  The circumstances of him arriving there were very different from those of his malingering distant cousin John who we heard about above.

While the Kray Twins line of the family had been Lamp Lighters, Clement’s line of the family via his Grandfather had pulled themselves up by the boot straps to open a small tobacconist shop in Bethnal Green, and Clement’s Father, Henry Joseph, had managed to get an education and move into lithographic printing, eventually opening a small printing business for himself.

in 1900 Henry had volunteered for the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), not actually as implied by its name an artillery unit, but a mixed unit of Infantry and supporting artillery, drawn from Londoners from the area of the City of London, and the oldest volunteer Regiment in the British Army.

Clement Kray, Henry’s eldest son, had been doing well for himself before the War, he was a young commercial traveller from Harlesdon, and no doubt enjoyed life and expected great things to develop, as the Country moved from Victorian seriousness and poverty for the working classes, into a time of opportunity and a developing Middle Class in the Edwardian era.  In 1910 he followed his Father as a part time volunteer soldier in the HAC, so had a good career, some status in a well respected volunteer force, and a bright future.  But the Great War would change all of that.

Clement was shipped over to the French/Belgian border to fight the Germans in 1914.  The HAC took part in the Battle of Ypres, and Clement’s unit was dug in around Kemmel, the highest point on the battlefield, which of course put them up as a prime target for the Germans.  The Kray Twins’ Grandfather “Mad’ Jimmy Kray was in France in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) another London regiment, at the same time as Clement, and no doubt heard about the action at Kemmel where his second cousin Clement was fighting.

hackemmelThe HAC were soon heavily engaged during the bitter winter of 1914.  On 15th December 1914 the HAC went over the top and charged the German lines after an artillery bombardment, having to run uphill many of the HAC had been cut down by the Germans on the way in.  Despite this they had overrun the German positions and had taken a terrible revenge on the Germans who had surrendered, shooting many of them out of hand in revenge for their fallen comrades. By their own admission many of the men had a blood lust brought on by battle, and such incidences of brutality outside the rules of war were far from uncommon amongst the hard-bitten British professional soldiers, for example in the same battle 300 German prisoners were reported slaughtered after  surrender by the Royal Scots.  Clement was one of the unlucky HAC soldiers who was wounded in the Battle.  The wounds were far too serious to be treated in the field, or even further back from the battle front, bad enough in fact for Clement to be shipped back to England.

Clement was shipped back to Blighty on a hospital steamer, unloaded onto one of the specilaised Hospital Trains at Southampton Docks, which steamed the few miles down the coast to Netley, where he was taken into the care of the volunteer nurses at the Royal Victoria._wsb_360x203_brcsnetley

Netley, after much criticism, had been added to with a large number of huts to accommodate patients in better conditions than were previously available in the wards, and was visited by Sir Frederick Treves in November, just a month before Clement Kray was shipped across from from to it.  Treves was famous as the rescuer of Joseph Merrick (sometimes mistakenly called John Merrick) better known as The Elephant Man.  Treves was now very senior in the Medical Profession, looking after the Royal Family, and had also served in a field hospital in the Boer War, so was keen to make sure that facilities were as good as they could be for wounded soldiers in the Great War.  In his report he describes The Royal Victoria Hospital as:

“It is a ‘Hut Hospital’ of 500 beds, essentially a Field Hospital capable of being readily moved. When completed at the end of the present month, it will be made up of 45 Huts disposed as follows:- 25 for patients, 9 for nurses, 5 for orderlies, 3 as recreation rooms, and 3 for isolation wards.
At present only 25 Huts are occupied, 10 of these being Ward Huts. The Operating Theatre is not yet completed. The staff under Sir Warren Crooke-Lawless consists of 18 medical officers, 65 female nurses, all fully trained, a matron, 20 quartermasters, and 130 N.C.O.’s and men. The Hospital is rationed from Netley. The wounded are brought into Netley by a special ambulance train, thence they are transported by stretcher to the Hospital, a distance covered in some four or five minutes.

The number of patients in the Hospital is at the moment 140; 80 being British soldiers and 60 belonging to Indian troops. In another week the Hospital will be able to accommodate 300 patients. As an illustration of efficient transport it may be said that a large batch of patients now in the wards were wounded on a certain Friday and were in bed at Netley on the following Monday. There has happily been only one death at the Hospital, that of a soldier with a desperate shell wound of the skull exposing the brain. The first major operation performed in the Hospital was not upon a soldier, but upon one of the Hospital orderlies, who was seized with appendicitis and is now a cheery convalescent in his own ward. The cases are practically all gunshot wounds. There has been no tetanus and little gangrene. No cases of typhoid fever have been received. The medical cases have been light, although among them are six cases of Beri-beri.

The Hospital has the general appearance of a toy town made up of grey Huts arranged, with great formality, in a meadow behind Netley. The Huts are the best of the type I have seen. They are light, airy and well ventilated. They are lit by electric light, are warmed by slow-combustion stoves (two to each Hut) and are amply supplied with water. The sanitary arrangements are quite admirable, the many difficulties that presented themselves having been surmounted with complete success. Each Hut contains 20 beds and has a well-arranged annexe. The furniture, beds, bedding and general equipment of the Huts leave nothing to be desired. The Hospital kit, issued to each man by Lady Wolverton is excellent and – if I may venture to say so – is better than that supplied by the Army. It consists of a blue jacket and trousers, both lined with flannel, a vest, shirt, night dress, towel, handkerchief and slippers.

The Red Cross store, managed by Lady Lawless and Mrs. Miller, is a model of efficiency and order. The new Operating Theatre, built under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert Wallace, is admirably arranged and will soon be completed. The nurses’ huts, with 9 cubicles in each, are very comfortable. The kitchen is furnished with every requirement for a hospital of 500 beds, and the sergeant cook is very proud of it. He exhibited a roast fowl and a bowl of beef tea with the confidence of an artist who was displaying finished works of art.

The Medical Officers, under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert Wallace and Dr. Miller, are doing excellent work, and these gentlemen speak in the highest terms of their efficiency. The matron pays a compliment to the Society in its selection of nurses by her assertion that her staff gives the greatest satisfaction and there is not a single nurse she would wish to change. The orderlies are men drawn from various Voluntary Aid Detachments throughout the country. It will be of interest to the Society to know that Sir Warren is not only entirely satisfied with these men and their exemplary behaviour, but also – although the staff is so large – that he has not had occasion to make a complaint of any one of them.

A whole-hearted enthusiasm and a determination to do their best pervade the entire staff of the Hospital from the highest to the humblest. This excellent spirit derives its inspiration partly from the fine example set by Colonel Crooke-Lawless himself and partly from the fact that everyone at work in Netley is proud of the Hospital he serves. In that pride the Society may well participate.”

CHkrayheadstone

Clement spent Christmas 1914/15 and New Year in Netley, but sadly died of his wounds on 22nd January 1915.

Clement’s Father had already lost his youngest son Frederick earlier that year, and had the sad task of having Clement’s body shipped back to London by Trainhis Mother and Father buried him at New Southgate Cemetery Enfield, with the following epitaph:

Clement Henry Kray

1st. Battalion Honourable Artillery Company who fell in the Great War.  Wounded at Kemmel, nr. Ypres, 15th. Dec. 1914, Died at Netley Hospital, 22nd. Jan. 1915, aged 22 years

“Duty bravely done is the rising of the Sun of glory”

 

The Twins

During the Second World War when Reggie and Ronnie Kray were children, their mother took therm away from the Blitz in London to the relative safety of Hampshire, it is not clear where exactly, but the episode did not end well, as the twins’ unruly behavior proved too much for the kindly Doctor who had agreed to take the family in, and very soon they were back to Lopndon, andn then evacuated again to Suffolk, where they saw out much of the War.

This time in the country made a big impression on the twins, although they were Cockney born and bred and the family had been since the 1700s, they had an abiding love of the country, and when things got a bit too intense in the East End, thye twins would come down to Hampshire for a little holiday, here Ronnie coulkd play Lord of the Manor with his silver topped cane and tweeds, while he and his brother Reggie would drink in their favourite Pub outside of London, The Bugle Pub near the waterfront in Hamble.

So taken were the twins with Hamble, that they bought a small house in the village, Hamble Manor Lodge, right next door to Hamble Manor.  The twins didn’t just take it easy while in Hamble, they are rumoured to have had various dealings with the local underworld in nearby Southampton, where the docks were rife with money making opportunities, and there are even stories of a motor launch that was owned by the Twins being abandoned at Southampton Docks when they were finally banged up for murder.  Maybe it was just a pleasure cruiser, or maybe it was used for other purposes?  “Mad Axeman” Frank Mitchell was said to have been wrapped in Chicken wire, weighted down, and dropped in the Sea after he was murdered by the Kray’s associates.

There are also stories of a collection from a Bank Manager in Waterlooville of £85,000 that was taken to Ronnie Kray while he was in Prison.  Maybe there are still some mysteries to be uncovered?

If you’d like to see the Time Detectives interview with Fred Dinenage on ITVMeridian you can find it here   The Kray Twins on The Hamble Peninsula

…and if you have your own Family Stories about servicemen who spent time in The Royal Victoria Hospital Netley in Hampshire let me know and I’ll pass them on in time for its historic restoration.  Please feel free to leave a comment on this page.

If you’d like your own Family History professionally researched, please contact me on paulmcneil@timedetectives.co.uk

 

 

The Water Diviner in Reality, Australian Brothers in Arms, Gallipoli and a Father’s search


 I went to see the latest Russell Crowe film, The Water Diviner recently, and was impressed by the depth of feeling and unbiased treatment he gave to the subject matter of the Gallipoli Campaign.  It reminded me of a true life parallel story of a family who’s family tree I traced and the stories I turned up, so to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign of The First World War, I though I’d share part of that story with my readers, as poignant as anything on film.

