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
b. 13th April 1884;
d. 12th July 1915 aged 31 years old
Company E, 1st/4th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Remembered with Honour
Mhow New Cemetery (in a Military Centre in Madhya Pradesh)
Plot U, Row 5, Grave 4
Also on St. Peter's Church Memorial, Oare
Died of Illness (not specified - possibly typhoid)
Theatre of War: Asiatic
There are very few military records surviving for Thomas Goodwin. His connection with Oare evolves after the census of 1911. We know this from the surviving military records for his younger brother, Joseph John, who places their step-mother (Annie) in "3 Mariners, Oare" (perhaps referring to the public house of that name?). In general, this family was associated mostly with agriculture and brickmaking (our principal local industries). Thomas was the oldest of six children, George, Gertie M, Joseph John (who served and survived, see below), Jessie Rogers, and Charles Rupert.
Thomas Goodwin's immediate family was strongly identified with Faversham (Davington - where he was born - and the Brents). The 1911 Census shows Thomas still living with his father (Thomas Edward) and stepmother (Annie) in the Brents Tavern, 44 Upper Brents, Faversham. His and his sibling's mother, Gertrude, had died on 18th January 1898. In earlier Census data, his father is registered as a brickfield worker. By 1911, Thomas had completed his apprenticeship as a plasterer (not a plumber as reported elsewhere).
So, what was Thomas's path to enrolling with The Buffs as a bandsman, which led to him serving in India where he died?
Thomas Goodwin: The Singer
In a report in the South Eastern Gazette of 16th February 1909, it is not clear which "Thomas Goodwin" (father or son) was musically inclined but music certainly formed part of their family life: "GREENSTREET. SOIREE. The annual soiree of the Associated Hockey, Tennis and Cricket Clubs was held in the Schools on Wednesday evening [10th February], and was a very successful affair. The company numbered 70 and the proceedings, which commenced at 8.30, lasted until one o'clock in the morning. A varied programme was gone through, consisting of all the popular round games which were interspersed with songs by Mr. T. Goodwin (Faversham) and Mr. O. Egan, Mr. Arthur Hills, of Faversham, being at the piano. Dr. Selby, the President, looked in during the evening and made a few remarks.
It might also be speculated from this newspaper extract that Thomas was keen on local sport. This might also explain why a Faversham man was invited to Greenstreet to perform at a soiree. The leader of this local band was a Preston man, Arthur Hills. Again demonstrating that the band was good enough to be sought in surrounding communities.
In the period before WW1, many men learned to play brass instruments through membership of the Salvation Army, but we don't know if this wing of the Goodwin family were Salvationists or not. From the literature of the time, it is clear that the skills of bandsmen was highly valued by military leaders in the maintenance of morale. Military bands often performed in surrounding towns and villages when stationed at home.
Before the First World War, bandmen were habitually employed as stretcher bearers. But following the number of injuries and loss of life amongst stretcher bearers during the first Battle of the Somme, many Battalions withdrew bandsmen from the Front. Instead, they were used to support first aid stations, mortar batteries or other military duties. When other soldiers were drilled, bandsmen would often be further trained in first aid and other medical duties.
Without surviving personal records the detailed fate of Thomas Goodwin is something of a mystery. We do know he enlisted at Margate.
At the outbreak of war, 1/4th Battalion Territorial Force was stationed at Canterbury as part of the Kent Brigade of Home Counties Division then moved to Dover and back to Canterbury. Two months later, on 30th November 1914 these Territorial Forces Embarked for India from Southampton where the Home Counties Division was broken up. This was the destination for Thomas. From his Effects we see that Thomas's father received the minimum £3 War Gratuity that suggests Thomas enrolled less than 12 months before his death. This suggests that Thomas enlisted on or shortly before the outbreak of war.
We know Thomas "Died of Sickness" and his body was buried in Mhow New Cemetery the day after he died. We know that another man in his regiment, Bertie John Williams, died six days earlier from "appendicitis" and was buried alongside Thomas. However, contemporary medical documents (fn1) suggest that there were frequent misdiagnoses of enteric fever (typhoid) as "appendicitis", with catastrophic consequences for those who went under the surgeon's knife for appendectomy. In both conditions the patient experiences pain and rigidity in the abdomen. British India Office Ecclesiastical Returns confirm the cause of death for Thomas as "enteric" fever (typhoid) and that he was buried the next day (13th July).
Thomas was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Territorial Force War Medal (TFWM) for his service in India as part of th 6th Poona Division.
British War Medal
Only members of the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Service were eligible for the Territorial Force War Medal provided they joined the Territorial Force on or before 30th September 1914 followed by service in an operational theatre overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th September 1918. This would not be issued in addition to the 1914 Star or the 1914/15 Star. Roughly 34,000 Territorial Force War Medals were issued. Their Regimental Numbers were preceded by "T" or "TF" as is the case for Thomas Goodwin. It is from the ledger of those issued with this medal that we see the cause of death as "Died of Sickness".
On 24th May 1912, Joseph John Goodwin was attested into the Home Counties Kent Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) Heavy Battery (Service Number 317083), initially for four years. His unit was 2/1 Battery (Sheerness - Eastern Coast Defences). At 19 years, he was a labourer working for Messrs Cremer & Co. (Brick makers), The Brents, Faversham. He may well have gained relevant experience through the heavy artillery volunteers, Oare Battery.
He stood 5 feet and 6 inches tall, chest measurement of 38 inches (expansion of 2 inches). His vision was "good", as was his physical development.
On 5th August 1914, at the outbreak of war, he was "embodied"; he was posted as a "gunner" on 16th November 1915 until 24th January 1916. On 25th January he was posted to the Administrative Centre until he was discharged on 17th March 1917 - "Liable for further service under the provisions of the Military Service Acts 1916". This was at 23 years and 10 months of age. So, his discharge during war was in recognition of his length of service to date. He served his entire time (6 years and 302 days) at Home (Sheerness and Dover - where he was ultimately discharged). He named his mother (Annie - actually his step-mother) as his next of kin living at 3 Mariners, Oare, Faversham.
On discharge, his character was summarised as "fair" and having no special qualifications".
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