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Reviewed 1st October 2018

Imperial War Museum War Partnership logoFirst World War - On this day...... 21st November 1915

 

Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War

On the centenary of their death, we remember

Frederick GODFREY (of Lynsted)
b. 22nd July 1888;
d. 21 November 1915. Aged 34


Private, G/5356
8th (Service) Battalion,
The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).
Hedge Row Trench Cemetery, nr Ypres
Special Memorial H 11
Killed in action as a result of motorcycle accident

Entrance to Hedge Roaw Trench Cemetery, ZillebekeHedge Row Trench Cemetery, Zillebeke

Frederick's headstone faces the Cross of Sacrifice.
Cemetery photographs courtesy of Paul and Karen Fawcett.


Frederick Godfrey portraitFrederick was born in Lynsted on 22 July 1881 to Alfred, an agricultural labourer, and Emily (née Butler) of Rayners Barracks (later known as Wanstalls) in Greenstreet. Frederick was the youngest of 10 children; Maria, Thomas, Albert George, John, Edward, Frank, William, Ernest and Sarah. As was the norm at that time, Frederick was given the same name as Alfred and Emily’s first child, who was born in January 1865 and lived only four weeks.

Frederick, a brickfield labourer and member of the Teynham and Lynsted Fire Brigade, married Lucy Maude Ruck in Lynsted Church on 24 October 1903. Frederick had sung in the church choir. At the time of the 1911 Census Frederick was working as a labourer on a fruit farm and was living in Webb’s Cottages, Ham Green, Upchurch. He had three children: Ernest Edward (then aged 7), Catherine May (6) and Percy Frank (3). Frederick and Lucy suffered the tragedy of losing twins (possibly as a result of Lucy falling from a ladder when cherry picking) Frederick and Emily in 1907. Born on 25 June, Emily died the next day and Frederick one day later.

Frederick and Lucy Maude at Webbs CottagesIn January 1915, Frederick enlisted in Sittingbourne and was assigned to the 8th (Service) Battalion The Buffs, East Kent Regiment. Formed at Canterbury as part of the Third New Army, on 12 September 1914, the Battalion moved to Shoreham and joined the 72nd Brigade of the 24th Division and then moved to Worthing. During April 1915 they returned to Shoreham and then moved to Blackdown, Aldershot. On 7 October 1915 Frederick sailed for France and landed at Boulogne.

Frederick’s battalion moved to the Ypres Salient, Belgium. The 2nd, 7th and 8th Battalions were to serve from 1915 to 1917 in defence of Ypres. Frederick survived only three weeks at the front and was the only soldier of his battalion to die on 21 November 1915. The Lynsted Church remembrance names list, compiled by the now defunct Lynsted branch of the Royal British Legion, remarks that Frederick died as a result of a motorcycle accident. However, we have found no evidence of this.

Frederick’s death was listed in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on Christmas Day 1915:

 

EAST KENT WAR ITEMS.

From the casualty lists:- Killed: The Buffs, East Kent Regiment, 8th Battalion - Godfrey F.; Howarth H.; Thomas F.G. Wounded: The Buffs, 8th Battalion - Horne J. Died of Wounds: The Buffs, 6th Battalion, Combey D.P. Previously reported missing, now reported prisoner: The Buffs, Ralph A.


The following extract from the 8th (Service) Battalion War Diary, Volume 3 - intelligence Summary, sets the scene of the conditions that were faced by Frederick and his comrades:

Date Position
20th November 1915 HQ DUGOUTS, 9.30pm: "The relieving units sent their representatives to take over the trenches this morning. We have received orders that we are going into Army Reserve. There was some shelling this afternoon, but ample retaliation was given by the Belgians.

There is no entry for 21st November, the day on which Frederick was killed.

Date Position
22nd November RENINGHELST CAMP G., 10am: Yesterday morning there was very considerable rifle fire between 7.45 and 8.15am. Both ourselves and the Germans were firing rapid fire, but as we had our men up on the fire step and they were unable to see a single German it was concluded that the enemy were firing up in the air, from the bottom of their trenches. They shelled our reserve lines heavily at 11.30am and caused a good deal of damage, especially to the Trench Mortar Battery's dugouts. The relief last night was carried out in good order and without any firing from the enemy.
23rd November EECKE: The battalion paraded at 4.30pm last night and marched to this village via BOESHEPE-GODEWAERSVELDE. The roads were good, but for the last three miles very slippery, owing to a hard frost following a shower of rain.


Frederick is buried at Hedge Row Trench Cemetery, also known as Ravine Wood, Zillebeke, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Special Memorial H.10. The cemetery was begun in March 1915 and used until August 1917. During the war the cemetery came under intense shell-fire causing much damage. After the Armistice the positions of the individual graves could not be identified. The headstones in the cemetery are therefore arranged around the Cross of Sacrifice and marked “known to be buried in this cemetery” along with an epitaph suggested by Rudyard Kipling, “Their glory shall not be blotted out”.

Upchurch MemorialHedge Row Trench Cemetery at Zillibeke where Frederick’s body lays, was begun in March 1915 and used until August 1917. It is sometimes known as Ravine Wood Cemetery. The cemetery came under intense shell fire causing much damage. After the Armistice the positions of the individual graves could not be identified. The headstones in the cemetery are therefore arranged around the Cross of Sacrifice and marked “known to be buried in this cemetery” along with an epitaph suggested by Rudyard Kipling, “Their glory shall not be blotted out”.

Frederick was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, and the British War and Victory medals. [See Appendix 1].

The Following year, Frederick's widow, Lucy, received back pay of £2 2s 10d (£2.15). On 12 September 1919 she received the war gratuity of £3. [See Appendix 2]. Taken together these amount to roughly £340 in today's money.

Lucy returned to Greenstreet and lived in Co-op Cottages (these were situated where the Doctor's surgery and car park next to the Co-op supermarket now stand). Lucy never remarried and died in Bapchild on 18 December 1960 aged 79.

The Lynsted with Kingsdown Society is indebted to Frederick’s nephew, Alan Godfrey, for his help in the preparation of this biography and for allowing the use of family photographs.