An Australian Soldier’s English Roots – The Goddings

The Godding Family From England to Australia

The research of the name Godding showed that it is derived from an Old English name “Goding” meaning Goda’s child.   The original “Goding” spelling of the name coincides with the early family distribution around the Gloucestershire/Somerset borders, deep in the rural English Countryside.

During the 18th century the age of enclosures came about.  In order to meet the higher demand for grain crops the big landowners would seek permissions from Parliament to carry out “Enclosures”, not just the taking of uncultivated waste land, but also land that was communally farmed by the agricultural population, each peasant farmer would have a cow or a pig, or raise vegetable crops on this communal land.   The enclosures meant that the Goddings who previously had rights to this land, lost those rights, and with them, the means to make an independent living from small holding, so, having robbed them of their livelihood, the Lord would take them on as paid labourers to work the land they previously had rights over, this, much more than the Industrial Revolution, turned the majority of the population into what they remain today; wage slaves working for another man’s profit.   The Lord would also decide what he would pay them.   If they didn’t like the wages, they could always decide not to work for the Lord, in which case they would loose their cottage, would have to leave the village to look for work elsewhere as they would not be entitled to poor relief from the Parish, or, of course they could choose to starve to death in a ditch.     The landowners had worked out how to control the Goddings and the rest of the local populations with wages and rents rather than through the sword and gibbet.   In the words of one MP who railed against the plight of the rural poor;

“The poor in these Parishes may say; Parliament may be tender of property; all I know is I had a cow, and an act of Parliament has taken it from me.”

So this is how William Godding came to be working for wages on local farms dependant on large tenant farmers and the Lord of the Manor, rather than owning a small holding of his own. However, quite suddenly in 1816 when William Godding was still a young man in his twenties, he takes the bold step of moving, not just from his home town of Thornbury, but out of the County of Gloucestershire to Keynsham in Somerset where he meets and marries a local girl named Isabella.   Such a move was a major decision for an unskilled Agricultural Labourer, so what could be the cause of it?

Trouble at Thornbury

The enclosure acts had caused resentment between the Lords who took the land and the Peasants who lost it.   But the lords had the law on their side and penalties could be harsh for Agricultural Labourers who weren’t prepared to bend the knee to the local Lord.

To take back some of their lost assets, and avoid malnutrition for their families, the local people would poach animals for the pot from the Lords’ lands, which was illegal and violently resented by the Gentry.   The penalties were drastic, one member of the Godding family being transported in a prison ship to Australia for such offences in 1810.

At Thornbury in 1815, a man called Thomas Till had been legally killed on the Estate of Lord Ducie by a Spring Gun, a firearm booby trap left in the woods by game keepers to maim and kill the local poachers.  Thomas Till had tripped one such weapon and been shot and killed by the device when out looking for a rabbit for the pot. This legally sanctioned killing heightened tensions between the common people and the Gentry in Thornbury which would eventually spill over into confrontation.

On a cold and frosty moonlit night on 18th January 1816 a group of young labourers gathered at a house in Thornbury.  They had  blacked their faces with soot to aid camouflage and avoid recognition, and deliberately set out on an act of civil disobedience to poach on the lands of Colonel Berkeley at Berkeley Castle.   Undoubtedly this was a political move, rather than a pure poaching for the pot exercise, as the leaders of the participants were from middleclass backgrounds, indeed one of the organisers was a lawyer, and guns had been provided, something no peasant would have owned.

However by the time they reached the Berkeley Estate word had leaked, and a party of ten heavily armed gamekeepers lay in ambush for them.   The poachers were challenged by the keepers, and realising that they had been betrayed, decided to make a fight of it.  A number of the poachers were soldiers recently returned from defeating Napoleon in France, and men family with cannon fire were not about to quail at the challenge from gamekeepers rifles and shot guns.  In military fashion hey formed up in a double line, advanced on the keepers and fired a volley; one keeper, William Ingram fell dead, and several other’s were wounded. After some confused hand to hand fighting and shooting in the darkness the poachers having made their point made good their escape.

Over the following weeks two of the group lost their nerve, gave themselves up and turned King’s Evidence in return for a dropping of charges, the less well off were apprehended over the following weeks, their fates were mixed; two were hanged for the murder of Ingram, nine were transported for life to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) and another eight (who had the money and connections to facilitate it) fled to America, Ireland, and the Caribbean. No doubt there were many other men involved in the fight that night, but none important enough to warrant a prolonged pursuit. William Godding fled the county as a result the Thornbury Poacher’s Battle.

We find William and Isabella in Keynsham with six of their children, five sons and a daughter.  Times were changing, the age of the landed gentry was coming to an end, and the age of the Industrialist was on the rise.  This presents opportunities for the Goddings,  William gives up work on the land in his fifties to work as a Labourer on the newly arrived Railway, his daughter Elizabeth finds work as a domestic servant at the tender age of fourteen with a Railway Contractor.  Times were hard, the children left home and William continues to work as a labourer into his eighties after the death of his wife Isabella.

Vines Godding and the move to Australia

Vines was the son of William and Isabella Godding born in Keynsham Somerset.  Vines, was often misspelled as “Fines” due to his West Country accent, and the name would stick.   Like his father and brothers he was a Labourer at a time in England when life was very tough for the working man and his family.   He had married Sophia Palmer in 1854, and by 1861 they were living in a working class area of Bristol with three children under of five years and under.

With little hope of bettering themselves at home in England, Vines and Sophia were “assisted” in their move to Australia i.e. the costs were covered by a local emigration scheme, as Parishes were eager to rid themselves of the needy poor, and the Colonies were crying out for cheap labour, over and above what would be provided by convicts.    So in 1862 they board the good ship the Lady Milton.   With Vines and Sophia were their daughters Elizabeth five and Emily three, plus their one year old son Charles. They must have been desperate, because Sophia was also pregnant when they undertook the trip, and gave birth during the voyage to Louisa. After their arrival in Australia times were still terribly hard for the family, disease was rife in the colony among the poor, and both Bessy and Louisa died in 1868, with Elizabeth following in 1888.   The rest of the children survived to adulthood. As for the parents, Sophia lived till 1896, and Vines till 1901.

Charles James Godding

One way to survive through hard times was offered by the Army, and with Imperial Wars to fight, the Australians were clamouring to form their own armed forces to support the Empire a full 30 years before World War 1.  Vines’ eldest son Charles James, joined the Army as a Gunner in the Artillery on 26th January 1881, he was listed as a Baptist, the first confirmation we have of the Godding family’s religious beliefs. By 3rd March 1885 he was shipped out to the Sudan during the war with the Mahdi, and General Gordan’s siege at Khartoum. The force left Sydney amid much fanfare, generated in part by the holiday declared to allow the public to bid farewell to the troops; the send-off was described as the most festive occasion in the colony’s history.1885australianforces2

The NSW contingent arrived and anchored at Sudan’s Red Sea port Suakin on 29th March 1885, and were attached to a brigade composed of Scots, Grenadier, and Coldstream Guards. Shortly after their arrival they marched as part of a large “square” formation – on this occasion made up of 10,000 men – for Tamai, a village some 30 kilometres inland. Although the march was marked only by minor skirmishing, the men saw something of the reality of war as they halted among the dead from a battle which had taken place eleven days before. Further minor skirmishing took place on the next day’s march, but the Australians, now at the rear of the square, sustained only three casualties, none fatal. The infantry reached Tamai, burned whatever huts were standing and returned to Suakin.

After Tamai, the NSW contingent worked on the railway line which was being laid across the desert to the Nile.  Far from the excitement they had imagined, the Australians suffered mostly from the enforced idleness of guard duties. When a camel corps was raised, fifty men volunteered immediately. On 6 May they rode on a reconnaissance to Takdul, 28 kilometres from Suakin, again hoping for an encounter with the Sudanese, but the only action that day involved two newspaper correspondents who had accompanied the patrol before leaving the cameleers to file their stories in Suakin. They soon found themselves surrounded by enemy forces, and one was wounded as they fled. The camel corps made only one more sortie – on 15 May, to bury the bodies of men killed in fighting the previous March.

The artillery saw even less action than the infantry. They were posted to Handoub where, having no enemy close enough to engage, they drilled for a month. On 15 May they rejoined the camp at Suakin. Not having participated in any battles, Australian casualties were few: those who died fell to disease rather than enemy action.   By May 1885 the British government had decided to abandon the campaign and left only a garrison in Suakin. The Australian contingent sailed for home on 17 May 1885 arriving in Sydney on 19 June. They were expecting to land at Port Jackson and were surprised to disembark at the quarantine station on North Head near Manly as a precaution against disease. One man died of typhoid before the contingent was released.1885australianforces

Five days after their arrival in Sydney the contingent, dressed in their khaki uniforms, marched through the city to a reception at Victoria Barracks where they stood in pouring rain as a number of public figures, including the Governor, the Premier, and Colonel Richardson the commandant of the contingent, gave speeches. It was generally agreed at the time that, no matter how small the military significance of the Australian contribution to the adventure, it was actually this little adventure, rather than the First World War that marked the development of colonial self-confidence and was proof of the enduring link with Britain.

The Grandsons of Vines Godding

The family having seen action in the Sudan, settled down to civilian life, until the next generation were called upon to serve the Empire in The Great War.

Clarence Sydney Godding 1898 – 1917

Clarence was working as a Farm hand on a Dairy Farm, before joining the 19th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1916 as a Private, and had been living with his parents.   On his shipping papers his religion is stated as C of E, but his brother was a Baptist, perhaps he didn’t consider it an important detail. In any case he was shipped out probably initially to Egypt where the Battalion was reorganised and new recruits were trained, before being shipped to France. The first major action for the Battalion was Pozieres, where the German shelling was the most intense ever experienced by the AIF during the war and was accompanied by nearly continuous German counter attacks to recover their vital ground.   In this battle 19th Battalion created a record by holding its sector for a period of 12 days. The most notable action that Clarence would have taken part in was the capture and defence of the notorious ‘Maze’ defence system at Flers on 14th November 1916. Clarence and his mates captured and held a salient deep within the German Lines, but their support battalions failed to reach their objectives on the flanks of the 19th, and so the 18 year old Clarence and his unit were cut off deep inside the German lines.

