The name “GOODMAN T.E.” is not to be found on any of Mitcham’s war memorials. The Goodman family lived in Aberdeen Road, Merton, at the time of the Great War, just a few streets away from Pledgers’ home in Littlers Cottages. Despite the address, the Goodmans were living within the boundary of the Mitcham Urban District Council.
Thomas “Edward” Goodman was born around 1897, the seventh surviving child of James and Elizabeth Goodman. Edward’s father James Goodman had married Elizabeth Annie Martha Finch on 27th October 1887, at St. John, Croydon. They had lived at 3 Keene’s Terrace shortly after their marriage and at 3 Aberdeen Terrace between 1895 and 1902 where Edward was born. With ever growing numbers, the Goodmans moved again in the following year to Phipps Terrace, properties that could only be reached by footpath. They lived at both numbers 11 and 8 Phipps Terrace between 1903 and 1906, where there were three more additions to the family: Thomas Douglas and twins Daisy Isabel and Florence Maude. These places are clearly marked on the 1894 OS map.
James Goodman had been a “printing ink maker” all his working life and his death in 1907, at the age of 48, would have been a bitter blow to the family. Elizabeth would rely on her older children to keep the family together. They had returned to 23 Aberdeen Road by 1910, moving a few doors away to 39 Aberdeen Road in 1913, their address at the time of the Great War. The development of the area over the twenty years leading up to the Great War can be seen in this later 1914 OS map.
The 1911 census shows the family group at 23 Aberdeen Road Mitcham, Surrey, England:
|First name(s)||Last name||Relationship||Marital status||Sex||Occupation||Age||Birth year||Birth place|
|M A E||Goodman||Head||Widow||Female||–||48||1863||Bow London|
Curiously, Edward does not appear, nor is he to be found elsewhere. He was still of school age and along with his younger siblings may well have attended the nearby Singlegate School.
Henry George Goodman was closest in age to Edward, he joined the Navy in 1913 as a boy sailor and signed on for 12 years on his eighteenth birthday, the 12th July 1914, when he was on the crew of the pre-dreadnought battleship, HMS Irresistible. (1)
There was reason to celebrate when Edward’s older brother William Charles Goodman (2) married local girl Eva May Block on 12th April 1914 at St.Peter and St.Paul. William was still employed by one the local varnish makers. Their daughter Eva Elizabeth was born at the end of 1914, and a second child Margaret in 1917. Whatever uncertainty and anxiety the war brought, family life continued and Edwards’ older sister Rose Goodman married farrier Albert Giddings on 7th February 1915 at St.Peter and St.Paul. Their daughter Ethel Rose was born later that year at the Giddings home in Wandsworth.
The massive flow of volunteers answering the repeated calls of Lord Kitchener peaked in September 1914, when the BEF’s retreat from Mons stimulated 462,901 men to volunteer. The pattern of enlistment fluctuated considerably, with peaks and troughs throughout the months of late 1914 and early 1915. November 1914 and January 1915 enlistment figures were above 150,000, but a declining trend became obvious in the Spring of 1915. Recruitment committees redoubled their efforts appealing to men’s patriotism via street marches, newspaper adverts, distribution of leaflets and rousing meetings like those held at the nearby New Wimbledon Theatre. This was the atmosphere in which Edward Goodman volunteered at Wimbledon on 23rd April 1915, it was St. George’s Day !
Edward Goodman passed his medical, where his vital statistics were recorded as:
Height: 5ft 4.5in. Weight in pounds: 118 Eye colour: Grey Complexion: Fair Hair colour Light: Brown Chest expansion inches: 2.5 Chest size inches: 34.5 Distinctive marks: Scar L Jaw
He gave his age as 19 years and 3 months, he had overstated it by a year to ensure overseas service. The young “box maker” from Mitcham, emerged as ES/11235 Pte. T.E. Goodman of the East Surrey Regiment and was posted to the 3rd Battalion based at Dover. The 3rd Bn. was used for training new recruits and acted as a reserve pool of reinforcements. There still many pre-war reservists with the 3rd Bn, and men who had already served at the front returning from illness or wounds were posted to the 3rd Bn. before redeployment. In this mixture of raw recruits and experienced men, Edward would have rubbed shoulders with many from his own locality. Rumours of the fighting at Hill 60 in April 1915, where the East Surreys had lost heavily, must have filtered back to those new recruits. After all, three VCs had been awarded to men of the 1st East Surrey: Lt. G.R.F.Roupell, Lt. B.H.Geary and Pte. Edward Dwyer of “B” coy. Others would receive the MC and DCM. The cost to the battalion had been high. Seven officers and 106 other ranks had been killed, and 8 officers and 158 other ranks wounded. Among the dead was the C.O., Major W.H.Paterson.
Edward Goodman seems to have struggled with Army discipline, with a habit of over staying his passes. The worst offence being absent for 10 days until apprehended by the Civil Police in Croydon on 20th October 1915.
It was just a few days before Edward found himself in a large group of four hundred men compulsorily transferred to the Border Regiment, officially on 9th November 1915. Edward was renumbered as Pte. 22934 of the Border Regiment. Among this group were two other men from Mitcham: Isaiah Lemon who had already served in Flanders with the 7th East Surreys and had recovered from a wound to his hand, and Victor Albert Stokes who had volunteered in June 1915. Nineteen year old Isaiah Lemon had lived at 6 Everetts Place, Phipps Bridge Rd, Merton and worked as a “print cutter” before the war. Victor Stokes was of the same age and had lived at 40 Church Street, close to the Bull Inn.
