Private Thomas Oscar Fitzalan GOODWIN


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
1/6th Battalion
Service Number:
2288
Date of Death:
30 September 1915 - Killed in Action
Age:
25
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 39 and 41

Personal History:
According to his enlistment papers Thomas was born on the 31st December 1889, the son of Oscar (Labourer) and Elizabeth (née Edwards) Goodwin of 13 Riversvale, Burbage, Buxton (1901 Census RG 13/3270) He had an older sister, Constance Beattrice, and a younger brother an sister, Clarence Mortimer (See: Footnote below) and Dorothea Ann.

At the time of the 1911 Census (RG 14/21237) the family were at the same address and Thomas was employed as a "Labourer", whilst his father was working as a "Bath Attendant". In the December quarter 1911 Thomas married Sarah E. Holmes. (See: Footnote below)
At the time of his enlistment Oscar was 5 ft. 4 ins. (1.63 m.) and weighed 9 st. 12 lbs. (62.6 kgs.) and gave his occupation as "Railway Shunter". 'The Buxton Advertiser', when reporting his death, called him "Oscar". Sarah, his widow, received a pension of 10 shillings (50 p) per week, increased on 29th May 1916 to 12/6d (62½ p). At that time she was living at 134 Rivervale, Burbage, but later moved to live with her mother at Church Street, Buxton. 

Military History:
Oscar's Service Papers record that he enlisted into the 6th Battalion Notts and Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters), Territorial Force, in Buxton, on the 1st September 1914, more than likely joining the Buxton half of 'C' Company, although he also states he was serving with the Battalion prior to the outbreak, no doubt in a part-time Territorial capacity. His Medal Card and surviving Service Papers show that he entered France on 28th February 1915 and on the 12th May 1915 his Battalion became part of the 139th Brigade in 46th (North Midland) Division. The Battalion went on in November 1914 to Braintree, forming part of Notts. & Derby Brigade in the North Midland Division.

Oscar's Medal Index Card and Service Papers give the date of his entry into France as the 25th February 1915. Soon after midnight on the 24th he left Braintree, with his Company, by train and sailed from Southampton on the 25th, 'A' and 'B' Companies on HMT Maidan, and Robert's 'C' Company on the King Edward. They landed at Le Havre about 4.00 a.m. on the 26th. The total strength of the Battalion was 28 Officers and 520 other ranks.

The following day the Battalion marched to the Gare Maritime and from there by train to Cassel and on the 28th marched to billets in Terdeghem. On the 4th March, along with other Battalions, they were inspected by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, Commander of the 2nd Army, before travelling by bus to Bailleul, taking over billets at Oostroove Farm, near Ploegsteert, and attached to 11th Brigade.

During the second half of March the Battalion was based at Neuf Becquin, but on 1st April marched, with the 46th Division, to Locre to occupy trenches around Kemmel. On the 5th May the Battalion suffered its first major loss when 1 Officer and 8 other ranks were killed by shellfire.

In July 1915 the Battalion returned to Sanctuary Wood and took over trenches A8-A12 and B1-B2 from the 5/Sherwood Foresters and there they remained until the 27th July. The Germans in this sector were very active and often dug new fire trenches or advanced posts. The front line trenches in this sector were very close, often only several yards apart, and it was important to maintain the upper hand in this sector.

One of Oscar's comrades, Drummer Frank HALLAM, of the 1/6th Battalion, was killed in action during this period, on the 22nd July.

On the 29th August after a short break at Busseboom, Oscar's Battalion took up trenches astride the Ypres - Comines Canal. 'C' Company was to the right of 'D', with 'A' on their right, then 'B' Company, facing "The Bluff", an artificial ridge in the landscape created by spoil from failed attempts to dig a canal.

Evidence from the War Diary gives the circumstances prevailing at the time of Oscar's death. Except that for heavy shelling, the trench tour was uneventful, until the night of 30th September/1st October. The Battalion was to be relieved by units of the 17th Division when, at about 7.15 p.m. the Germans exploded a mine under a trench on "The Bluff" held by 2nd Lieutenant Lewis George DICKINSON and 9 Platoon. Only one man, Corporal Simmonds, was dug out alive. 2/Lt. Dickinson's body was recovered and later buried in Spoilbank Cemetery. He was O.C. of 'C' Company.

The enemy attempted to take the trench but were repulsed by rifle fire and so it was long after midnight before the relief was concluded and the Battalion returned to billets at Busseboom.

Oscar was killed in action in the field 214 days after entering France on 30th September. In total he had served just 1 year 30 days with the Regiment. His Service papers show that initially he was reported as "Missing Believed Killed", later revised to: "Killed in Action in the Field". A total of 16 men of the 1/6th Battalion were killed in action on the 30th September 1915. Many, like Oscar, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. These include Private Samuel Henry YATES, another local man, from Peak Dale, Buxton.

Footnote:
· Oscar's younger brother, A.B. Bristol Z/4737 Clarence Mortimer Bingham GOODWIN, served in the Royal Navy. [photo right]

· Oscar's wife, Sarah Elizabeth, was the sister of Private Ernest Edward HOLMES, who served with the East Yorkshire Regiment
  and was killed in action on 28 June 1918.

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 30 October 1915
· "Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme" - 1/6th (Territorial) Battalion, Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters)
· "Men of the High Peak: A History of the 1/6th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters 1914-18" - Capt. W D Jamieson
   (ISBN-10: 0952964864) Miliquest  Publications (1 Oct 2004)


Link to CWGC Record
The Menin Gate Memorial
Pt Oscar Goodwin
Pt Oscar Goodwin's name on the Memorial
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