For two days and nights Clarence held his position against counter attacks and intense shelling, almost running out of ammunition Charles and his mates picked up the rifles and ammo of the Germans they had killed and used them, so that their own ammunition could be saved for their Lewis machine guns to stop the German Infantry counter attacks. Of the 451 all ranks who went into the attack, 381 became casualties.

Clarence survived, and his next big battle was at Lagincourt in 1917 where his battalion was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line.   The Germans counter attacked to try to halt their pursuit by the Australians, and Clarence was faced with an attack by a German force that outnumbered them five to one, they made their stand at Lagincourt and managed to defeat the German advance.

On the 3rd of May 1917 Clarence and his friends were thrown into “The Blood Tub” as the second battle of Bullecourt would be called by the Aussies.   General Gough had sent his troops to assault the fortress village of Bullecourt using the new wonder ‘tank’ and the Anzacs, it ended in disaster.   This was the first battle of Bullecourt, on the 3rd of May Gough launched a second attack on Bullecourt which dominated the British action on the Western Front for two weeks, and was the battle that Clarence fought in.     It was the excessive brutality and ferocity of the hand-to-hand fighting that earned Bullecourt the name ‘The Blood Tub’.

At a quarter to four in the morning of 3rd of May 1917 two Australian and one British Brigade went over the top to attack Bullecourt.   The Australians penetrated the German line but met determined opposition which stop the force surrounding and cutting off the Germans.   It was during this fighting on the first day of the battle in fierce hand to hand combat in the German trenches that Clarence, at the tender age of nineteen was killed.   By the end of the battle the village was held by the Allies; the locality turned out to be of little or no strategic importance, and cost the Australians 7,482 in dead and wounded.

Charles James Godding, Clarence’s Father, made an application to have his son’s name added to the memorial and list on the Roll of Honour.   It is a very sad document filled out by a proud but grieving father, the careful but inexpert nature of the writing in a time of grief, contrasts starkly with the bureaucratic and clinical nature of the form; it highlights the gulf in attitude between a statistic and a young man’s life.clarencegoddingrequestrollofhonour

Sadly Clarence’s body was never found, he did not return from the battle, and he was not taken prisoner, so it was beyond doubt that he was killed in action alongside hundreds of others from his Battalion, and by July 1918 his status was changed from missing to killed in action.   To the credit of the Australian authorities, they were still investigating right up till October 1919, when they checked to see if he was among Australian prisoners of war released in Germany at the end of the war, but there was no trace of him.   All of this was recorded in the archives that we researched.

Although it is not known what happened to his body, he is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France.

Fines Henry Godding 1896 – 1918

Gallipoli

Fines had worked as a labourer until on 26th February 1915, aged 19, Fines joined the Australian Imperial Force as a Private in the Infantry. He shipped out with the 17th Battalion on the troop ship Themistocles in May 1915. He trained in Egypt from June until mid-August 1915, and on 20 August landed at ANZAC Cove Gallipoli

At Gallipoli Fines fought in the last action of the August Offensive; the attack on Hill 60, it started badly, at the last minute the expected allied artillery bombardment was diverted from Hill 60 to supported the actions at Suvla Bay instead, so the attacking ANZAC and allied troops advanced straight into the ready and waiting Turkish gunfire.  Despite this a number of Turkish units abandoned their positions and retreated back to the rear trenches, allowing New Zealand contingents to overrun the forward Turkish positions.  This left the New Zealanders exposed ahead of other allied units until the Connaught Rangers, said to be “…mad with the lust for battle” stormed past the Turkish first line of trenches on the New Zealanders’ left flank sending the Turkish defenders running back to rear trenches, the Connaughts were eventually stopped by Turkish machine gun and artillery fire, this pushed them back to the Turkish trenches they had just cleared, where they were eventually relieved by the Gurkhas.  On the right flank the Australians and the Hampshire regiment were in support, but were hit with accurate artillery fire on the ground they had to cross, made worse by a shell setting the scrub on fire which burned many of the wounded to death.

The next day newly arrived Australian reinforcements, including Fines Godding, inexperienced but fresh and ready for the fight, attacked the Turkish positions with fixed bayonets, and lost over half their entire strength in one dawn attack. A dreadful introduction to modern warfare.

The allies never captured the entire hill, and all positions were constantly counter attacked by the Turks, who maintained their hold on the heights above Suvla Bay.  Both sides undermined each other’s positions and exploded mines under them, but it was a stalemate.

Fines Battalion was eventually withdrawn from Hill 60 to spent his time in defensive routine in the trenches. Then he found himself as part of the garrison of Quinn’s Post, one of the most contested positions along the entire ANZAC front.  It was named after Major Hugh Quinn, the 27-year old commander of C Company, 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. Quinn was killed on 29 May whilst reconnoitring for an attack to recapture trenches seized by the Turks earlier in the day.  It was held by Fines’s unit until the evacuation of the Australians from Gallipoli. Fighting was intense, with heavy casualties on both sides, as it was a key position at the end of the Anzac line. It was overlooked by Turkish positions on three sides, and subjected to incessant sniper activity, and to grenade bombardment from Turkish positions only 15 metres away. The Turkish name for the position was Bomba Sirt (bomb ridge).  Wire nets were erected in front of the trenches to stop grenades. In his official history, the Australian historian, Charles Bean described the holding of the post as amongst the finest achievements of the Australian force.  Fines was eventually evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915.

France

After further training in Egypt, Fines  was sent to France, landing on 22 March 1916.   He took part in his first major battle at Pozières between 25 July and 5 August.   After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, he was sent back into France again in October, where he spent the freezing winter of 1916-17 rotating in and out of trenches in the Somme Valley but was spared from attacking across the quagmire the Somme.   It was during this winter that his battalion earned the nickname “the Whale Oil Guards” after their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Croshaw, ordered the troops to polish their helmets with the whale oil that had been issued to them as a foot rub to prevent Trench Foot. Trench Foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp and cold, it can occur with only twelve hours of exposure, the first signs are numbness in the feet followed by a change in color to red or blue. As the condition worsens, the feet swell, followed by blisters open sores which lead to fungal infections. If not treated it results in gangrene and requires amputation of the foot. Unfortunately for Fines, Croshaw considered a smart turn out on parade more important than his mens’ health.   They were Lions led by Donkeys.

In 1917 Fines took part in the pursuit of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and fought in the battle of Lagincourt where a counter stroke by a German force, almost four times as strong, was defeated. Fate then bequeathed that he would fight in the blood bowl at the second battle of Bullecourt (3-4 May), he would have known that Clarence his brother was fighting in the same battle, and no doubt would have had that on his mind during the action.   At the end of the Battle, he heard that his brother was missing, and tried desperately to find out what had happened to him sending letters to the authorities to try to find out as the excerpt below shows.

“…his name was in the list of missing last evening, and now it has upset me a great deal.   I don’t know how my parents at home will take it when they hear the news, it will be a great blow to them, but still we must of hope for the best.   I am giving you his address and if you hear anything different please communicate with me as soon as possible.”

This letter was written from Perham Down, Andover, which was a Convalescent Depot. These were half way houses for casualties returning to the front – men who no longer required hospitalisation but were not yet fit to rejoin their units. Fines had also been wounded at Bullecourt, seriously enough to have been shipped back to England for treatment. At the end of his treatment in July 1917 he wrote another letter to make sure the Department of Wounded and Missing Soldiers would know where to contact him should they get news, as he had been temporarily moved out of the front lines. On the 3rd of September he was still trying to find out the fate of his brother, writing again to the authorities on his return to his battalion. Not knowing his brother’s fate he was shipped back to Belgium, where he fought at the battles of the Menin Road 20th – 22nd September, and Poelcappelle 9th – 10th October. In October his father wrote to the authorities about his missing son Clarence, but also mentioned poignant words about Fines, pleading with the authorities to let his shell shocked son come home, we discovered these heart rending letters in the archives:finesletter

The father didn’t get his wish, instead, Fines was shipped out for another winter of trench duty. Fines then took part in the stopping of the German Spring Offensive of 1918. With this last desperate offensive defeated, the Allied armies turned to the offensive.  But Fines found himself back in hospital in England. This time he had Trench Fever, a disease spread by body lice in the unhygenic environment of the trenches. Fines was treated in the hospial for just over three weeks, then given two weeks furlough before being shipped back to the front line.

Once back in the lines, Fines received the official letter from the authorities concerning his brother, his worst fears were realised. We can only guess at the pain he carried in his heart as he fought in the battles that pushed the German Army ever closer to defeat: Amiens on 8 August, the legendary attack on Mont St Quentin on 31st August. Then came the last major battle fought by his Battalion which started on 29th September 1918. Two Australian Divisions in co-operation with American forces, attacked the formidable German defences along the St Quentin Canal, and on to the Hindenburg Line.

Unlike his brother Clarence, Fines fate was well documented by his comrades, and we were able to discover in our research many testimonials from them describing what they saw:   Private Quantrill went over the top with him at 06.10 on the morning of 30th September 1918 and saw him fall; Sergeant Callaghan saw him lying dead in a trench with machine gun wounds; Private Simmons wrapped his body for burial and noted that he had been hit in the neck and head by machine gun bullets;

simmonsletterPrivate Green carried his body back for burial after Simmons had wrapped it; and Sergeant Wilkinson oversaw Fines’s burial at Tincourt Cemetary. The actions of his friends who had cared for him and provided some dignity after death must have given some comfort to his grieving parents.  His friends refer to him by his nickname as Merry Godding because of his happy disposition. He was 21 years old Turkey and Flanders in some of the bloodiest battles of WW1, but despite all of this he still managed to lift the spirits of his comrades.   What greater praise could a man be given?