This large draft of men were destined as reinforcements for the 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment who had been at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, since April 1915. They embarked for the Dardanelles from Devonport on 24th November 1915. It was journey not without hazard as shown earlier on a bad day, 13th August 1915, when the troopship HMT Royal Edward was torpedoed and sunk near the Moudros base on the island of Lemons. An admiralty casualty list, published in The Times in September 1915, named 13 officers and 851 troops as missing believed drowned, a total of 864 lost. Two Mitcham men serving in the 2nd Hampshires were drowned that day: George Schofield and Frederick Spearink.
Two other men named on the Mitcham War Memorial and who had joined the 1st Bn. Border Regiment directly, died of wounds received at Gallipoli: pre-war regular Herbert Gregory Pounds and Walter James young of 5, Bridge Rd., Merton Abbey.
When Edward was bound for the Dardanelles there had been no major offensive action at Gallipoli since late in August 1915, when the 1st Borders took part on the assault on Hill 70 on the 21st and 22nd sustaining heavy casualties amongst officers and other ranks. Conditions at Cape Helles deteriorated rapidly with the onset of winter and dysentery, which had always been a problem, was now rife and large numbers of sick men had to be evacuated from the peninsular. Field Marshal Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, visited Gallipoli on 15th November 1915 and within days recommended the withdraw from the ill-fated campaign. On 28th December the British Cabinet ordered the evacuation of Helles. The 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment withdrew from Cape Helles on 9th January, transferring initially to Mudros and then to Suez via Alexandra by the 17th January 1916.
When Edward Goodman learnt the group would not land at Gallipoli is unknown. The records show that he was one of 343 men and three officers who joined the 1st Borderers at Suez on 20th January 1916. February was a month of training and refitting with officers and men rejoining from the sick list. After orders were received that the battalion was to move to the Western Front, another sea journey started on the 11th March 1916, with the battalion disembarking on the 19th March 1916 at Marseille.
After a brief period of acclimatisation, Edward’s Battalion was on the Somme by the 4th April 1916, moving from billets at Acheux to reserve positions at Engleblemer and into front line trenches opposite Beaumont-Hamel.
This remarkable map overlay from 1916 shows the trench names and positions described in the pages of the War Diary of the 1st Bn. Border Regiment – “C” , “D” and “E” Streets, “ESSEX” street, “ROONEYS” sap, “1st AVENUE” and “BROADWAY” communication trench. All names which can be found in squares 10 and 16.
Click to view the full sized images of 1916 trench map – 57d SE 1&2 (parts of) 1:10,000
Edward’s battalion entered the firing line in the earlier hours of the 4th April 1916. the next 48hrs was spent deepening trenches, improving parapets and clearing communication trenches. The enemy artillery and trench mortars active on the afternoon of the 5th renewed a heavy bombardment of the communications trenches at 20.55 hrs on the 6th along with machine gun fire. A party of the enemy had attempted to bomb ROONEYS sap at around 20.50 hrs. A feared infantry attack on the battalion’s front never materialised. The bombardment lasts over an hour.
Click to view the full sized pages of the War diary
As the battalion sets about repairing the damaged trenches on the 7th, they find the narrow trenches hinders the evacuation of casualties. The human cost is not recorded until the 8th of April. Officers: one missing and one wounded. Other ranks: killed 11, died of wounds 2, suffering shell shock 3, wounded and prisoner 1.
Edward Goodman’s war had come to end, it is was incredibly short, violent and ultimately fatal. He had been in the trenches for only three days. Edward had died of wounds during the bombardment on the 6th of April. He was among the first casualties of the 1st Bn. of the Border Regt. in France and was afforded the dignity of burial that so many would be denied. Along with other casualties, Edward was taken to the existing cemetery in the shadow of the ruined Church the southern edge of the village of Auchonvillers which lay close to one end of “1st. AVENEUE”. The burial party may have even made use the light narrow gauge trench railway.
Edward Goodman had named his mother Elizabeth as both his sole legatee and next of kin. One of the last acts she performed for her son was to take Army Form W5080 to the Mitcham Vicarage on 16th December 1920 for countersigning, in order that the family could receive Edward’s plaque and scroll. It would be another two years before all his medals were issued.
Elizabeth (a.k.a Martha Annie Elizabeth ) Goodman, and other family members, continued to live at 39 Aberdeen Road at least until 1939. Edward’s mother passed away at the remarkable age of 92, and was buried at London Road Cemetery on 18th April 1957.
Footnote 2: William Charles Goodman died during the war and his widow Eva May was re-married on 4th August 1919, five years after the outbreak of war, to Thomas George Sealy at St Peter and St Paul, Mitcham. The Charles William Goodman who passed away in the “Union Infirmary” and was buried at Church Road Cemetery on 11 December 1917, may have been the same person.
Footnote 3: Edward’s younger brother, Thomas Douglas Goodman volunteered for the Tank Corps on 23rd June 1919 at Kingston and served for seven years before being placed on reserve and was finally discharged on 22nd June 1931. He married Florence Marks on 15th June 1929 at Christ Church, Mitcham.