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William Arthur Goodrick

Served with Essex County Constabulary from Apr 1, 1912 and died on Dec 12, 1914.

William Arthur Goodrick was born in Little Thurrock in 1886 and served with the Royal West Kent Regiment before joining Essex Constabulary on April 1, 1912, as Police Constable 503. He was a married man. His wife Alice Elizabeth came from Chislet near Canterbury in Kent.

With the outbreak of war in August 1914, he was recalled to the colours as Serjeant L/7769 and together with other reservists he went to Maidstone and thence on to Richmond Barracks in Dublin where he met up with other members of the First Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. The Battalion had already been called to mobilise as part of the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division alongside 2nd Battalion King's Scottish Borders, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment and 2nd Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Mobilisation was complete by August 8 but it was not until 13th that the battalion embarked at the Alexandra Basin in the s.s.'Gloucestershire' of the Bibby Line. Battalion strength was 26 officers and 1015 other ranks. The ship sailed at 2.20am on August 14 and arrived at Havre about 2.30pm the following day. It was pouring with rain as the men disembarked but there were sheds where they could take cover and they raised their spirits with singing.

By August 21, after a train journey and some long marches, the battalion arrived in the Mons area and went into billets overnight. The following morning their march continued till they reached a position north of St Ghislain where they spent the afternoon entrenching close to the Mons Conde Canal.

On Sunday 23rd they came under attack, facing 3,000 Brandenberg Grenadiers as the German Army advanced towards Paris. With expert rifle fire the 1st Bn. The Queen's Own held off the Brandenberg Grenadiers by causing high casualties and forcing a retreat. Elsewhere, however, things had not gone so well. Other positions were overrun and the following day a decision was made for the 5th Division to retreat. Over the next few days, as the German Army continued its advance, the Division moved south through Wasmes, Athis, Le Cateau and St. Quentin. The men were marching under constant fire in very sultry weather with little or no time for food and rest. Supplies were limited and casualties high.

On August 30 the 5th Division crossed the Aisne and the 1st Bn. Queen's Own reached its bivouac at Jaulzy, ten miles east of Compiegne. The weather was still hot and sultry. The next day the march continued with a long and steep ascent out of the Aisne valley to Crepy, where they arrived by nightfall, and the1st Battalion formed part of the outpost line. The Germans attacked at 9.30am, September 1, but did not break through.

The retreat continued over the next few days with 5th Division crossing the river Marne on 3rd September and arriving at Tournan the following day. This proved to be the turning point as the German Army swerved away from the advance on Paris and miscalculated the power for offence of the Allied troops on its own flank. As the British Army with the French 5th Army faced about and began to press forwards, the German Army was forced to retreat and thus started what became known as 'the race for the sea'.

On September 6, 5th Division commenced the advance north that continued throughout September, pushing the Germans back whilst under continuous fire and some close fighting. By the end of the month they were back alongside the river at Conde. In this period of fighting 1st Bn. Queen's Own had lost 15 officers and 390 other ranks, over a third of their original strength.

On October 13, 13th Brigade moved to Bethune and 1st Bn. Queens's Own saw action at La Bassee and Vermelles before moving on to Neuve Chapelle where they saw severe fighting alongside 9th Bhopal Infantry. Once again heavy losses were sustained but they held the line.

The Fifth Division in the Great War, records:

'Exposed to terrific shelling, with their left flank uncovered, the West Kents immortalised themselves by repulsing the German attack and holding their own; they lost most of their officers and were sadly reduced in numbers, but they stuck to their trenches and were finally brought out of action by two subalterns, one with two years' and the other with six months' service.'
On October 30, 1st Queen's Own moved from the trenches and marched north to the Ypres Salient where they were attached for the time to 7th Brigade. They were in front line trenches just thirty yards from the German lines close to Wulverghem. In the evening of November 19 the Battalion was relieved, it was freezing hard and snow was lying on the ground but they could only be provided with accommodation for the night in open holes, with no cover or protection. The next day they moved to billets in Dranoutre where they enjoyed their longest rest since the campaign had started - a whole week - from November 21 to27.

In the evening of November 27 the Battalion went into the trenches in the front of Wulverghem and it was to remain in this sector through the winter up to February 19, 1915. It moved regularly into the trenches for two to four days at a time, returning to rest and smarten up in Bailleul, or the neighbouring villages, for the same periods. Almost every visit to the trenches occasioned casualties with 'trench feet' being a disagreeable feature of this period.

The War Diary of 1st Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) records:

Wulverghem - 12th December 1914.
The weather was fine today. During the afternoon our artillery burst some shells in A Company's trenches. C Company relieved B Company in the firing line. A draft of 236 NCO's and men arrived at the Battalion billets at Dranoutre and in the evening 100 of these were brought to Wulverghem by Captain Mills, who had gone in the morning for the purpose, and acted as a reserve for the Batallion at that place. Casualties 2 men of A Company killed, 1 of D and 3 of A wounded.
Although we can't be certain it is highly probable that William Goodrick, who died on December 12, 1914, was killed as a result of British artillery shells falling short and exploding in trenches held by the 1st Battalion Queen's Own. His body, if ever recovered, was not identified and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

The Menin Gate Memorial, which bears the names of 54,896 of those who died between 1914 and August 15, 1917, and who have no known grave is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin and Cortrai. It is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders covering the Ypres salient. Each night at 8pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local fire brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the arches of the memorial.

The Essex County Chronical of Friday January 15, 1915, reported:

"At Thorpe Petty Session on Monday, Superintendent Day said that the bench would regret to hear that a former member of the Essex Constabulary - PC Goodrick, who when the war broke out was stationed at St Osyth, and was called up to rejoin the Royal West Kent Regiment, had been killed on the 12th ult (ie 12 December 1914). He had proved himself a smart young constable during his two year's service in the Force and was promoted to be sergeant on rejoining the Colours. He went to the front with several other reservists from St Osyth and was the first of that contingent to be killed.
The Chairman (Dr W. H. Slimon) said the bench were very sorry to hear the announcement but they felt that PC Goodrick's death was a noble one."

On March 3, 1915, the Chief Constable reported to the Police Authority the death of Constable Goodrick. On September 1, 1915, the Police Sub-Committee, acknowledging that Goodrick was a married man determined that ' as the War Office Pensions are greater than those which could be paid out of Police Funds no additional pensions can be granted'. On December 6, 1916, the Sub-Committee 'Resolved that the sum of £3.14.3. be paid to dependants of W A Goodrick, killed in action, being the rateable deductions made from pay . whilst a member of the County Police Force.'

In 1920 William's widow Alice Elizabeth was recorded as living at Casleton Cottage, Marshside, Chislet, Canterbury, Kent. She had returned to the village where she was brought up.

Over the top is cold, matey-
You lie on the field alone, Didn't I love you of old, matey,
Dearer than blood of my own.
You were my dearest chum , matey -
Patrick Macgill

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