James Keith Godding 1905 – 1943

A sad postscript to this part of the Family’s story is for the youngest brother, James Keith Godding who survived the First World War because he was too young to join up.  But when World War Two broke out he followed the path of his elder brothers and father, and volunteered for the Australian Army, like his father joining the artillery, after a brief initial spell in the infantry.  Tragically he died of Tuberculosis whilst in the Artillery and still in Australia.

Let’s end on a Happier Note

Roy William Godding

Was born in Newton NSW Australia, the son of Thomas Sydney Godding, and the grandson of Vines Godding.  He was a sheep shearer by occupation, and was working in Queensland when he joined the Australian Imperial Force.  He was 5ft 8ins tall had dark hair a dark complexion, no doubt tanned from his work shearing in the tropics, and had grey eyes.  He had a 34 inch Chest and weighed just over 11 stone, so he was quite heavy for his height, but wasn’t particularly broad in the chest.

He was shipped out as a member of the 15th Infantry Battalion on HMAT Wandilla on 31st January 1916 from Brisbane, and he joined the regiment in Egypt where it had been sent after leaving Gallipoli, so Roy just missed engaging there. Roy proved to be a bit of a tearaway, finding himself in hospital on two separate occasions both for treatment for the results of some leisure activities in Cairo, and he subsequently turns up in Rollestone, Wiltshire, UK in September 1916, where he goes AWL (Absent Without Leave), and is given 16 days confinement to Camp, and lost 16 days pay.

Interestingly the following letter written by the Canon of his parents’ church enquires about Roy as being wounded.  His battalion had been in France and had fought in the battle of Pozières in August 1916, so he was wounded and shipped back to England.roygoddinletter

 

By November 1916 he is shipped back to France, and must have started showing his worth as by April 1917 he is promoted to Lance Corporal. This probably happened at the first Battle of Bullecourt, the prelude to the Battle which his cousins fought in. Roy’s battalion suffered heavy losses at Bullecourt when the brigade attacked strong German positions without the promised tank support. During July Roy spent another three weeks in hospital, probably through wounds, It spent much of the remainder of 1917 in Belgium, advancing to the Hindenburg Line, where again he no doubt proved himself being promoted to Corporal and then to Sergeant.

His greatest moment came in September 1917 in the battle of Polygon Wood, in the larger battle of Passchendale.  The attack on Polygon Wood was the 5th Division’s first major battle since it was savaged at the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July 1916 (although parts of the Division had been present at Bullecourt in April 1917). It would attack with the Australian 4th Division on its left and five British Divisions also taking part.

The troops advanced in the early hours of September 26, close behind a creeping artillery barrage. The barrage was, in the words of C. E. W. Bean, Australia’s Official War Historian, “the most perfect that ever protected Australian troops”. Under the protection of this barrage, the Australians advanced in several stages. The concrete pillboxes were manned by German machine gun teams who resisted fiercely and almost all had to be captured by acts of individual bravery. The Australians captured the pillboxes in what later became the classic style: a Lewis gun would fire on the pillbox, supported by fire from rifle grenades, while an assault team would manoeuvre around to the back of the pillbox, rather than attacking it head on. The technique worked effectively in most cases, but attacking pillboxes was never an easy task and casualties were seldom small.

It was during this engagement that Roy won The Military Medal.  The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British and Commonwealth Armies, below Officer rank, for bravery in battle on land. It was the other rank’s equivalent to the Military Cross. Recipients of the Military Medal were entitled to use the letters “MM” after their name.mmroygodding1

He returned to Australia in 1918, and was demobilised in 1919.

 

The Family History of The Kray Twins Part 6: Continued Decline


After John died Elizabeth continued to bring in money for the family by dressing the hair of horses, a strange occupation by today’s standards, but highly in demand an age when horses were everywhere as the only form of transportation.  brewery dray horses were especially well-groomed as a walking advert for the breweries they served, and it seems likely that Elizabeth groomed them, as she ends up living with Joseph Brown a Brewer’s Labourer from Mile End, they settle down together in Henrietta Street Bethnal Green, with the younger Krays who take the Brown surname, as well as her son Frederick Kray, who is an adult and retains the Kray name.  Her daughter Esther follows her mother into the Horse Hair Dressing trade.  But once again Elizabeth is dogged by tragedy as her husband Joseph Brown dies in 1895, and she ends up in Bethnal House, a lunatic asylum from 1901 and she sees out her days there.  Was there a hint here of the psychological strain in the Family that would manifest itself in future generations?

The older children had gone their separate ways years before their father’s death.  John William had left his job, hammering rivets, for the army life at 18 and in 1870 had joined the 65th Regiment of foot, where he spent the next fourteen years serving in the East Indies, India and Aden, and the Soudan (sic).  John was shipped out to India after basic training, where he managed to get six year’s worth of diarrhoea, Malaria and Dysentery.  He deserted for six months in 1879, then voluntarily rejoined in the same year, he was sentenced to a month’s hard labour and stoppages of wages. In 1882 the regiment was on its way home when it was diverted to the Sudan to help fight the Mahdists who were staging a revolt against the Anglo-Egyptian Government of the area.  Here John would see some real action; his regiment being sent to engage with the Mahdists who had previously destroyed an Egyptian force sent against them, and had captured the Egyptian’s modern guns in the process.  1884eltebred

They met the Mahdists at their defended position at El Teb where they overran the position with light casualties, but killed two thousand Mahdists in the process.  The Mahdists were later re-engaged by John’s regiment at the battle of Tomai where for a loss of just over two hundred the British killed four thousand Mahdists.  1884tamai2red

After the actions in the Sudan the regiment is sent home, and in 1889, after nearly twenty years in the Army he goes back to civvie street, where he marries, and settles down in Leeds where he worked as a commissionaire.  The only member of the family at this time to move away from the area of London.  he died in Leeds in 1906.

Frederick, after the death of his step father Joseph Brewer, carried on for the rest of his life making shoes and boots, staying until the first world war in the east London area, then moving a little further out to Hampstead where he died in 1941.

James Kray was already an adult in his twenties when his father died, had moved out of the family home some time before and was working as a cork cutter, a semi-skilled profession that was required for corks for bottles and jars, and the shoemaking and cigarette trades, providing soles for shoes and tips for cigarettes, both of which trades his family were already involved in, his uncle James running a tobacconist and his brother Fred making shoes.

In 1884 James marries Jane Sarah Wild in Bethnal Green, they would only have two children James William and Betsy Florence.  The marrage may have been a rushed, as James William is born just three months after the wedding.  The family lived in the Bethnal Green and Shoreditch areas of East London, and this would be the generation that moved into Gorsuch street, Shoreditch, that would provide a haven for them for many years to come.  During this time the family, like all Eastenders, lived in the shadow of the Ripper.  Jack The Ripper killed five prostitutes between August and November 1888, the reality of a few months breeding a myth that has lasted across three centuries.  many other murders were attributed to the Ripper, but only five really are attributable to him.  The horror and worry caused by these murders, whipped up by the press was out of proportion to the reality of the Eastend, where similar, if less flamboyant, sadistic murders were happening constantly, mainly in a domestic setting, or associated with gangs and pimps extorting money from prostitutes and carrying out sadistic punishments when the money wasn’t forthcoming.  But the Ripper murders caused panic and fear, and lead to a paranoia amongst the working classes of the Eastend that would no doubt have been shared by the Krays, making them territorial and very aggressive towards suspicious strangers and foreigners.

But whatever the paranoia of the times, James and his small family had stability, and this stability was reflected in James employment, as he remained in his role of a Cork Cutter for well over 30 years, moving from manual cutting to machine cutting at the turn of the twentieth century, before machines to automate the whole process came in with mass production after the first world war, so just as his father before him had gradually been pushed out of his Lamplighter’s role to become a Gas Fitter, so James was made redundant by mechanisation.  James story was more tragic however, as he falls far down the job scale ending his days as a stoker in the boiler room of the local hospital; back-breaking work for a man in his sixties, where he dies of Cancer at the age of 65.

Jamie Oliver and the Sudanese Slave Trade


Jamie Oliver’s Ancestors

Not Sudanese, but did help stop the Slave Trade in the Sudan

We first hear of the Olivers living in Madron, a village about 2 miles North West of the coast of Penzance, the Village grew up around a fresh water spring, which, during the time of these early generations of Olivers was the only source of fresh water for both Madron and Penzance, Penzance being at this time the port area for Madron. There are standing stones in the area which were claimed to be able to cure rickets if the afflicted were passed through them, this pagan legend also extended to the Well at Madron, and as with all pagan superstitions, this was taken over by the Dark Age Christians and turned into a Christian superstition attached to St Madern which gradually changed in pronunciation over time to St Madron.

When the Normans came, their local lord of the manor had the church built near the now “Holy” Well of St Madron, and gave it to the Knights Hospitaller in return for them praying for his soul. It is most likely that the spelling of the “Oliver” surname happened during this time and may have come from the English name Alward (pronounced Alvard), as represented in Alverton just a couple of miles from Madron, the French speaking Normans priests and overseers Normanising the local name of Alver to Oliver.

The Olivers would have seen both the growth of Penzance, and it’s ravages at the hands of the Barbary Corsairs raiding the coasts for slaves to sell in the markets of North Africa, followed by plague in the 1570s, and the Spanish who landed in 1595, ravaged the town, held a Holy Mass, and set off to sea again before local forces could muster to confront them. The town’s woes continued during the English Civil War in the 1640s when the Roundhead General Thomas Faifax ravaged the town as a punishment for its Royalist sympathies, and a group of Roundheads destroyed the small chapel at Madron as a pagan remnant, plague returned in 1647 raising the death rate by 10 times the normal.

By the time of the earliest recorded Olivers in the 1660s Madron had started to take second place to its port of Penzance which had steadily grown in importance. After the ravages of the 17th century, things improved during the 18th century, at least judging from the number of children born to Henry Oliver and Jane Vinicomb between 1735 and 1750, seven in total, but times could still be hard, with two sons died in infancy. The Penzance and Madron area boomed during these times thanks to the Tin mining and good corn harvests, and its export via Penzance along with barrels of local Pilchards. By the mid 1700s when the Oliver children were growing up a battery of guns were put in place to deter Spanish attacks, wealthy traders and landowners began building houses in Penzance and enough local taxes were raised to have the streets paved.

By the time that James Oliver had married Jane Hoskin and started to raise his family in Madron in the 1770s, Madron had dwindled to an outlying village supplying the town of Penzance. Penzance itself now boasted a cosmopolitan air that would have been unimaginable a few generations back, trade with the Mediterranean had brought a synagogue, along with a theatre, and assembly rooms used by the gentry for balls and gambling. The Olivers would have been outsiders to all of this, the nearest they came to it was through Edward Hoskin Oliver who worked in the Gentry’s fine gardens, seeing the preparations for balls, and gossiping with the other servants about the scandals of the moneyed classes. To help make ends meet for the family Edward would have grown vegetables on his own plot to sell to the grocers in Penzance.

Richard Hoskin Oliver married Clarinda Davies in February 1806 in Gulval, her home village a couple of miles North East of Madron, where two of their sons Richard Davies Oliver and John Oliver were born. In the late Regency and early Victorian era the gentry of Penzance had started to build houses on the outskirts of the town to avoid the hustle and bustle of the life of the ever growing port and the comings and goings of those taking advantage of the new craze of seaside holidays for the racier classes. Gulval grew around the Village Square, with new stone houses replacing the older wattle and daub cottages, with a pleasant view over Mounts Bay. Most of this granite housing speculation was carried out by the Bolitho Family who the Olivers may have worked for and definitely would have doffed their hats to as they passed them in the village. Meanwhile Penzance grew with Gas lighting in the streets, and houses there had piped water negating the need to travel to Madron to collect water from the ancient well. A newspaper and promenade were opened to service the growing population and the increasing numbers of well to do Regency holiday makers frequenting the area.

So the opportunities in Penzance for local people grew as well, and Richard Hoskin Oliver made sure that his children would not be tied to manual labour as he was; all three of his sons were schooled and could read and write, a rare accomplishment at this time. Richard finds work as a Grocer, possibly selling some of the produce of his father’s gardening work on the family plot, James becomes a Hatter, and John goes into tailoring. Indeed John makes such a good living that he takes a house with spare rooms to run as a lodging house, before using his commercial acumen to move more upmarket to run the Anchor Inn in Barbican Lane Penzance. But the family would not hold together for long, Clarinda died in 1832 at the age of 53, followed by Richard nine years later in 1841 at 66, and this matched the gradual decline of the family.

The eldest son Richard Davies Oliver married and left the Penzance area, drawn by the opening of the Hayle Railway in North Cornwall in the 1830s, this was built alongside the main London to Penzance Coaching Road, originally to help with the transport of the foundry and Copper products from the area, but gradually growing to include passenger traffic from London to Penzance. Seeing this boom, Richard cleverly set up as a Grocer at Hayle Foundry living among the blacksmiths and foundry workers in the town, selling them his produce. The Oliver brothers’ entrepreneurial skill did not stop with Richard, as James and his brother John lived together and worked together in business, John as a Tailor and James as a Hatter. Between them they would have managed to corner the small market for the gentry and other locals in Madron.

After the death of his parents and his elder brother Richard moving to Hayle, James continued to live with his brother John and family, but in the same year as his Father’s death 1841, James married a local girl, Lydia Gray, and soon after passenger services were opened on the Railway in 1843 at Hayle where his brother Richard lived, James took his part of the profits from the hat and clothing business and moves his young family in 1846 to try his luck in London; the Railway had cut the travel time from a week or more to a day or two. James’s move would cut the family off from Cornwall for the rest of their history; London would now be the focus of their future, for better or worse.

Their adventurous move took them to Lambeth on the Surrey bank of the Thames, living in Duke Street, a side street in the triangle formed by Blackfriars Road on the East, Waterloo Road on the West, and the Thames to the North. The population of Lambeth doubled between 1831 and 1861, sanitation was basic; toilets either being emptied by the Night Soil men from the backs of the buildings and shipped out to provide fertiliser for the fields of Essex, or seeped through the ground from dry privies into the the underground streams and creeks that riddled the former marsh that most of North Lambeth was built on, running down into the Thames. Drinking water came straight back out of the Thames to hand pumps in the courtyards and street corners of the working class neighbourhoods, leading to a major outbreak of Cholera killing thousands in 1848/9, the Olivers witnessed its effects, but fortunately for them they escaped the disease itself.

The crowding of the area was reflected in the Olivers’ accommodation, eleven people lived in the three story terraced house at no. 10 Duke Street. The Olivers took the top floor. The rest of the street were mainly Middlesex and Surrey Cockneys, and the Olivers would have stood out dramatically with their Cornish accents, although James’s Hatter’s trade, was on a par with his Warehouseman, and Foreman Labourer, and print worker neighbours. So their immediate surroundings were respectable working class, with a veneer of the elderly living on charity of one form or another. But further afield away from the quiet backstreets in the hustle and bustle of the Waterloo Road and especially around the New Cut market five minutes walk to the south of Duke Street that the complexion of the area changed. Working men toiled for a six day week being paid on Saturday and Lydia Oliver would have gone shopping on a Saturday evening when James would have brought his pay packet home. During the day the New Cut market had a tranquil air, but at dusk on a Saturday night, when the gaslights were being lit and the market was busiest, she would have felt far from the rustic gentility of seaside Penzance and quiet Madron and Gulval.

Out from the slums of the Blackfriars Road scampered the dark shadow of the “Street Arabs”, hoards of children aged from 6 to 10 years old, mainly boys, the children of Irish smallholders driven from their fields by the potato blight and the cruelty of their landlords, to congregate in London and survive at the bottom of the social heap, wracked with poverty, and subject to prejudice for their origins and Catholic religion, the adults must have despaired, while their Irish Cockney children knew no better and flourished, not just surviving but revelling in a culture of their own filling the social niche left by Dickens’ Artful Dodger and his friends a generation before. They congregated in noisy groups on the street corners, out for a laugh at others expense. Pushing in between the crowds of shoppers, music hall goers, loose women with wide hoped skirts ankles provocatively showing, the girls arm in arm with the local bully boys avoiding the “Coppers” on their rounds, the Street Arabs would split into small groups to look for their opportunities, avoiding the stalls of the heavy fisted Costermongers, preferring to raid the stalls managed by older women, grabbing handfuls of produce and running in all directions to the cries of “stop thief”. If this was more mischief than anything else, then there was also a harder more feral set of children who would push the old women over to snatch the meagre takings from their stalls before taking to their heels. This must have filled the Olivers with horror, especially young James Oliver, the same age as the street Arabs, possibly physically a bit bigger than them given his rural upbringing amongst the sea air and market gardens of Cornwall, but he was probably no match for them in terms of their aggression, he may have held close and tight to his mother’s skirts when the Arabs were on the prowl. But he was schooled, and had a chance of rising above them by education.

The Olivers had moved from Cornwall to improve their lot in London, but the streets of London were not paved with gold, James’ work as a Hatter kept a roof over the heads of the family, and they were getting by, although by the early 1860s their roof had moved further south in the Borough to another three story house at no. 9 Green Street, again taking the top floor of the building. They shared the house with a pair of market porters the Bailey brothers and their families. By now the Oliver’s teenage daughter Clarinda had left home, to go into Domestic Service, but the family now had the addition of three more sons, Richard, John, and Alfred at regular intervals between 1852 and 1856. The Oliver children now had six Bailey children to play with, all in all, between the Baileys and the Olivers, there were sixteen adults and children crammed into the three floors of 9 Green Street.

The family stayed together through much of the 1860s, although Clarinda never returned home, marrying Thomas Taylor a local locksmith in 1866, however the family were to face hardships, as James’s trade as a Hatter brought dangers of its own. The Hatters had earned a reputation, epitomised by Lewis Carol, as “Mad Hatters” this was a result of breathing in the poisonous vapours of the Mercury they worked with, the results of this mercury poisoning were a bright pink face and hands, peeling skin, nervous fidgeting, and extreme mood swings, the longer term symptoms were madness, and various heart and liver disorders often leading to death. By the yime safety legislation was brought in in 1864, James had been working in this poisonous environment for more than 30 years, and at the age of 58 in 1868 James died, and the family fell apart.

With the main wage earner gone, the Olivers are forced to give up their lodgings, James the eldest son got a job as a porter at the Guildhall Hotel (a large upmarket Pub) in Gresham Street in the City, where he now boarded, Clarinda was living with her husband, leaving the youngest boys, John and Alfred, and Richard, to be apprenticed by their mother to a Butcher. Lydia their mother takes work at the bottom of the social heap as a Charwoman, cleaning in the early hours of the morning for just enough money to survive on. She moves into a room of a house owned by an elderly widow in Prices Road Southwark, the premises rattled day and night by the trains travelling above their heads on the line to Charing Cross. She survives through to 1896, and ends her days at the mercy of the workhouse.

Things go downhill for the younger boys; it seems that life as Butcher’s apprentices prove to be less than pleasant, the Butcher would have had total control over the boys’ lives, they would have received bed and board, little if any spending money, and would have been expected to spend up to seven years in this servitude before having the opportunity to qualify as a Journeyman Butcher. Some Masters were good to their apprentices, some were very cruel, especially if the boys in question had no father to look out for them. It seems likely that the boys had a very hard time of it, so much so that Richard disappears, leaving no trace in any records, the youngest boy Alfred ends up in the local Workhouse before he also drops out of the records completely, whereas John shows some fighting spirit, runs away to Kent, where he seems to have got into some form of trouble as we next see him in St Augustine’s Prison Canterbury, at the tender age of fifteen. It is possible that he ends up in prison for either a petty crime, or vagrancy if he was “on the Tramp”.

Whatever the reasons for his brush with the law, John Oliver is rescued by his elder sister Clarinda, taking the boy in with her and her husband and putting him to school, although he still may have been a little uncontrollable as witnessed by the scar he bore on his right wrist which was remarked upon when she marched him by the scruff of his neck to the Naval Recruiting Office in Woolwich. As Clarinda was illiterate she called in help from John’s School Master, Mr Fowler, who acted as a professional witness to the relevant papers, signing him up to the Navy as a Boy 2nd class to be followed by ten years in the ranks. She swore that he had not spent time in a reformatory, which although technically true ignored the fact that he had been in Prison at Canterbury! She also swore that he was not apprenticed at the time, which given that he may have just run away from a Butcher’s shop was also a bending of the facts.

But the Navy life was obviously one that suited John, far from the trouble and bad influences of the Lambeth slums, he served his two years with good character, training on HMS Topaz and Boscawen, at Portland and along the South Coast. After a year of “Very Good” Service he rose from a Boy 2nd Class to a Boy 1st Class, and the combination of good diet, hard work, and sea air had seen John grow five inches in height from five foot two to five foot seven, a decent height for a working class boy in the 1870s. In 1872 he moved into the Navy proper as an Ordinary Seaman 2nd Class, spent eight months in Barracks qualifying as an Ordinary Seaman 1st Class, before getting his first posting aboard HMS Philomel on 22nd August 1873, and promptly set sail for Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The Philomel cruised the waters along the East African Coast, including the Sudan (which is probably where the family legend of a Sudanese ancestor may have come from) intercepting slaving ships at sea, armed sailors and marines overrunning them with boarding parties, arresting the crews, and freeing the slaves. It must have made a nineteen year old from Lambeth grow up very quickly.

Having seen the warlike tribes of the mainland and chased the slavers and Pirates off the coast, as well as getting to know the dubious pleasures of the coaling ports of British controlled East and South Africa. But his adventures weren’t over, in 1875 the British resident diplomat in Perak in Malaysia was ambushed while washing in a river and murdered. A force of colonial Police and Indian Sepoys were sent to capture the aggressors, but became badly mauled by the Malays and were forced to withdraw. In the 19th century Britain would not tolerate such an insult, and an expeditionary force was shipped in in 1876 and sent flying columns of soldiers and artillery after the rebels, backed up by amphibious assaults by Royal Marines and Sailors from the Philomel and other ships. Although outclassed by the British Military, the Malays mounted savage ambushes in the thickly forested Jungle terrain, and fought from heavily defended villages, killing a number of the British troops until overpowered, their warriors killed and their leaders captured and hanged. By 1877 the war was over. Quite an adventure for John Oliver.

After this John steamed back to England and spent his time between 1877 and 1879 on the Thames in Barracks at Woolwich and on HMS Fisgard a training ship on the Thames, his service at this time was described as Exemplary, but as he was a Seaman with experience at sea, he was too valuable to be left on the Thames, and by October 1879 he was sailing again for the South China Seas on board HMS Albatross.

We next find him in 1881 moored in the harbour of Yokohama in Japan, this was only thirty years after Japan had opened itself up to the rest of the world, and there was an intense interest in British Naval ships there, and John as an experienced Able Bodied Seaman would have been highly regarded in such a place. John spent more than three years aboard the Albatross patrolling the China Seas, before coming home again in 1883.

When he did return his high standing was reflected in the fact that he served out the rest of his days in the Navy aboard the Admiral’s Flagship, HMS Duke of Wellington at Portsmouth, so his days of action on the high seas were over, to be replaced with days of pomp and ceremony serving the Admiral and Commander in Chief at Portsmouth.

On leaving the Navy John took a wife, Alice Mary Coombes, a nursemaid from Clapham, thirteen years his junior. He also took on a new career, and was fortunate in that Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw was the Head of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and manned it exclusively with ex-Sailors, who he considered disciplined, strong, and hardy, and of course they could be called upon to man river borne Fire Engines on the Thames, an important part of the Brigade’s duties, without needing further training. John was lucky that he joined in 1888, as a year later Captain Shaw was relieved of his command when the London County Council was formed and their bureaucrats took the Brigade over, opening up its recruitment to anyone, not just ex-sailors. John served as a Fireman throughout the late 1880s and through the 1890s, but his fortunes were mixed, as he turns up in 1891 working a what appears to be a private Fireman looking after an unoccupied building for its owners, although he does go back to the regular fire service later in the 1890s. During this period of stability the family settles down to a quiet and regular existence in Gloucester Road, near the Surrey Canal in North Camberwell, or Peckham as it is better known, in fairly comfortable two story home. Their neighbours were also respectable working class no one was well off, but all of them were keeping their heads above water, if anything the area could be described as quiet and slightly boring, as most of the men worked out of the area, commuting by foot or on the horse drawn buses and trams, leaving the streets to the housewives and pre-school children. The only major event that interrupted their lives during this time was the loss of John Alfred their eldest son who died within a year of his birth in 1895, children dieing in infancy in the area was not unusual, but this would not have softened their pain.

From the late 1890s Walthamstow, an East London Suburb had started to grow rapidly, its population doubling to nearly 100,000 by the turn of the 1900s. This rapid growth was matched by the local council’s attempts to keep pace with the population growth by a programme of civic investment, which included the setting up of a professional local Fire Brigade to replace the voluntary force that had been in place before, and the volunteers were gradually replaced by professional experienced Firemen, which proved to be the perfect opportunity for John Oliver and family to up sticks from Peckham, and move north of the river to 9 Selbourne Avenue, Walthamstow, with John joining the Professional Fire Service. Settled in Walthamstow with regular employment, the family grows with the additions of Edward Albert, and Violet Maud Oliver in 1902 and 1904. But John Oliver was not getting any younger, and by 1911, in his late 50s he was no longer working as a Fireman, but fortunately the local council looked after him and found him employment as a road sweeper.

Australian Family History


The majority of Australians have family roots in the UK, and it is always interesting to trace them back from hot southern sun to rainy fileds in Britain where their ancestors may have toiled since before the Norman Conquest.   To get an idea of the kind of things that can be discovered, take a look at the excerpts from an Australian Family Tree below.   Although not the complete Family Story, it will give you an idea of what can be achieved.  I hope you enjoy the story.

The Godding Family From England to Australia

The research of the name Godding itself showed that it is derived from an Old English name “Goding” meaning Goda’s child.   The original “Goding” spelling of the name coincides with the early family distribution around the Gloucestershire/Somerset borders.   Given that the name is not associated with a particular profession or craft, and we discovered through research that the family worked the land for many generations at the humblest level of society in future centuries, we can be confident that in the 11th  Century we would have found Goding (Goda’s son) also working the land but as a serf for the lord of the Manor.    

From the Norman Conquest to the 14th century Goding and his descendants would have toiled the land never leaving ploughtheir home Parish except for the occasional Market Day or Saints Day celebration.   Even during the 14th century with the upheavals of the Black Death which wiped out nearly half the population of England, and the subsequent Peasants’ Revolt which almost overthrew the king in London, made little difference to the lives of the Godings.   Perhaps they gained a little more mobility, and slightly better wages due to the shortage of able bodied workers due to the plague, but it is unlikely that they moved more than a few miles from their home Parishes, given that they were still there some centuries later.   One thing is sure, this part of the family actually survived the Plague and lived to pass on their genes to future generations.

Centuries passed, Civil Wars came and went, as did Kings Queens, Catholicism, and a Cromwellian Republic, but still the Godings toiled in the earth for the Lord of their Manor, scraping a living and living long enough to produce the next generation.   Eventually we find them in the 1700s having gained an extra “d” in their name, courtesy of the local Vicar’s whim, given that most of his flock were unable to read and write, he decided on the spelling of their names, and these became set, and so we find William Godding born in 1793 in the Gloucestershire market town of Thornbury.  

This was the age of enclosures, landowners now started to turn their land back to cereal cultivation, which required more man power.   In order to meet the higher demand for grain crops the big landowners would seek permissions from Parliament to carry out “Enclosures”, not just the taking of uncultivated waste land, but also land that was communally farmed by the agricultural population for each person to keep a cow, or for raising of vegetable crops.   The peasant farmers who previously had rights to this land,   lost their opportunity to make a living from farming, so, having robbed them of their livelihood, the Lord would take them on as paid labourers to work the land they previously had rights over.   The Lord would also decide what he would pay them.   If they didn’t like the wages, they could always decide not to work for the Lord, in which case they would loose their cottage, would have to leave the village to look for work elsewhere as they would not be entitled to poor relief from the Parish, or, of course they could choose to starve to death in a ditch.     The landowners had worked out how to control their local populations via wages and rents rather than through the sword and gibbet.   In the words of one MP who railed against the plight of the rural poor;

“The poor in these Parishes may say; Parliament may be tender of property; all I know is I had a cow, and an act of Parliament has taken it from me.”

So this is how William Godding came to be working for wages on local farms dependant on large tenant farmers and the Lord of the Manor, rather than owning a small holding of his own.  Then surprisingly when in his twenties around 1816 William takes the bold step of moving, not just from his home town of Thornbury, but out of the County of Gloucestershire to Keynsham in Somerset where he meets and marries a local girl called Isabella.   Such a move was a major decision for an unskilled Agricultural Labourer, so we needed to see if we could find the cause of it. 

 

Trouble at Thornbury 

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The enclosure acts had caused resentment between the Lords who took the land and the Peasants who lost it.   But the lords had the law on their side and penalties could be harsh for Agricultural Labourers who weren’t prepared to cow tail to the local Lords.

To take back some of their lost assets, and as an act of defiance local people would poach animals for the pot from the Lords’ lands, which was illegal and violently resented by the Gentry.   The penalties were drastic, one member of the Godding family being transported in a prison ship to Australia for offences in 1810.    

At Thornbury in 1815, a man called Thomas Till had been legally killed on the Estate of Lord Ducie by a Spring Gun,   a firearm booby trap left in the woods by game keepers,   Thomas Till had tripped one such wire and been shot and killed by the device when out looking for a rabbit for the pot. This legally sanctioned killing heightened tensions between the common people and the Gentry in Thornbury which would eventually spilled over into an act of defiance.    

On a cold and frosty moonlit night on 18th January 1816 a group of young labourers gathered at a house in Thornbury, with blacked faces to aid camouflage and avoid recognition, they set out on an act of civil disobedience to poach on the lands of Colonel Berkeley at Berkeley Castle.   Undoubtedly this was a political move, rather than a pure poaching for the pot exercise, as the leaders of the participants were from middleclass backgrounds, indeed one of the organisers was a lawyer, and guns had been provided, something no peasant would have owned.

However by the time they reached the Berkeley Estate word had leaked, and ten gamekeepers lay in ambush for them.   The poachers were challenged by the keepers, and realising that they had been betrayed, decided to make a fight of it, at least some among them were ex-soldiers, and they formed up in a double line, advanced on the keepers and   fired a volley killing one keeper, William Ingram, instantly and wounding several others. It then seems that after some confused fighting the poachers made their escape.thornburycropbuff

Over the following weeks Two of the group lost their nerve, gave themselves up and turned King’s Evidence in return for a dropping of charges, the less well off were apprehended over the following weeks, their fates were mixed; two were hanged for the murder of Ingram, nine were transported to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) for life, and probably another eight (who had the money and connections to facilitate it) fled to America, Ireland, and the Caribbean. No doubt there were many other men involved in the fight that night, but not important enough to warrant a prolonged pursuit.  Adding up the facts and timing of William Godding’s move, it does look like he may well have decided to flee as a result the Thornbury Poacher’s Battle.  

It seems that fleeing one county away was enough as William and Isabella set up home in Keynsham and raise a family there.

We followed William and his family through the archives decade upon decade from 1841, we find them in Keynsham with six of their children, five sons and a daughter, William eventually gives   up work on the land when in his fifties to work as a Labourer on the newly arrived Railway, his daughter Elizabeth found work as a domestic servant at the tender age of fourteen with a Railway Contractor, times were hard, the children left home and William continues to work as a labourer into his eighties after the death of his wife.williamcensusbuff

Vines Godding and the move to Australia

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Vines was often misrepresented as “Fines” due to his West Country accent, and the name would stick.   The son of William and Isabella Godding born in Keynsham Somerset. Like his father and brothers he was a Labourer at a time in England when life was very tough for the working man and his family.   He had married Sophia Palmer in 1854, and by 1861 they were living in a working class area of Bristol with three children under of five years and under, so life was   hard for them with five mouths to feed on a labourer’s income.

During the middle years of the nineteenth century in England there was a big drive to “assist” paupers and the working poor to emigrate to Australia, some times this was a wholely voluntary process, and sometimes there was something close to coercion involved.   In the case of Vines, given how adventurous the family was prepared to be in order to find work; it seems likely that a mixture of poverty and daring fuelled their move.  

What we do know is that their move was “assisted” i.e. the costs were   covered by a local emigration scheme.     We found that they left in 1862 aboard the ship the Lady Milton.   With Vines and Sophia were their daughters Elizabeth five and Emily three, plus their one year old son Charles. They must have been fairly desperate, because Sophia was also pregnant when they undertook the trip, and gave birth during the voyage to Louisa.     But times could be hard in Australia as well, and both Bessy and Louisa died in 1868, with Elizabeth following in 1888.   The rest of the children survived to adulthood. Sophia lived till 1896, and Vines till 1901, they both lived out their lives in Australia.

Charles James Godding    

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Times may have been hard, but with Imperial Wars to fight Vines’ eldest son Charles James, joined the Army as a Gunner in the Artillery on 26th January 1881, he was listed as a Baptist, the first confirmation we have of the Godding family’s religious beliefs. By 3rd of March 1885 he was shipped out to the Sudan during the war with the Mahdi, and General Gordan’s siege at Khartoum. The force left Sydney amid much fanfare, generated in part by the holiday declared to allow the public to bid farewell to the troops; the send-off was described as the most festive occasion in the colony’s history.

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The NSW contingent arrived and anchored at Sudan’s Red Sea port Suakin on 29th March 1885, and were attached to a brigade composed of Scots, Grenadier and Coldstream Guards. Shortly after their arrival they marched as part of a large “square” formation – on this occasion made up of 10,000 men – for Tamai, a village some 30 kilometres inland. Although the march was marked only by minor skirmishing, the men saw something of the reality of war as they halted among the dead from a battle which had taken place eleven days before. Further minor skirmishing took place on the next day’s march, but the Australians, now at the rear of the square, sustained only three casualties, none fatal. The infantry reached Tamai, burned whatever huts were standing and returned to Suakin.

After Tamai, the NSW contingent worked on the railway line which was being laid across the desert to the Nile.     Far from the excitement they had imagined, the Australians suffered mostly from the enforced idleness of guard duties. When a camel corps was raised, fifty men volunteered immediately. On 6 May they rode on a reconnaissance to Takdul, 28 kilometres from Suakin, again hoping for an encounter with the Sudanese, but the only action that day involved two newspaper correspondents who had accompanied the patrol before leaving the cameleers to file their stories in Suakin. They soon found themselves surrounded by enemy forces, and one was wounded as they fled. The camel corps made only one more sortie – on 15 May, to bury the bodies of men killed in fighting the previous March.

The artillery saw even less action than the infantry. They were posted to Handoub where, having no enemy close enough to engage, they drilled for a month. On 15 May they rejoined the camp at Suakin. Not having participated in any battles, Australian casualties were few: those who died fell to disease rather than enemy action.   By May 1885 the British government had decided to abandon the campaign and left only a garrison in Suakin. The Australian contingent sailed for home on 17 May 1885 arriving in Sydney on 19 June. They were expecting to land at Port Jackson and were surprised to disembark at the quarantine station on North Head near Manly as a precaution against disease. One man died of typhoid there before the contingent was released.

Five days after their arrival in Sydney the contingent, dressed in their khaki uniforms, marched through the city to a reception at Victoria Barracks where they stood in pouring rain as a number of public figures, including the Governor, the Premier, and Colonel Richardson the commandant of the contingent, gave speeches. It was generally agreed at the time that, no matter how small the military significance of the Australian contribution to the adventure, it marked an important stage in the development of colonial self-confidence and was proof of the enduring link with Britain.

The Grandsons of Vines Godding

 The family having seen action in the Sudan, their then settled down to civilian life until the next generation were called upon to serve the Empire in The Great War.

 

Clarence Sydney Godding 1898 – 1917

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Clarence was working as a Farm hand on a Dairy Farm, before joining the 19th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1916 as a Private, and had been living with his parents.   On his shipping papers his religion is stated as C of E, but his brother was a Baptist, perhaps he didn’t consider it an important detail.  In any case he was shipped out probably initially to Egypt where the Battalion was reorganised and new recruits were trained, before being shipped to France. The first major action for the Battalion was Pozieres, where the German shelling was the most intense ever experienced by the AIF during the war and was accompanied by nearly continuous German counter attacks to recover their vital ground.   In this battle 19th Battalion created a record by holding its sector for a period of 12 days. The most notable action that Clarence would have taken part in was the capture and defence of the notorious ‘Maze’ defence system at Flers on 14th November 1916. Clarence and his mates captured and held a salient deep within the German Lines, but their support battalions failed to reach their objectives on the flanks of the 19th, and so the 18 year old Clarence and his unit were cut off deep inside the German lines.

For two days and nights Clarence held his position against counter attacks and intense shelling, almost running out ofcartoondiggerbuff ammunition Charles and his mates picked up the rifles and ammo of the Germans they had killed and used them, so that their own ammunition could be saved for their Lewis machine guns to stop the German Infantry counter attacks. Of the 451 all ranks who went into the attack, 381 became casualties.

Clarence survived, and his next big battle was at Lagincourt in 1917 where his battalion was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line.   The Germans counter attacked to try to halt their pursuit by the Australians, and Clarence was faced with an attack by a German force that outnumbered them five to one, they made their stand at Lagincourt and managed to defeat the German advance.  

On the 3rd of May 1917 Clarence and his friends were thrown into “The Blood Tub” as the second battle of Bullecourt would be called by the Aussies.   General Gough had sent his troops to assault the fortress village of Bullecourt using the new wonder ‘tank’ and the Anzacs, it ended in disaster.   This was the first battle of Bullecourt, on the 3rd of May Gough launched a second attack on Bullecourt which dominated the British action on the Western Front for two weeks, and was the battle that Clarence fought in.     It was the excessive brutality and ferocity of the hand-to-hand fighting that earned Bullecourt the name ‘The Blood Tub’.

At a quarter to four in the morning of 3rd of May 1917 two Australian and one British Brigade went over the top to attack Bullecourt.   The Australians penetrated the German line but met determined opposition which stop the force surrounding and cutting off the Germans.   It was during this fighting on the first day of the battle in fierce hand to hand combat in the German trenches that Clarence, at the tender age of nineteen was killed.     By the end of the battle the village was held by the Allies; the locality turned out to be of little or no strategic importance, and cost the Australians 7,482 in dead and wounded.

Below you have the Roll of Honour application made out by Charles James Godding, Clarence’s father, to have his son’s name added to the memorial and list.   It is a very sad document filled out by a proud but grieving father, the careful but inexpert nature of the writing in a time of grief, contrasts starkly with the bureaucratic and clinical nature of the form; it highlights the gulf in attitude between a statistic and a young man’s life.  

Sadly Clarence’s body was never found, but he did not return from the battle, and he was not taken prisonner, so it was beyond doubt that   he was   killed in action alongside hundreds of others from his Battalion, and by   July 1918 his status was changed from missing to killed in action.   To the credit of the Australian authorities, they were still investigating right up till October 1919, when they checked to see if he was among Australian prisoners of war released in Germany at the end of the war, but there was no trace of him.   All of this was recorded in the archives that we researched.

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The Poppy marks the spot where his name is engraved on the Australian National War Memorial in Sydney.  

Although it is not known what happened to his body, he is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France.

 

 

Fines Henry Godding 1896 – 1918

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 Fines had worked as a labourer until 26th February 1915, aged 19, Fines joined the Australian Imperial Force as a Private in the Infantry.  He shipped out with the 17th Battalion on the troop ship Themistocles in May 1915. He trained in Egypt from June until mid-August 1915, and on 20 August landed at ANZAC Cove.

At Gallipoli Fines fought in the last action of the August Offensive; the attack on Hill 60, before settling into defensive routine in the trenches. For the rest of his time in Turkey Fines was part of the garrison of Quinn’s Post, one of the most contested positions along the entire ANZAC front.   Eventually he was evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915.

After further training in Egypt, Fines   was sent to France, landing on 22 March 1916.   He took part in his first major battle at Pozières between 25 July and 5 August.   After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, he was sent back into France again in October, where he spent the freezing winter of 1916-17 rotating in and out of trenches in the Somme Valley but was spared from attacking across the quagmire the Somme.   It was during this winter that his battalion earned the nickname “the Whale Oil Guards” after their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Croshaw, ordered the troops to polish their helmets with the whale oil that had been issued to them as a foot rub to prevent Trench Foot.  Trench Foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp and cold, it can occur with only twelve hours of exposure, the first signs are numbness in the feet followed by a change in color to red or blue. As the condition worsens, the feet swell, followed by blisters open sores which lead to fungal infections. If not treated it results in gangrene and requires amputation of the foot. Unfortunately for Fines, Croshaw considered a smart turn out on parade more important than his mens’   health.   They were Lions lead by Donkeys.

In 1917 Fines took part in the pursuit of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and fought in the battle of Lagincourt where a counter stroke by a German force, almost four times as strong, was defeated. Fate then bequeathed that he would fight in the blood bowl at the second battle of Bullecourt (3-4 May), he would have known that Clarence his brother was fighting in the same battle, and no doubt would have had that on his mind during the action.   At the end of the Battle, he heard that his brother was missing, and tried desperately to find out what had happened to him sending letters to the authorities to try to find out as the excerpt   below show.

  “…his name was in the list of missing last evening, and now it has upset me a great deal.   I don’t know how my parents at home will take it when they hear the news, it will be a great blow to them, but still we must of hope for the best.   I am giving you his address and if you hear anything different please communicate with me as soon as possible.”

This letter was written from Perham Down, Andover, which was a Convalescent Depot. These were half way houses for casualties returning to the front – men who no longer required hospitalisation but were not yet fit to rejoin their units.  Fines had also been wounded at Bullecourt, seriously enough to have been shipped back to England for treatment.  At the end of his treatment in July 1917 he wrote another letter to make sure the Department of Wounded and Missing Soldiers would know where to contact him should they get news, as he had been temporarily moved out of the front lines. On the 3rd of September he was still trying to find out the fate of his brother, writing again to the authorities on his return to his battalion.  Not knowing his brother’s fate he was shipped back to Belgium, where he fought at the battles of the Menin Road 20th – 22nd September, and Poelcappelle 9th – 10th October. In October his father wrote to the authorities about his missing son Clarence, but also mentioned   poignant words about Fines, pleading with the authroities to let his shell shocked son come home, we discovered these heart rending letters in the archives:

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The father didn’t get his wish, instead, Fines was shipped out for another winter of trench duty. Fines then took part in   stopping   the German Spring Offensive of 1918. With this last desperate offensive defeated, the Allied armies turned to the offensive.   But Fines found himself   back in hospital in England. This time he had Trench Fever, a disease spread by body lice in the unhygenic environment of the trenches. Fines was treated in the hospial for just over three weeks, then given two weeks furlough before being shipped back to the front line. 

Once back in the lines, Fines received the official   letter from the authorities concerning his brother, his worst fears were realised.  We can only guess at the pain he carried in his heart as he fought in the battles that pushed the German Army ever closer to defeat: Amiens on 8 August, the legendary attack on Mont St Quentin on 31st August. Then came the last major battle fought by his Battalion which started on 29th September 1918. Two Australian Divisions in co-operation with American forces, attacked the formidable German defences along the St Quentin Canal, and on to the Hindenburg Line. 

Unlike his brother Clarence, Fines fate was well documented by his comrades, and we were able to discover in our research   many tetimonials from them describing what they saw:   Private Quantrill went over the top with him at 06.10 on the morning of 30th September 1918 and saw him fall; Sergeant Callaghan saw him lying dead in a trench with machine gun wounds; Private Simmons wrapped his body for burial and noted that he had been hit in the neck and head by machine gun bullets; Private Green carried his body back for burial after Simmons had wrapped it; and   Sergeant Wilkinson oversaw Fines’s burial at Tincourt Cemetary.   The actions of his friends who had cared for him and provided some dignity after death must have given some comfort to his grieving parents. 

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A number of these men were obviously hisfinesmemorialbuff friends, and refer to him as Merry Godding (the strong Australian accent being mishearing “Merry”  as “Mary” by the officer typing one of the letters) because of  his happy disposition.  He was 21 years old carrried the grief of his younger brother’s death, had been wounded and   sufferred Trench Fever from body lice, he   fought in some of the bloodiest battles of WW1, but despite all of this he still managed to lift the spirits of his comrades.   What greater praise could a man be given?  

James Keith Godding 1905 – 1943

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James Keith survived the First World War because he was too young to join up.   In 1920 he married Catherine Zada Thomson at Woolahra, and they had a daughter named after her mother, Catherine Zada Godding. 

But when World War Two broke out he followed the path of his elder brothers and father, and volunteered for the Australian Army, and after a brief initial spell in the infantry James joined the   artillery as his father had done a generation before him.   It also   looks like he either gave a false birth date on when he joined to make himself look younger.jameskeithmemorialbuff

But tradgedy would stalk the Godding boys again, but James did not succome to the enemy, he sadly died whilst a serving soldier od Tuberculosis, and was cremated in Sidney, attended by his parents and his wife.   The poppy in the picture shows the location of his name on the Australian National Memorial.

 

Roy William Godding

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Roy Wiliam   born in Newton NSW Australia, the son of Thomas Sydney Godding, and the grandson of Vines Godding.   The records we found showed that he was 5ft 8ins tall had dark hair a dark complexion, no doubt tanned from his work shearing in the tropics, and had grey eyes.   He had a 34 inch Chest and weighed just over 1“Goding” stone, so he was quite heavy for his height, but wasn’t particularly broad in the chest.

He was a sheep shearer by occupation, and was working in Queensland when he joined the Australian Imperial Force.   He was shipped out as a member of the 15th Battalionon HMAT Wandilla on 31st January 1916 from Brisbane.

He joined the regiment in Egypt where it had been sent after leaving Gallipoli.   the records show that Roy proved to be a bit of a tearaway, finding himself in hospital on two separate occasions   for treatment for the result   of some “leisure activities” in Cairo, and he subsequently turns up in Rollestone, Wiltshire, UK in September 1916, where he goes AWL (Absent Without Leave), and is given 16 days confinement to Camp, and docked   16 days pay.

His battalion had been in France and had fought in the battle of Pozières in August 1916, so it was possible that he was wounded and shipped back to England.

By November 1916 he is shipped back to France, and must have started showing his worth as by April 1917 he is promoted to Lance Corporal. This probably happened at the first Battle of Bullecourt, the prelude to the Battle in which his cousins fought.   Roy’s battalion suffered heavy losses at Bullecourt when the brigade attacked strong German positions without the promised tank support. During July Roy spent another three weeks in hospital, probably through wounds.   Roy   spent much of the remainder of 1917 in Belgium, advancing to the Hindenburg Line, where again he no doubt proved himself being promoted to Corporal and then to Sergeant.   His greatest moment came in September 1917 in the battle of Polygon Wood, in the larger battle of Passchendale.

The attack on Polygon Wood was the 5th Division’s first major battle since it was savaged at the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July 1916 (although parts of the Division had been present at Bullecourt in April 1917). It would attack with the Australian 4th Division on its left and five British Divisions also taking part.

The troops advanced in the early hours of September 26, close behind a creeping artillery barrage. The barrage was, in the words of C. E. W. Bean, Australia’s Official War Historian, “the most perfect that ever protected Australian troops”. Under the protection of this barrage, the Australians advanced in several stages. The concrete pillboxes were manned by German machine gun teams who resisted fiercely and almost all had to be captured by acts of individual bravery. The Australians captured the pillboxes in what later became the classic style: a Lewis gun would fire on the pillbox, supported by fire from rifle grenades, while an assault team would manoeuvre around to the back of the pillbox, rather than attacking it head on. The technique worked effectively in most cases, but attacking pillboxes was never an easy task and casualties were high.

It was during this engagement that Roy won The Military Medal.   The Military Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British and Commonwealth Armies, below Officer rank, for bravery in battle on land.   The medal was established on 25th March 1916. It was the other rank’s equivalent to the Military Cross.

The official records said:

“During the attack near Zokkebake on 26th September 1917 he displayed splendid courage and gallantry in leading his men against a party of the enemy who were holding up the advance.

During the consolidation of the captured position he dispalyed great coolness and skill in rallying his men and beating off a counter attack.

During a very heavy bombardment he inspired great confidence in those around him by his coloness and disregard for danger.” 

He survived the war and returned to Australia in 1918 and was demobilised in 1919.

This is just an extract from what was discovered during the research, which also included the the parts of the family that stayed in England, and contained details of births, Deaths, and Marriages, as well as addresses and occupations.  If you are interested in having your own family tree researched you can find more details here; Time Detectives Services.

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